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

  1. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    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.
    That was one of the reasons my ballet company gave me when they cut my scholarship because I wasn't losing weight as fast as the other girls.

    I just remember something Johnny Weir said before that he can't practice quads a lot because it's very hard on his bones because he's smaller or something so I can't really get the connection that you can jump better with a smaller body.

    Did that make sense? It's 2 am I should be asleep!

  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by heyang View Post
    Being light definitely has some advantages - no hips/boobs = easier rotation, less weight = ease in lifts/throws for pairs/dancers.

    This is not new. There was a book published decades ago called Little Girls in Pretty Boxes.

    http://www.amazon.com/Little-Girls-P...6843293&sr=8-1

    The publish date on this revised edition is August 2000, but I think I read an earlier edition in the mid to late 1980's.
    I read it in the mid ninties and it was a very insightful book. I appreciated Elaine Zayak much more after reading it.

  3. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bennett View Post
    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.
    The standard for ballet has definitely changed--if I'm not mistaken, the desired look currently in vogue now (slender, 'ethereal' long limbs) was ushered in mainly by the famous Anna Pavlova, who was famous for the look of long-limbed fragility she had on stage, no? Before Pavlova, the standard look for ballerinas was a more small, compact body: think someone like Mathilde Kschessinskaya, whose body type resembled the dancers in Degas' paintings.

  4. #64
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MK's Winter View Post
    I read it in the mid ninties and it was a very insightful book. I appreciated Elaine Zayak much more after reading it.
    What did the book say about Elaine? (I haven't read it.)

  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    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.
    I know that is still a big deal in the Rockettes, though they do allow all nationalities NOW... they just all have to wear nude colored tights so that the high kick is uniformly one color (and since most of the girls are white...)

  6. #66
    Dreaming and dancing Bennett's Avatar
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    Thanks Medusa and Buttercup=)

    I was wondering what may be more difficult if you are not very skinny. I think that jumps would be more difficult if you gain weight. But as for spins, steps, and skating etc, I feel that you'd be fine with a normal body type.

  7. #67
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    e other part of it is that excessive exercise can also damage the body to the point that it will not menstruate.
    Just a quick clarification, menstruation has alot to do with weight after you pass puberty, so it's not an unrelated issue. From the way I read this, it seemed to suggest that they weren't related, and that damaging to the point where you wouldn't menstruate was a further point of abuse (Im not justifying the abuse at all, just to clarify). I'm a runner, and even though I am a guy, a lot of the female runners won't menstruate during fall and/or spring due to running seasons

  8. #68
    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    that reminds me of a Law & Order: SVU episode where they 'took a look' inside the sport of gymnastics and there's a 14 year old girl saying she hadn't exercised enough and that she was too fat. One of the detectives argued that she was perfectly fine and the gymnast bites back "then why did I get my period."... obviously it's not supposed to be based on any true story, but it has a lot of merit... I knew a few local female athletes that were obsessed with that...

  9. #69
    Rink Rat i love to skate's Avatar
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    There is a great article on this topic. It is called "Starving for the Gold" and was written by Laura Robinson in 1992. Laura who was on the Canadian Nordic team in the 1980s. If you are able to find the article I highly recommend it as it is very eye opening.

    Laura talks about her personal experiences with the pressure to be thin and points out that many of the coaches and officials knew what was going on and encouraged this behavior. One example is where the team has a meal together during training camp and one coach creates a contest to see who could leave the most food on their plate. Disturbing stuff.

    Another interesting point she brings up is how the athletes eventually get worn out and fade away and no one notices. As Robinson states about the athletes, "They're interchangeable, there are plenty more where they came from". How sad.
    Last edited by i love to skate; 07-15-2009 at 12:58 AM.

  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by i love to skate View Post
    Another interesting point she brings up is how the athletes eventually get worn out and fade away and no one notices. As Robinson states about the athletes, "They're interchangeable, there are plenty more where they came from". How sad.
    Especially when you put that together with the agism in the sport. Lots of people want to push out the older skaters and comeback skaters so the new ones can "have a chance."

    It's a cruel sport.

  11. #71
    Rink Rat i love to skate's Avatar
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    The article shows that this is not a skating centered issue but rather one across the spectrum of sports. One more interesting point raised in the article is that the coaches wants the girls to resemble boys or little girls in their body shape. A women's shape is deemed unacceptable.

  12. #72
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    Well, I think there are reasons why eating disorders are even more epidemic in skating and dance. Female skaters have to be "like women" and "like boys" to succeed. And then the crowds, the spotlights, the applause, the chiffon and sequins, the makeup, the media -- all focused on those few individuals who make up skating's elite: extraordinary pressure and very high stakes as people fight for ever smaller (and very transient) rewards. It's said that dancers have short professional lives, but they can go on until 40 or 45; we all know how much less time skaters have. Sasha felt like a grandmother in 2006, at the age of 21! http://www.usatoday.com/sports/olymp...-skating_x.htm

    As for dancing, I think the competition every day in class and behind the scenes, not just to dance well but to be thin and beautiful and most pleasing to the choreographer - teacher - rehearsal mistress or master - whew, what a recipe for cracking up any but the toughest young woman.

  13. #73
    Rink Rat i love to skate's Avatar
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    I agree that many skaters are struggling with eating disorders but I think it is wrong to down play the effect this issue is having on other sports. Sports I didn't even think would have eating disorder problems were struggling in the 1980s and 1990s. I guess this was ignorance on my part.

    Robinson states an entire cycling team was anorexic. An ENTIRE team! I question the amateur sporting establishment as this is not a problem that suddenly occurred but has been in effect for decades and it seems that little has been done to counteract this problem.

  14. #74
    Dreaming and dancing Bennett's Avatar
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    http://trueslant.com/jenniferkirk/20...the-aftermath/

    I just read this followup article. Her voice is very powerful. It's moving to read the way she started over her new life after the skating career was over and tried to get over the disease. It would have felt lonely and perhaps miserable to work on the disorder during the Olympic season when her fellow competitors were getting all the media attention. She is a very strong woman to get through this.

    Someone who used to be close to me had this disorder. So I was interested. But I'm shocked that I seem to have known about the disorder so little until I read Jeniffer's narrative of her inner world. It seems that you can keep things pretty much secret and suffer just by yourself.

    I am also surprised by the fact that she was able to compete pretty successfully with an unhealthy body. How come?

  15. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bennett View Post
    I am also surprised by the fact that she was able to compete pretty successfully with an unhealthy body. How come?
    She's far from the only one, though. I'm sure in many other sports (gymnastics for example) this type of behavior is rampant among the elite (and maybe even non-elite).

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