Media Spot-Lite: Female Olympians and Weight
I remember the last summer Olympics (2008) vividly: I was working at a premiere weight-loss camp and a giant screen was erected in the building where weigh-ins and meetings were held and the sports events were projected all throughout the day.
It was clearly inspiring–as we exercised in the heat for up to 8 hours a day (I wish I were joking), children ages 8-18, often on our way from one activity to another we would pass by and catch a glimpse of the games, of the athletes on top of the world, competing for the gold.
And it truly was something to motivate us, to look forward to, to keep us going towards attaining our own personal goals. I had never really been that interested in the Olympics, honestly, as I was so distant from sports in my own life that it just didn’t translate for a long time, but it was really awesome to be a viewer that summer.
So, here we are again: London 2012! I’ve been watching everything from table tennis to synchronized swimming, from beach volleyball to water polo. And I can’t help it–once it’s on the TV, I just simply can’t turn it off. It’s addicting. But what a wonderful addiction to have, no? Watching people who have prepared their entire lives for a single moment, a single game achieve their goals. Watching countries bring forth the best of the best to compete in a showcase of the world. Watching struggle and triumph, strife and glory.
Thus I was truly dismayed recently to read in various news sources critiques and public shaming of female Olympians (including the entire Brazilian soccer team) and their weight, along with IOC Officials and multiple coaches chiming in. I mean, seriously? Is this an effing joke?
Ugh. UGH! This is not a surprise, unfortunately, as the modern media will pick apart anything that walks on two legs (and even those that don’t) and try to break them down…for what gain? I’m unsure. So, I’m not surprised. But I truly think this is tragic. These are the best athletes in the world. These are women who have overcome tremendous odds and have spent their lives training for and performing in the most challenging events possible. They are strong, powerful, amazingly accomplished and…wait, what is being focused on? Oh, a few heinous news sources unfounded opinions on their weight. Right. News flash, people: these are healthy, strong bodies that are capable of accomplishing things most could never even dream of. How their bathing suit fits, or how an unflattering photo portrays them, or what the media thinks is an acceptable body image DOESN’T MATTER. And we wonder why eating disorders are rife within the Olympics (example: Hollie Avil (pictured below): British triathlete, Avil, who competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, quit sports for good this May to concentrate on her health after struggling with an eating disorder she says stems from years of a coach calling her fat) and here in the real world? Why eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness? Why Americans spend upwards of $40 billion a year on diet and beauty products? The moment we have female figures to look up to, they are torn down. It is enough. Let’s celebrate these women for their achievements, use them to inspire as examples of all that we can be capable of, and be proud of all that they are. Enough is enough.