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Thread: Eating disorders among figure skaters and other athletes

  1. #1
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    Eating disorders among figure skaters and other athletes

    Hi!

    Every now and then we hear about top figure skaters or other athletes suffering from various eating disorders. As figure skating is such a visual sport and there is a huge pressure to fit certain look already because of the laws of physics (to some extend) never mind the high stress and social pressure they might encounter. What is there to help young skaters develop healthy body image and self esteem? Is it good that top skaters or other come out with their issues and share it or can it be a trigger for others? Also what can coaches etc. do to encourage healthy eating habits and training but to prevent it from going over the top?

    Also, why still so many coaches and other responsible people encourage the unhealthy habits or look? For what i've understood Frank Carroll encourages dieting, which could have been in Gracie when she moved under him. She lost weight even though she was very fit for the sport already before.

    And how much do skaters push each other? This is common in normal teen life when friends start dieting and follow each other and it becomes a competition. How can a skater survive in that kind of situation?

    And for last, i'm often appalled here in these threads when there's constant talk about" too fat" etc. "body development".. "oh she's gonna lose her jumps when gains weight". Those might be accurate or might not, but to talk about young and fragile (by which i mean their age and development, not their athletism) skaters is such a harsh way is just horrible! We never know who reads these pages, it might not be Gracie Gold but for sure tons of young and little figure skaters who might remember forever certain words and attitudes expressed here or elsewhere. The attitude still remains deep in figure skating, that god forbid if u gain weight. Please, let's not bring it here. Assuming most of us are adults, it's just unnecessary.

    This hits home for me very closely since i myself have suffered from eating disorders over 10 years now. I'm sure there were multiple reason for it to develop, but the most painful moments have been those in early childhood when someone has commented my chubbiness or weight gain and what not. Also, the moment when u lose weight u feel like 1000 dollars and it's a vicious cycle that sucks u in. All this might sound very tempting for a young skater, especially when in the beginning everything might seem easier and jumps do get better and u get attention and compliments. But let me tell u, the honeymoon turns into nightmare sooner or later.

    So, not to sound too depressing, i wish for candid discussion on the subject and ideas how to help our skaters!

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    First, the fact that a girl develops hips and breasts during puberty (and thus gains weight) is inescapable. It is also inescapable that the resultant change in the centre of gravity (which is the real issue) can adversely affect the jumps of a skater if their base technique is not great to begin with and can even cause setbacks when the skater's base technique is solid. You CANNOT escape this fact and trying to bury it in the guise of "OMG but we shouldn't mention it because they might get an eating disorder" is brainless and foolish.

    Even the boys can be thrown off by growth spurts and a lack of muscle in comparison to their height.

    The main proponent of the "too fat" argument here is sky_fly20, who is pretty well a broken record: Tuktamysheva is too fat, Gachinski is hopeless, etc, etc. Nobody with any sense ever listens to her. (Personally, I thought Liza always looked so beautiful and put-together, and that didn't change after her body did.)

    I know what it is to be overweight. (I can only imagine the comments sky_fly would make if I ever posted a picture of myself in a skating dress.) I've been taunted and teased about my weight for years. I flip those people the bird and continue on my steady, slow way to losing weight the healthy way. Never once have I been tempted to "cheat" and starve myself or purge.

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    Yulia forver! I'm on team dumped Ice Dance. Alba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by supsu View Post
    What is there to help young skaters develop healthy body image and self esteem?
    Sometimes is not about sel esteem. Sometimes it has to do with the profession only, like Ballerina or a skater in this case.

