News Jessica Dubé ready to say that she retired due to bulimia

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el henry

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Separating this out for its own thread:

The struggle and pressure put on "pairs girls" to weigh less:( affected Jessica and she retired due to her struggles with bulimia

essica Dubé suffered from bulimia at the end of her career

(articles in French, very informal translation of parts mine)

She made herself vomit before competitions, because she wanted to be thin and light.
....

For a long time, the Olympic athlete was ashamed to talk about her bulimia. When she was asked why she quit skating, she said that she was injured

....

They told her that it would be easier for her partner to lift her if she was lighter. She was small and not overweight. However, they weighed her regularly.

(there is a lot more to this article and the next. Very troubling
:(
)
 

4everchan

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Joined
Mar 7, 2015
this is so sad.... and explains her early retirement.

this shocked me
«Je me disais que si j’avais encore mes règles, je ne devais pas être si malade que ça. Je me disais que je pouvais pousser encore»,

translation : I told myself that if I still had my periods that I wasn't that sick and that I could push even further....
 

Scott512

Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 27, 2014
Separating this out for its own thread:

The struggle and pressure put on "pairs girls" to weigh less:( affected Jessica and she retired due to her struggles with bulimia

essica Dubé suffered from bulimia at the end of her career

(articles in French, very informal translation of parts mine)

She made herself vomit before competitions, because she wanted to be thin and light.
....

For a long time, the Olympic athlete was ashamed to talk about her bulimia. When she was asked why she quit skating, she said that she was injured

....

They told her that it would be easier for her partner to lift her if she was lighter. She was small and not overweight. However, they weighed her regularly.

(there is a lot more to this article and the next. Very troubling
:(
)



and a second article, also translating only small parts
The demand of the sport especially in pairs and singles to be as light as humanly possible is a risky process and playing Russian roulette with your own life.

I hope Jessica find good health and a lot of happiness in retirement. Figure skating is a wonderful sport in so many ways but it beats up its athletes mentally and physically as much as NFL football does.
 

LutzDance

On the Ice
Joined
May 9, 2019
Cross-posting some articles from the "ED in men" thread because I find them relevant no matter in the context of ladies or men:

1. Jenny Kirk on Figure Skating’s Eating Disorder Epidemic
A two-part interview that remains the most visceral account of eating disorders in skating I've read. I would've copy-pasted the whole thing, but here're some especially poignant quotes from Jenny:
Based on my experience there, and after speaking with skaters after leaving the sport, I would say about 85% of skaters have suffered or are suffering with various forms of disordered eating.
For me personally, I started to control the types of food I was eating—think labeling foods “good” and “bad”—after a disappointing finish at the 2003 National Championships. At the time I believed that if I became very aware of the types of food that were going into my body, how hard I was working out off the ice, and how much I weighed, then I would be able to control my results on the ice. There are so many things in skating that a competitor can’t control, particularly the judging, and I felt that if I were a certain weight, I would feel more in control of all those external variables. What really happened, though, is that the disorder started to control me, and it took over my life.
The pressure to look a certain weight comes from all of the above — other skaters, coaches, judges, the media, parents, etc. It also comes from society. Unfortunately, many skaters have really low self-esteem. After years of having their fate in the hands of judges and being pressured to look and act a certain way in order to achieve the best results, a skater’s self-esteem becomes basically non-existent...And because skating is such an image-driven sport, weight is often a primary topic. At a competition, weight is usually made to be an indicator of who is ready to “fight” and who isn’t prepared for the event. There were dozens of times when my coaches or those around me told me not to worry about a certain competitor because they had gained weight, which according to them meant that the skater wasn’t a threat anymore.
The second quote is an extremely common theme among sufferers of eating disorders: they see food and body as means to control a life filled with uncertainties. It is important to realize that when a skater (or someone around you) suffers from a eating disorder it's not only about body image, but about gaining self-esteem through the only way they see as viable.

2. Figure Skating's Dark History Of Eating Disorders Worries Expert
Mentions the struggles of Gaby Daleman, Yulia Lipnitskaya, Gracie Gold, and Akiko Suzuki with eating disorders.

