I've seen plenty of comments of 'X skater having the "perfect" body', 'Y skater should be playing basketball instead or skates too manly' (all because of a muscular build), or 'Don't want to be mean but Z skater looks really heavy.' I've seen them one form or another on forums and YouTube comments. For the record, I am quoting (anonymously) posters who have said this, be they ubers or just non-ubers.
I believe Canada released an article about how the Asian women are successful primarily because of their body frames. Not for nothing, it wasn't very encouraging.
I'd imagine it's different for every skater, which is another thing. Some skating fans need to understand that no two skaters will have exactly the same body frame/type and that their bodies work differently. *gasp* /rantIt's hard to believe that building muscle would hinder a skater's air turns. I'll have to think about that.
Joesitz, Sasha is a good example of someone with muscle that rotates well in the air. Yes, Sasha's body changed dramatically as her career progressed. However, during the Salt Lake City, Sasha was probably the most muscular in her entire skating career. Yet, she had no problem springing into her loop and axels, most notably of her jumps. Her rotation is incredible.
Jenny is right about this and it has been going on for a long time. When I was skating, I was naturally thin and weight was not really a problem for me. I didn't pay much attention to it until one summer at skating camp when a couple of the girls spent a lot of time talking about weight, food, calories etc They were far from heavy, but they said they had put on a few pounds during the winter and were unhappy about it.
One day after a trip to the buffet restaurant in town, I made the mistake of telling one of them that I had eaten too much was not looking forward to my jump lesson. She immediately launched into a graphic lesson in how I should just go throw up my lunch and the sooner the better. She said they had all started doing this and were losing weight. Their parents and coaches were pleased that the weight issue seemed to be under control and they seemed to think they had discovered a brilliant way to have their cake without the calories.
This was in the early seventies and I had never heard of bullemia but that's what it was.
Good for Jenny to come forward with this problem. Maybe it will help others to "wise up."
For some reason my last post was deleted. So I will just say this is such SAD news
This is sadly all true. I am a skater and I am pressured to lose weight. My coach is my main supporter and NEVER tells me I am fat or that I need to lose weight. She is like my therapist and my best friend and if I have problems in life I go to her.The atmosphere around me does pressure me on my weight. All the girls I skate with are stick thin while i am an average sized person my bmi within normal range. But I sometimes think I really want to lose weight. Skating dress companies really lower myself esteem, their sizes are so tiny and an average sized adult is who normally wears an Adult Small or Medium in most clothes is considered a large or an extra by a skating dress company. My body in the skating world is considered "large" which in skating dress designer language means fat. My family members call me overweight or fat a lot and sometimes I want to quit skating because off all the weight pressures. I don't have an eating disorder but I feel like all the pressure the skating world puts on being skinny may want to induce one. I hate it how normal sized people (not fat, not skinny) are considered fat in this sport. By the way many skaters do have large thighs(including me) thanks to super strong leg muscles
Last edited by icedancingnut31; 07-07-2009 at 12:17 PM.
This is not fundamentally a skating issue, is it? It's a broad cultural issue. Just about everyone whom people are going to pay money to watch -- actors, models, dancers, athletes, or pop stars -- is expected to be thin unless their performance area (like football or sumo wrestling) actually demands extra muscularity or beefiness.
Even opera singers (the traditional "fat ladies") are now pressured to be thin - e.g. the recent story of Deborah Voigt who lost a role because she didn't fit into the costume and then had gastric bypass surgery. And even male models, dancers, skaters and actors have to worry about their weight, so it's not just a female issue (even though it's far worse for women -- compare the PR over Jessica Simpson's weight gain over Russell Crowe's).
There must be some psychological factor in this demand for thinness at a time when the population as a whole is increasingly obese. Or maybe it's economic. We can't be bothered to slim down ourselves so we pay our entertainers to do it for us, just like we hire a cleaning lady to take care of our house. Or perhaps we're projecting our desired selves into those gorgeously thin bodies. Or perhaps watching those almost transparent, "angelic" bodies is a way of experiencing transcendence in a post-religious society.
Anyway I don't think this will change in skating unless the entire performing-arts aspect of skating disappears and it becomes pure sport. Since I would oppose the switch to pure sport, my recommendation is a big increase in the education of skaters and coaches about healthy nutrition.
I really don't think censoring skating boards on the topic of weight is an appropriate response, any more than I think skating boards cause eating disorders. I always stand up for courtesy toward skaters, but not at the cost of censoring free speech.
This board isn't censoring "weight talk" yet, is it? I just mention it because the idea always comes up in the context of eating disorders.
I wonder how much of the more recent increase in demand for thinness is due to the fact that so many of our digital TV's need to have the picture stretched horizontally 20% to fill up the screen? I always swap it back to normal with the black edges to watch skating to flatter the skaters, but I don't do it to watch the news, for example, so the people look 20% wider (fatter) than a tube TV picture from back in the day. And that was supposed to add 10 lbs to a person, so the thinness demands are even greater.
I am proud of Jenny Kirk's bravery in coming forward and writing this article. If it makes just one skater not develop an eating disorder, she will have performed a very good deed, and possibly even saved a life. (And yes, severe eating disorders can kill- anyone remeber the Carpenters? the old singing group?)
Sadly, this whole weight issue is not a recent problem at all.
I wasn't alive when Trixi Schuba and Janet Lynn were competing, but I had read and heard a lot of descriptions (both from the past and more recent ones) about how they differed--there was "nymph-like" Janet, enchanting the audiences with her free skating while Trixi was a superb figure skater who had an advantage because of her "heavy" and "large" frame. I remember feeling very shocked when I watched a high-quality video of both skaters for the first time--I expected Trixi to be much more full-figured but she was a slim, healthy-looking woman who looked a meagre five pounds or so heavier than Janet. The standards people have for figure skaters are often so ridiculous.
I find your second statement to be a bit frightening. Remember that you're talking about kids, for the most part. Kids that are still growing and are putting in huge amounts of physical exercise and therefore need huge amounts of fuel for their bodies. I was a stick-thin, very active kid, and can remember quite clearly sitting down to lunch and eating 12 pancakes with as much syrup as I could get away with — and I didn't put on a pound because I was growing and expending energy. Strict dieting is almost never successful under normal adult circumstances, let alone for kids whose peers are eating burgers and fries. Keeping in shape is, of course, important for virtually any sport, and nutrition is an important part of this. But strict diet? Where they're supposed to feel bad/failure if they deviate and have a chocolate bar or a tub of popcorn at the arena? That's incredibly counterproductive, and simply exacerbates the mental components of eating disorders. Think about it — the message is that if they eat normally, they're fat.
There's also the issue that, after a certain length of time, not getting enough calories (energy) causes the body to eat itself for fuel. This leads to muscle wasting, wasting of tissues in joints etc, and even problems with internal organs. And of course the heart, being one big muscle, is at terrible risk. So starving oneself does not contribute to prevention of injuries — quite the opposite in fact.