    And for last, i'm often appalled here in these threads when there's constant talk about" too fat" etc. "body development".. "oh she's gonna lose her jumps when gains weight". Those might be accurate or might not, but to talk about young and fragile (by which i mean their age and development, not their athletism) skaters is such a harsh way is just horrible! We never know who reads these pages, it might not be Gracie Gold but for sure tons of young and little figure skaters who might remember forever certain words and attitudes expressed here or elsewhere. The attitude still remains deep in figure skating, that god forbid if u gain weight. Please, let's not bring it here. Assuming most of us are adults, it's just unnecessary.
    As long as you do these comments, about weight I mean, without being offensive or agressive, I see nothing wrong with that.
    The body for a skater, sports in general, is an important tool. To pretend that is not such an important thing is like pretending that the body of a ballerina is not important either, and that's a lie.
    Talking about weight problems, or coaches addressing that problem with their skater doesn't automatically mean that a skater will have an eating disorder problem because of it. I think that if a coach can handle that in a proper way like healthy diet, working close with a nutritionist etc., is a good thing.
    I know it's a sensitive issue though and should be treated as such, especially with the young skaters, but the problem is not talking about it or addressing the issue, when there is one. The problem is when coaches, skaters, judges, officials from Fed become obsessed and have wrong view weight.
    I think Tessa as well said something about this, that she heard people (from the skating world) saying she was fat, basically.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alba View Post
    Sometimes is not about sel esteem. Sometimes it has to do with the profession only, like Ballerina or a skater in this case.



    As long as you do these comments, about weight I mean, without being offensive or agressive, I see nothing wrong with that.
    The body for a skater, sports in general, is an important tool. To pretend that is not such an important thing is like pretending that the body of a ballerina is not important either, and that's a lie.
    Talking about weight problems, or coaches addressing that problem with their skater doesn't automatically mean that a skater will have an eating disorder problem because of it. I think that if a coach can handle that in a proper way like healthy diet, working close with a nutritionist etc., is a good thing.
    I know it's a sensitive issue though and should be treated as such, especially with the young skaters, but the problem is not talking about it or addressing the issue, when there is one. The problem is when coaches, skaters, judges, officials from Fed become obsessed and have wrong view weight.
    I think Tessa as well said something about this, that she heard people (from the skating world) saying she was fat, basically.
    I agree with you totally. For example I like when the ballerina has an elegant, thin body with thin and long arms and legs. Her movements seem more beautiful for me. (But I also like Osipova who isn't this type.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by karne View Post
    First, the fact that a girl develops hips and breasts during puberty (and thus gains weight) is inescapable. It is also inescapable that the resultant change in the centre of gravity (which is the real issue) can adversely affect the jumps of a skater if their base technique is not great to begin with and can even cause setbacks when the skater's base technique is solid. You CANNOT escape this fact and trying to bury it in the guise of "OMG but we shouldn't mention it because they might get an eating disorder" is brainless and foolish.

    Even the boys can be thrown off by growth spurts and a lack of muscle in comparison to their height.

    The main proponent of the "too fat" argument here is sky_fly20, who is pretty well a broken record: Tuktamysheva is too fat, Gachinski is hopeless, etc, etc. Nobody with any sense ever listens to her. (Personally, I thought Liza always looked so beautiful and put-together, and that didn't change after her body did.)

    I know what it is to be overweight. (I can only imagine the comments sky_fly would make if I ever posted a picture of myself in a skating dress.) I've been taunted and teased about my weight for years. I flip those people the bird and continue on my steady, slow way to losing weight the healthy way. Never once have I been tempted to "cheat" and starve myself or purge.
    The important thing is to ignore comments by foolish people like that. Those comments usually come from those who themselves suffer from insecurity and/or self-esteem issues so they feel the need to tear down elite level athletes who are in better shape than they will ever be. Now she's going after Pogorilaya.

    Skaters (and people in general) should be encouraged to have healthy bodies. As you said, puberty is inevitable, and it's okay to become a woman. There's no point in compromising one's own health to attempt to reach some ideal body image, whether in sport or otherwise. Skaters like Rochette, Ito, etc. have showed that it's possible to have a strong, healthy body and still be capable of executing the big tricks. If anything, a filled out frame with stronger legs can translate to power and speed more than a lithe, spindly frame could.

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    Research is indicating more every day that "I want to be thin" or "you should be thin" is rarely the cause or the catalyst for eating disorders.