3. Two other articles in the same series as the Dubé interview (English by Google translate):
Joannie Rochette has faced comments about her weight during her Olympic career
“For some girls, it was a way to intimidate, to get to a super thin competition, where you see all the bones,” she says. I spoke to one of my competitors several years later, when we were doing shows, and that was clearly her motivation. She wanted to compete as thin as possible to intimidate others and then show that she was in good shape. ”
Elite skater Camille Ruest weighed herself three times a day as a teenager
Between 16 and 21, Camille checks her weight three times a day to make sure she doesn't exceed a certain threshold. She enters a compulsive phase, develops negative ideas, her mood depending on what she saw in the mirror, she recalls.

I'm very proud of everyone who had to courage to speak up. The "epidemic of eating disorders" in figure skating strikes me as not a athletic problem but a cultural problem, and I believe it's possible to draw a line between proper body management and obsessive control. Hope to see more normalization of different body types and better scientific understanding of how to harnessing the power of each body type in this sport.
 

Flying Feijoa

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Kirsten Moore Towers had bulimia too. Luckily she seems to have recovered now.
 

el henry

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I think it may be helpful to hear from the skaters who, knowing the dangers, were able to avoid them too, to help others. From Meagan Duhamel's blog in 2018:


I want to be a voice that promotes food for athletes. I want to encourage healthy eating habits and wellness for everyone! It’s a fact that we CAN eat healthy and STILL be in top shape. During my own journey, I’ve tried to help set a good example that others can model and learn from. Education is key to fighting back against these negative stereotypes. As a result, I didn’t suffer from an eating disorder. And certainly, I never avoided water because I was afraid of “water weight”

But Meagan also received the negative reinforcement about her body

I was told that I was too big many times in my skating career. I remember the stress I felt getting my skating dresses made every year. Not because I didn’t want someone measuring my body. I was stressed knowing I had spent thousands of dollars I DIDN’T HAVE on dresses over the years only for coaches, judges and officials to tell me that it made me look too big and I needed a new one. I always tried to understand where people were coming from when they made these comments but it was difficult. All I could do was keep my focus on my training and goals. If I was a little bit bigger, but I could still do my run-throughs, my twist and land all my jumps and throws, I didn’t worry about a number on a scale or an opinion from someone else.

I'm not criticizing those who speak up about their eating disorders, I wish there were some way that someone like Meagan could be of more help.
 

CoyoteChris

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Joined
Dec 4, 2004
So sad. I always liked her....... then there was that horrible day at Four conts 2007 when all the grade school kids behind me in the arena had just left and JD's partner's blade hit her face, barely missing her eye....All the best to her down the road of life...pretty bumpy so far.... :pray:

What really haunts me about all of this is a remark that Brooke Castile made. I was at a FOFS Breakfast in Lake Placid SA 2009 and Brooke Castile / Benjamin Okolski were there. Someone asked Brooke a question and she said, "Well, Ben won't let me eat..." Which at the time I took as a joke but the way she looked up at his face when she said it I can clearly see in my mind today and it was kind of anxious, sad, kind of pleading....:frown:
 

el henry

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Yet another article in the series from Cynthia Phaneuf:

Olympian Cynthia Phaneuf reveals her anxiety and injuries

Much of this article is about how Cynthia dealt with injuries and withstood weight pressures, but she also says she knew about Jessica's bulimia, but did not want to say anything because she didn't want to end her career. "It was sad to see because people were saying that she was more beautiful like that. It astonished me that no one knew. Nobody did anything"

Cynthia did not have an eating disorder, but again encountered the remarks on weight from coaches. I swear to God, if anything should be eliminated from all sports right now worldwide, it would be weigh-ins from coaches:devilish:

Cynthia hated the weigh-ins. She dreaded the times her name was called to get on the scale. "A new coach said pointing to me 'she could lose a good ten pounds'. I said to my coach that would not happen. That it was impossible to lose that weight. And that I would be sick if I tried."
 

GS Forum Staff

Record Breaker
Joined
Jan 11, 2008
Please stay on topic of the series of articles on eating disorders in Le Journal de Montréal and on articles of interest related to this subject.

Please do not go off topic on discussions of criticisms of commentary on other skaters. Posts that are off topic may be deleted.

Thank you for posting on Goldenskate.
 

Seven Sisters

Medalist
Joined
Jul 17, 2018
I’m normally not convinced of the value of self-serving PR statements but really, I do think that Skate Canada (as well as the Quebec section, where these things took place) should immediately issue a statement recognizing that these practices have no place in the sport and will not be tolerated going forward. Preferably closely followed by announcements of what Skate Canada is doing to root them out.

