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Thread: Jennifer Kirk: Skating's Not-So-Secret Shame

  1. #46
    Rink Rat i love to skate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by icedancingnut31 View Post
    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
    Why on earth would your family members call you overweight or fat? That is awful. I think you should use skating as a way to escape everything in your life, feel good about yourself, and challenge yourself. When I get on the ice I feel free - I know it sounds horribly corny but it is true. I hope you can find that too.

    By the way, there are Facebook groups to embrace the muscle we skaters get. There is one for skater thighs and my favorite is the "Skater Butt Appreciation" group which I am a proud member of

  2. #47
    Mrs. Roman Kostomarov icedancingnut31's Avatar
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    I loved Jennifer's article, I actually wrote her on facebook and thanked her for writing that and inspiring me. I was close to starving myself and her article taught me that it was not a good idea. The article and her story changed my life. And she wrote me the sweetest letter saying I made her day. She is so sweet.

  3. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by rain View Post
    I

    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 n.
    The sport self selects for body types that are naturally suited for it. Other posters cited Sasha as an example of a "muscular" skater. Sasha is muscular but her body is naturally small and compact. At most, Sasha probably weighed 105 pounds during her competitive career.

    I read quite a few profiles on ballet dancers. All of them said that they had to diet to keep their weight low. Imagine the pressure on the feet and ankles dancing en pointe. One girl ate 1500 calories a day. She couldn't eat any more than that because she would put on weight. I have to add that in my own experience, the so called recommended daily allowance of calories was just too much for me to eat. I was very active at one point in my life and 1800-2000 calories was all that I wanted to eat and was enough to sustain my weight. The ideal weights are low for skaters. Many of the short skaters have healthy body weights- 100-110 pounds.. how many calories do you think it takes to sustain that kind of weight? A small person has a lower metabolism than a tall person and 1200 calories for a small skater is not starvation.

    I've never heard of any coach/ dance instructor restricting a child's eating. Children usually eat as they please and develop normally until they hit puberty. After puberty, it becomes critical for an athlete to watch her weight. It doesn't mean the girl has to starve herself but no, she can't eat all the candy bars that she wants to and still maintain her weight. And really, it is not that different for any other normal person out there. There are a lot of things I have to restrict to maintain my weight and I am not an athlete.

    Following a diet to maintain one's weight is not a means of deprivation. Unfortunately Jenny's story is a common one.. I think many times there are skaters who are not naturally small trying to make their bodies suit the sport and then there are skaters like Jenny who experience injury and do everything to lesson the pain and get back to form.

    Also different skaters have different reactions. No doubt the coaches in the Cape who subjected Jenny to the weighing were Evy and Mary Scotvold. There was a similar story told in Brennan's book regarding Nancy Kerrigan. Nancy had to keep her weight in check and would "protest" to her coach that her body was naturally developing. Their response was that you can keep puberty at bay by keeping your skater's weight in check (my paraphrase- I think he said that you can make any skater into a Twiggy). Smaller bodies are an advantage in skating. Evy and Mary have been coaching long enough to know that.

  4. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by soogar View Post
    I read quite a few profiles on ballet dancers. All of them said that they had to diet to keep their weight low.
    There is also a HUGE problem with massive anorexia in ballet. And it has nothing at all to do with protecting the joints while en pointe. That is a disgusting excuse perpetuated to force more young girls to starve themselves.

    After puberty, it becomes critical for an athlete to watch her weight. It doesn't mean the girl has to starve herself but no, she can't eat all the candy bars that she wants to and still maintain her weight. And really, it is not that different for any other normal person out there. There are a lot of things I have to restrict to maintain my weight and I am not an athlete.
    But you weren't talking about just not being able to gorge on candy bars. You specifically talked about a "strict diet." These are entirely different things. And you are not an athlete, therefore you are not expending as much energy and do not need as many calories as an athlete does to maintain health.

    Following a diet to maintain one's weight is not a means of deprivation.
    It is if it's severely restrictive, as you seemed to suggest in your post (and I apologize if that's not what you were trying to get at), and in so being, is self-defeating eventually. Nobody can deprive themselves continually without a pendulum swing in the other direction. That's exactly why many bulemics binge and purge. I have a friend who lost a huge amount of weight, and has kept it off. She says the key is that she doesn't deprive herself of anything.

    Nancy had to keep her weight in check and would "protest" to her coach that her body was naturally developing. Their response was that you can keep puberty at bay by keeping your skater's weight in check (my paraphrase- I think he said that you can make any skater into a Twiggy). Smaller bodies are an advantage in skating. Evy and Mary have been coaching long enough to know that.
    I seriously hope you are not advocating this kind of treatment. It is highly destructive and can cause irreparable harm if you're trying to hold puberty at bay by starving yourself. This seems to happen quite frequently in gymnastics — the other part of it is that excessive exercise can also damage the body to the point that it will not menstruate. Any coach advocating such a thing should be charged with child abuse, in my opinion.

  5. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by bronxgirl View Post
    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, a skater who suffered from an eating disorder died on July 1st. I wonder if Jenny Kirk's brave article appearing a few days later is more than just a coincidence.

