On the Ice
- Nov 11, 2019
I think it's not offensive to be concerned about people being at an unhealthy weight, but rather the issue that people are taking with the BMI suggestion is that the BMI is not as reliable a guide to a healthy weight as it is often believed to be. Different people will have different healthy weights, and using the BMI is kind of broad strokes.I'm surprised it is that offensive to not want skaters to be underweight. And considering that they carry lots of muscle mass, I think 18.5 is already very generous for adult skaters.
Point taken, though focus on numbers and weight doesn't necessarily help with eating disorders. I had a housemate who was obsessed with my weight, was constantly nagging me to eat more and gain weight, and that is the closest I have come to an eating disorder, because my housemate was pressuring me, with numbers and calorie counting, and turning eating into a battle over my bodily autonomy. The more said housemate tried to make me gain weight, the less I wanted to, and, honestly, it wasn't about health for either of us, but about control.It is just an idea to do something in this sport that isn't even that extreme honestly.
The thing is, eating disorders are serious, found in many sports, and outside sports as well. They're not always about food; food just happens to be one of the easier things to control. Maybe athletes and coaches would be better served with regular seminars or what-have-yous on nutrition and the importance of having those calories as fuel to burn when exercising and competing, rather than numbers on a scale or a chart to target. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe the fact that numbers are simple makes them an attractive and workable solution.
But it isn't just the athletes and the coaches - for women skaters, there's also the perception that judges don't favour female skaters who are clearly physically powerful, since they aren't feminine/graceful/delicate/ethereal enough, so there's a body shape/body image stigma to combat as well, as you mentioned in an earlier post. Which ties into wider social pressure, which rears its head through trends such as thinspo and fitspo, the latter of which started as a response to thinspo, but has run aground on the same shoal in the end, because most fitspo images are still of people who are slender. (And there's the can of worms that is the way some medical professionals approach weight and put Being Thin on a pedestal; have an experience with that myself, ahahaha.)
Of course, even if we embrace a more diverse range of body types/shapes/weights, there remains the fact that if weight makes a difference in a sport, people will do whatever they can to make that perceived ideal weight, to get that hoped-for edge. Which, I guess, is where having something like the mandated BMI cut-off for receiving the full value for technical components might come into play, but ... I admit I still don't like it.
This isn't a very helpful post, I'm afraid! I think eating disorders are really very complex, and likely beyond the scope of a sporting federation or union to fix, but I think you are also correct that an effort needs to be made by the self-same governing bodies to encourage healthy eating habits in their sports. The stories on this thread of people who have struggled with eating disorders make me sad: nobody should ever need to feel that their body isn't good enough.