I believe all the athletes who have come forward.
 

withwings

On the Ice
Joined
Jan 5, 2014
Separating this out for its own thread:

The struggle and pressure put on "pairs girls" to weigh less:( affected Jessica and she retired due to her struggles with bulimia

essica Dubé suffered from bulimia at the end of her career

(articles in French, very informal translation of parts mine)

She made herself vomit before competitions, because she wanted to be thin and light.
....

For a long time, the Olympic athlete was ashamed to talk about her bulimia. When she was asked why she quit skating, she said that she was injured

....

They told her that it would be easier for her partner to lift her if she was lighter. She was small and not overweight. However, they weighed her regularly.

(there is a lot more to this article and the next. Very troubling
:(
)
Thank you, el henry, for the translation!
 

SpiffySpiders

On the Ice
Joined
Feb 19, 2014
I have a feeling this goes off topic and will be deleted but I think it needs to be said. Eating Disorders in sport strikes close to home for me and it's a topic I feel needs discussion at all levels, from coach to participant to spectator.

The typical figure skater starts young and begins to hit his or her prime in the early to late teens. Skaters grow up being constantly judged for how they look on ice then take that to the international level when their self-esteem is at peak vulnerability. The figure skating that would result from the level of attitude change required to address the sport's ED epidemic wouldn't look much like the skating we see today.

Everyone needs to do some serious reflection, not only the coaches and athletes. Fans and journalists (including the online self-appointed ones) so often focus on a skater's appearance, especially when watching female skaters - the dresses that show every potential body flaw, how lovely and graceful and slim the girls are, snarky comments about makeup and hair. Imagine being the teen people are commenting on then looking at yourself in the mirror. The other skaters around you are stick thin and control (of appetite, of temptation, over pain) is placed at high value. Adults around you are telling you how you need to be "packaged" in order to win. Then you read and hear how the events you train for are fixed. You look at who wins - they're all slim and pretty/handsome and everyone raves about how wonderful they look and skate. Other skaters, ones who win, pass on misguided 'helpful' tips like not drinking water or fasting to prepare for events. You hear horror stories about skaters losing their jumps or being left by their partner or dumped by their elite coach because of a miniscule weight gain. Coaches tell you that you need to match that traditional look no matter what your natural body type is because the judges, and the fans, only like graceful skaters. The scores at competitions. and comments online, seem to back that up. In most cases, you end up doing what your coach advises and lose weight at any cost. I mean, you want to win, don't you?

People outside skating like to blame what they see as the cause - "It's the crazy jumps!" or "It's the pairs boys being abusive!" or "The coaches demand too much!" - but the truth is the whole culture puts athletes at risk of developing an ED. There are other sports that also have serious ED problems (road cycling, distance running, various types of gymnastics, etc. being among them) and MANY athletes have been weight shamed by coaches. I have, and I did develop an ED that I consider myself recovered from but that I still fall into every so often when I'm feeling "fat". The hard truth is that a lower body mass DOES improve performance and certain body types aren't going to succeed unless they are phenomenally talented (and even then they might not if in a judged sport). If you train in these sports you know this and it's always on your mind. While there are ways to manage weight that don't involve starvation or purging the upper ranks in these sports are filled with people who are pushing themselves to the physical limit, using drugs, experimental therapies, overtraining and, yes, just not eating or drinking to be the lightest they can achieve. It's not healthy, and everyone knows it, but that's the reality. In that environment, it's hard not to fall into the same habits, doubly so if you're a kid who wants to be the best and sees those with influence over you engaging in or encouraging such behaviour.
 

gliese

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Thank you for sharing your story @SpiffySpiders

I wonder what can be done to fix the culture though 🤔
This is what's so difficult to understand. Because as they said, every single person contributes to it. What fans can do is not focus on the body/appearance of skaters, especially young ones. If you want to make comments about things like costumes or makeup, be respectful instead of making inappropriate jokes. Eating disorder prevention goes beyond sports, too. I know many of you guys are parents; please keep the health of your child a priority over their appearance. There's no need to tell your 11 year old that they are developing a dad gut (yes some parents say this). Stop equating what you eat or your weight to your worth as a human being and (this is the key part) presenting this attitude to your children. I know this is hard if you've grown up in a culture where this attitude is common, but it is so, so worth it.