    As the parent of a skater I am appalled at some of the things I see and hear at the rink. I will never forget dropping my beginner skater off at a well known summer program. A high-level pairs skater was due for her weigh-in so made sure to have only a cup of coffee for breakfast. All the parents and skaters in the lobby knew about these routine weigh-ins. Later in the week I noticed the same pairs skater sitting in the cafe eating lunch. She looked miserable eating her small cup of steamed vegetables.

    I have also heard of 11, 12, 13, 14 year olds being told not to eat after 4pm. At competitions I have heard that these same skaters come down for breakfast at the hotel but only indulge in a cup of black coffee. However, they are all accomplished skaters and their excellent placement at competitons seems to reinforce the notion that dieting is good for your skating. I often wonder what the pediatricians of these girls say to the parents when, year after year, the girls do not gain weight.

    It's true that there are advantages to being small in this sport. However, if weight is a concern coaches, parents and skaters should be working with a registered dietician with a specialty in sports nutrition to come up with a healthy and sustainable plan for weight management.

  6. #51
    Custom Title snowflake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by icedancingnut31 View Post
    I loved Jennifer's article, I actually wrote her on facebook and thanked her for writing that and inspiring me. I was close to starving myself and her article taught me that it was not a good idea. The article and her story changed my life. And she wrote me the sweetest letter saying I made her day. She is so sweet.
    I am glad Good luck to you with your skating and your life.

  7. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Momma View Post
    Sadly, a skater who suffered from an eating disorder died on July 1st.
    How awful... prayers out to the friends and family...


    .....

    I don't understand the need for coaches/skaters to do a weigh in? what's the thought process behind it?

  8. #53
    Mrs. Roman Kostomarov icedancingnut31's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonichelle View Post
    I don't understand the need for coaches/skaters to do a weigh in? what's the thought process behind it?
    Basically some coaches want their skaters to be super thin and if they gain a single pound they are out. So the weigh ins are to make sure a skater does not gain weight.

  9. #54
    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    I get that, I just don't understand WHY this is needed. Where the judges get the idea that weight is a major factor at all?

    is it something like judges like the skinnier girl? I just don't understand why the coach stresses about it.

  10. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonichelle View Post
    I get that, I just don't understand WHY this is needed. Where the judges get the idea that weight is a major factor at all?

    is it something like judges like the skinnier girl? I just don't understand why the coach stresses about it.
    +1

    I dunno, maybe it's something that used to be an issue a while back and the problem has lingered on, fostered by some of the older coaches ?

    In any case, I liken it to the modeling industry, where the pressure to be thin is more than a lot of folks can take. Couple that with differing body types (some are naturally thin, others have to workout constantly to get there) and one is just asking for problems.

  11. #56
    Dreaming and dancing Bennett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonichelle View Post
    I get that, I just don't understand WHY this is needed. Where the judges get the idea that weight is a major factor at all?

    is it something like judges like the skinnier girl? I just don't understand why the coach stresses about it.
    One of the things that I could think of is that they teach you to present longer lines by pointing toes and stretching knees etc. If you naturally have long legs and arms, you have an advantage. Even if you are short, skinnier legs and arms look longer.

    I feel that the standard for figure skaters may be less strict than that for ballerinas though. Narrow point shoes and leotards reinforce the dancer to pursue skinnier lines more than bigger figure-skating boots and figure-skating practice outfits with skirts. When I see Edgar Degas's paintings of dancers, I am surprised to see how plump they look compared to the contemporary average ballerinas. I wonder if the standard has changed over centuries or the painter painted his ideal womanly bodies. But I still see lady figure skaters of similar body types.

  12. #57
    L'art pour l'art Medusa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bennett View Post
    When I see Edgar Degas's paintings of dancers, I am surprised to see how plump they look compared to the contemporary average ballerinas. I wonder if the standard has changed over centuries or the painter painted his ideal womanly bodies.
    I think the standard in Ballet definitely changed, just look at photos from 1880 till 1910 - the women were definitely more on the normal side. And to be honest, you can do a lot of the ballet stuff even if you are normal looking or at times even a bit chubby. I have one lady in my ballet group who is slightly overweight with short legs - but really good. Lots of things that you need for ballet, flexibility, extension etc. don't have much to do with your body weight. Ballet evolved over the last 100 years and the level they had around 1880 probably didn't require the super slim ladies.

    Bennett: you are back! Where have you been, I haven't seen you around for ages...

  13. #58
    Sitting Here on Blue Jay Way silver.blades's Avatar
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    In ballet the invention of point shoes and the evolution of pointe work made it difficult for heavier women to do the requirements to be a high level ballet dancer. They've taken it a bit too far, but pointe work is already damaging to the body from the amount of weight balanced on such a small area. The smaller you are, the safer it is for the dancer.

  14. #59
    Off the ice Buttercup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bennett View Post
    When I see Edgar Degas's paintings of dancers, I am surprised to see how plump they look compared to the contemporary average ballerinas. I wonder if the standard has changed over centuries or the painter painted his ideal womanly bodies. But I still see lady figure skaters of similar body types.
    I hadn't noticed that in Degas's paintings, I'll be sure to take another look.

    And like Medusa, I'm so happy you're posting here again! I know you've been very busy, but I really missed your insight on skating matters .

  15. #60
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    In dance, isn't it also considered desirable to have all the ladies in the line look the same, for ensemble work? I know this excuse ws used in U.S. companies at one time to keep black dancers out.
    Last edited by Mathman; 07-13-2009 at 11:47 AM.

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