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    As a former skater myself, I went from looking like Yulia L. to looking like Elene Gedevanishvili seemingly overnight. I lost all of my (higher than single) jumps and never quite got back to my peak before I quit when I went to college. The puberty issue is real, and I don't think it should be barred from the discussion. Saying "Yulia is great, but she might get curves and things could change" is different than saying "so-and-so is fat!" Similarly, saying "Michelle Kwan was out of shape in 2005" (which she was, even Frank Carroll said this in the TSL interview) is different than an ad hominem attack about how she looks. If you keep it focused on the sport rather than the way a skater looks, it's legitimate criticism. After all, we would say "Oh, Kobe Bryant/Michael Phelps/Richard Sherman looks like he's out of shape." Why shouldn't we do the same with skaters? It's just as legitimate of a sport.

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    Quote Originally Posted by plushyfan View Post
    I agree with you totally. For example I like when the ballerina has an elegant, thin body with thin and long arms and legs. Her movements seem more beautiful for me. (But I also like Osipova who isn't this type.)
    Oh yes, Osipova. She is not very tall, and not perfectly proportioned but she has astonishing jumps and lightness. She is exuberant and very expressive, is full of energy and athleticism. She is not my perfect Swan, but she is a great Giselle and the ultimate Kitri for me.

  9. #9
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    Eating disorders or disordered eating?

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    maybe this is a sensitive topic but it is a known fact weight is important , even coaches themselves monitor
    coaches in Russia especially they monitor skaters weight, Tutberidze, Mishin, Dmitriev, Pavlova, Averbukh etc. are known to criticize skaters when they begin to look heavy. If weight in a discipline was the most important I would say in Pairs at it involves lifts and throws, as what Tutberidze would say, every gram counts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alba View Post
    Oh yes, Osipova. She is not very tall, and not perfectly proportioned but she has astonishing jumps and lightness. She is exuberant and very expressive, is full of energy and athleticism. She is not my perfect Swan, but she is a great Giselle and the ultimate Kitri for me.


    my favorite Kitri!!! She beats the gravitation!

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    I think the Ruusians have a very strict idea of what is the competition weight of the athletes. And not only the Russian skaters, but the Russian gymnasts and the ballet dancers have to pay attention to their weight. They are always the most thinner .
    I followed Joy Womack, an American girl who studied at the Bolshoi. When she arrived, she was a young girl had a normal weight. I saw her dance exams on youtube she was much more thinner than 3 years ago.

    I read in an interview Tutberidze said Julia actually doesn't eat....

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    Yulia forver! I'm on team dumped Ice Dance. Alba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by plushyfan View Post
    I read in an interview Tutberidze said Julia actually doesn't eat....
    Are you sure she said that? Yulia replied when someone mentioned this. She said that the journalist said some nonsense quoting Eteri.
    She said she eats fine, she keep a diet. She added that she loves chocolates , but she doesn't eat them during the training period and competitions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alba View Post
    Are you sure she said that? Yulia replied when someone mentioned this. She said that the journalist said some nonsense quoting Eteri.
    She said she eats fine, she keep a diet. She added that she loves chocolates , but she doesn't eat them during the training period and competitions.
    Really? Thank God !

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    Spiral Lover tulosai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by plushyfan View Post
    I think the Ruusians have a very strict idea of what is the competition weight of the athletes. And not only the Russian skaters, but the Russian gymnasts and the ballet dancers have to pay attention to their weight. They are always the most thinner .
    I followed Joy Womack, an American girl who studied at the Bolshoi. When she arrived, she was a young girl had a normal weight. I saw her dance exams on youtube she was much more thinner than 3 years ago.

    I read in an interview Tutberidze said Julia actually doesn't eat....
    Yes I believe the Bolshoi still does DAILY weigh ins which is unusual. With that said, you do need a certain body type to be a ballerina, in Russia or in America. to deny it is stupid. I don't find the Bolshoi dancers to be so much (or really at all) thinner than the French and American ballerinas. Joy Womack would have been forced to lose the weight wherever she was studying, or she'd have been cut despite her talent in a few years. That's how ballet works, even still. If you are talented enough they will work with you to get you to the weight you need to be at, but only for so long.

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