As for things that everyone can do, understanding eating disorders is the big one. I'll give basics here, but there's so much else. Please do more research if possible. While I don't think anyone is obligated to be part of the solution, it would be great if no one was part of the problem and would bring us much closer to "fixing" (for lack of a better word) this culture.

Eating disorders are not just anorexia (restriction of food intake) and bulimia (negation of intake after eating binges). There are others that include Binge Eating Disorder, PICA (eating things that aren't food), and ARFID (malnutrition caused by sensitivity to taste/texture), to name just a few. What makes these disorders is that they extremely impact a sufferers quality of life. It will sometimes keep them from going out with friends or take over all their thoughts (note that these are not requirements to have an eating disorder, just examples). Keep in mind I am oversimplifying the explanations of these because I don't want to write a whole dissertation. Eating Disorders are not about weight and they're not a diet. They're a mental illness and are not a choice. It's not something sufferers can control, and the thoughts rarely leave completely. Usually sufferers spend the rest of their life pushing away thoughts from the disordered side of their brain even though the thoughts can lessen to a point they are easily manageable.

I know we are going somewhat off topic, however, mods, please don't delete this discussion and instead move it if need be. Deleting this will silence a valuable discussion about how to lessen the occurrence of the mental illness with the highest mortality rate.
 

Finley

Record Breaker
Joined
Feb 19, 2014
Thank you, gliese and Spiffy Spiders. For sharing your stories and valuable information. It takes a long time for a culture to change but things are slowly changing. The reason for that is that people like you have the courage to keep speaking up in support of other voices speaking out against this culture of body shame. I don't know what the answer is, but we can keep talking, keep listening, keep educating ourselves, and do our best not to be part of the problem.
 

Skater Boy

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Joined
Feb 24, 2012

Kirsten Moore Towers had bulimia too. Luckily she seems to have recovered now.
i feel for these skaters In the case of KMT there is probably a lot of pressure as her current partner isn't the strongest - though technique is important too it is kind of evidnent he isn't the strongest. The tricks are so hard. Other than KMT jessica, Gabby, Gracie, Yulia and Akiko are all world medalists / top notch skters.
 

gliese

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i feel for these skaters In the case of KMT there is probably a lot of pressure as her current partner isn't the strongest - though technique is important too it is kind of evidnent he isn't the strongest. The tricks are so hard. Other than KMT jessica, Gabby, Gracie, Yulia and Akiko are all world medalists / top notch skters.
It's not clear what point you are getting to. Could you please explain?
 

LutzDance

On the Ice
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May 9, 2019
What makes these disorders is that they extremely impact a sufferers quality of life. It will sometimes keep them from going out with friends or take over all their thoughts (note that these are not requirements to have an eating disorder, just examples). Keep in mind I am oversimplifying the explanations of these because I don't want to write a whole dissertation. Eating Disorders are not about weight and they're not a diet. They're a mental illness and are not a choice. It's not something sufferers can control, and the thoughts rarely leave completely.
Thank you for your post and this part in particular :clap: I put it in the spoiler section to be consistent with the previous post, but hope you don't mind if I discuss it here. Eating disorders can be a very private struggle, as many suffers would go to great length to hide their eating, purging, over-exercising etc. from others' observation, which makes it difficult to notice until the physical toll is no longer negligible. It also adds to the hurdles for the sufferers to open up, as there is an inherent shame in admitting you have been doing things in secret (even though it's not their fault). What's more they often might not realize what they're going through is a disorder instead of something about their ability to exert self-control. It makes me think it might be advisable to include in training programs a wellness module to educate the athletes on how to establish a healthy relationship with your body and what are some signs that you or others might be suffering from ED. It can even be something in the coaching exams. Well, at least I can dream.
 
Last edited:

el henry

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I have a feeling this goes off topic and will be deleted but I think it needs to be said. Eating Disorders in sport strikes close to home for me and it's a topic I feel needs discussion at all levels, from coach to participant to spectator.

The typical figure skater starts young and begins to hit his or her prime in the early to late teens. Skaters grow up being constantly judged for how they look on ice then take that to the international level when their self-esteem is at peak vulnerability. The figure skating that would result from the level of attitude change required to address the sport's ED epidemic wouldn't look much like the skating we see today.

