Dangerous Games: Eating Disorders | Page 3 | Golden Skate

Dangerous Games: Eating Disorders

Vemvane

On the Ice
Joined
Nov 11, 2019
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.
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.
It is just an idea to do something in this sport that isn't even that extreme honestly.
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.

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.
 

flanker

Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 10, 2018
Country
Czech-Republic
There would be no cut-off to compete, just a slight reduction of base value of jumps.


Well, it is done in another very popular sport, because there's a long history of eating disorders in ski jumping. 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.
Btw, there are ski jumpers who still go below the required BMI and simply use shorter skies, so if there's someone like Nathan (I don't know his weight) who can maintain a low weight and jump several quads, it could still be worth it for them.

It is just an idea to do something in this sport that isn't even that extreme honestly.
Do not twist anybody's words, the less his intentions. Do not fight with a strawman.
 

el henry

Fangirl of men’s spirals and split jumps
Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Country
United-States
The way to treat an eating disorder is to treat the disorder, not the number.

To link back to the article, it says that Skate Canada now has guidelines that only medical professionals can weigh athletes. That is a good start.

None of the bullfeathers about "Well, it's safer to do a jump if you weigh less" from the coach, because the coach can't weigh you. The coach is not a medical professional. Winning medals does not give one medical expertise.

Indepedent medical professionals, working in tandem with the skaters' support system, can determine the skaters' health, and go from there.(y)
 

moonvine

All Hail Queen Gracie
Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 14, 2007
Country
United-States
The ISU could implement a BMI rule - if you're BMI isn't in the healthy range, you get less points for jumps, spins, lifts. That way, maybe some skaters wouldn't be lured to lose healthy weight. But apparently it's better to close the eyes, because in figure skating everyone is naturally super slim. And maybe they think thin skaters are prettier to watch.
A rule like this exists in ski jumping - if you're BMI isn't above 21, you can't use the maximum ski length.
This is the best idea ever.
 

moonvine

All Hail Queen Gracie
Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 14, 2007
Country
United-States
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.

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.

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.
The whole thing is just gross. Gracie has said when she lost enough weight her skating got worse as she was too weak to do the jumps, but that she was still being praised for weight loss and encouraged to lose more. In my opinion this type of behavior should be cause for sanction from Safesport.
 

el henry

Fangirl of men’s spirals and split jumps
Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Country
United-States
The whole thing is just gross. Gracie has said when she lost enough weight her skating got worse as she was too weak to do the jumps, but that she was still being praised for weight loss and encouraged to lose more. In my opinion this type of behavior should be cause for sanction from Safesport.

I don’t know if you can read the article, but Kristen M-T was told be her coach, *her coach*, to stick her fingers down her throat.

I have been convinced by the posters here that BMI is a two edged sword and too simplistic. It could be used for purposes not intended.

But a skater‘s weight should be between them and a medical professional, and a medical professional who is not in cahoots with a coach.
 

moonvine

All Hail Queen Gracie
Record Breaker
Joined
Mar 14, 2007
Country
United-States
I don’t know if you can read the article, but Kristen M-T was told be her coach, *her coach*, to stick her fingers down her throat.

I have been convinced by the posters here that BMI is a two edged sword and too simplistic. It could be used for purposes not intended.

But a skater‘s weight should be between them and a medical professional, and a medical professional who is not in cahoots with a coach.
I did read it. Does Canada have a body like Safesport? Because that person should not be coaching.
 

alexocfp

Record Breaker
Joined
Nov 28, 2020
Country
United-States
I don’t know if you can read the article, but Kristen M-T was told be her coach, *her coach*, to stick her fingers down her throat.
Not good. Not good at all.

These cowboys give good coaches a bad name.

Besides the “advice“ being complete nonsense, you aren’t a good coach if this is part of your “training“ regimen.
 
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