Everyone needs to do some serious reflection, not only the coaches and athletes. Fans and journalists (including the online self-appointed ones) so often focus on a skater's appearance, especially when watching female skaters - the dresses that show every potential body flaw, how lovely and graceful and slim the girls are, snarky comments about makeup and hair. Imagine being the teen people are commenting on then looking at yourself in the mirror. The other skaters around you are stick thin and control (of appetite, of temptation, over pain) is placed at high value. Adults around you are telling you how you need to be "packaged" in order to win. Then you read and hear how the events you train for are fixed. You look at who wins - they're all slim and pretty/handsome and everyone raves about how wonderful they look and skate. Other skaters, ones who win, pass on misguided 'helpful' tips like not drinking water or fasting to prepare for events. You hear horror stories about skaters losing their jumps or being left by their partner or dumped by their elite coach because of a miniscule weight gain. Coaches tell you that you need to match that traditional look no matter what your natural body type is because the judges, and the fans, only like graceful skaters. The scores at competitions. and comments online, seem to back that up. In most cases, you end up doing what your coach advises and lose weight at any cost. I mean, you want to win, don't you?

People outside skating like to blame what they see as the cause - "It's the crazy jumps!" or "It's the pairs boys being abusive!" or "The coaches demand too much!" - but the truth is the whole culture puts athletes at risk of developing an ED. There are other sports that also have serious ED problems (road cycling, distance running, various types of gymnastics, etc. being among them) and MANY athletes have been weight shamed by coaches. I have, and I did develop an ED that I consider myself recovered from but that I still fall into every so often when I'm feeling "fat". The hard truth is that a lower body mass DOES improve performance and certain body types aren't going to succeed unless they are phenomenally talented (and even then they might not if in a judged sport). If you train in these sports you know this and it's always on your mind. While there are ways to manage weight that don't involve starvation or purging the upper ranks in these sports are filled with people who are pushing themselves to the physical limit, using drugs, experimental therapies, overtraining and, yes, just not eating or drinking to be the lightest they can achieve. It's not healthy, and everyone knows it, but that's the reality. In that environment, it's hard not to fall into the same habits, doubly so if you're a kid who wants to be the best and sees those with influence over you engaging in or encouraging such behaviour.

If you have the time to read Le Journal de Montréal series (it is in French, but that's why Google translate exists :) ) please do. All the skaters talk about coaches, spectators, people in the skating world telling them they looked "fat". About the fear and hatred of weigh-ins.

In the "Men's" thread, there is a link to a podcast with Sean Rabbitt, where Sean talks about his family genetics being totally unfavorable to taking up skating, his own build, comments about his weight and comparisons to skaters who did not have his build, and how discouraged he was at times. He manifested in OCDC ( he called it that) in measuring food.

The good news is, Sean is now a coach, and a coach of young skaters. He says that while of course you can't ignore that skaters need to eat healthy, he also treats his skaters to "splurges" when they do well, knowing that it's a splurge and they'll be back to healthy habits.

(Actually, OT, it was fascinating how Sean combined, out of necessity, training for an elite career and coaching. I know many do it, but I enjoyed hearing details from him).

It will take this generation instead of saying, what's wrong with doing this way, that's was what was done to me, :( that what was done to me *was* wrong, and I won't continue it.(y)
 

CoyoteChris

Record Breaker
Joined
Dec 4, 2004
Yet another article in the series from Cynthia Phaneuf:

Olympian Cynthia Phaneuf reveals her anxiety and injuries

Much of this article is about how Cynthia dealt with injuries and withstood weight pressures, but she also says she knew about Jessica's bulimia, but did not want to say anything because she didn't want to end her career. "It was sad to see because people were saying that she was more beautiful like that. It astonished me that no one knew. Nobody did anything"

Cynthia did not have an eating disorder, but again encountered the remarks on weight from coaches. I swear to God, if anything should be eliminated from all sports right now worldwide, it would be weigh-ins from coaches:devilish:

Cynthia hated the weigh-ins. She dreaded the times her name was called to get on the scale. "A new coach said pointing to me 'she could lose a good ten pounds'. I said to my coach that would not happen. That it was impossible to lose that weight. And that I would be sick if I tried."
Thank you for posting....sad and haunting.....here are a couple of pics I took of CP at 2007 Four conts. Lots of wonderful (to me) skaters there that year. But the ice can be a sad and lonely place to be at times.....
FC2 152.jpg

FC2 159.jpg
 
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