“This makes me look fat!” When you read this, who do you picture saying that? A 30 year old? A 20 year old? Maybe a teenager? Try a 9 year old! A skater at our rink was trying on dresses during a test session this past Friday and she put on a gorgeous white lace long sleeved dress scattered with rhinestones and a soft chiffon skirt. Her mom and I both agreed it was a must have dress. She looked absolutely stunning like a little barbie doll in it. The 9 year girl then said 3 words that left me stunned. “I look fat.” Her mother was extremely upset and began to tell me how her daughter has gotten it in her head that she is fat and now refuses to eat. 9 YEARS OLD!
Figure skaters struggling with eating disorders is a whole other subject, but figure skaters no matter how old, need to understand body perception. Your perception of how you look effects how you feel and your actions. Someone who is comfortable in their own skin usually has better presentation. They stand up straighter, chin is up, and are wearing a smile on their face. Someone with low self confidence on the other hand will be more likely to be hunched over, looking down, and showing no emotion. Figure skaters need to be proud of who they are and show it off to the world. We spend hours upon hour training and too often how we perceive ourselves or our fear of how others perceive us inhibits us from performing to our fullest potential. You are being judged on how you perform, not on what you weigh. If you feel good about yourself you will skate with better performance. So pull your shoulders back, stand tall, and own the ice because you are beautiful!
Sometimes we may not even realize that when we speak to others we bring attention to others body images. I have heard and probably said myself, the really skinny skater or the heavier set skater when describing someone. To someone who is struggling with their body image or self confidence they will immediately begin to wonder who they are more like. For parents, coaches, and skaters it is important to be conscious when speaking to others to try to avoid comparing body images. You never know who is struggling with how they feel, and they don’t need any more reminders for fuel to keep burning their fire.
It is very easy, too easy, to become self conscious of your body type in this sport. Unlike team sports, every skater wears a different outfit. Unlike team jerseys, these outfits are form fitting and show off any bump, lump, or roll. It is only you on the ice being the center of attention in a tight dress. We as skaters need to take pride in our image. We get to put on fancy dresses and get all dolled up. We should be strutting around showing it off instead of looking for a sweater to cover up. Team sports compare themselves to other teams as a whole where figure skaters compare each other as individuals. Often times skaters compare their bodies to their competitors. Skaters need to remember to focus on the skating not the image. Everyone has a different body type and is built differently. You could try the craziest diets in the world but it won’t make your legs longer, it won’t make you grow a few inches, and it won’t change your body type. You are you and not someone else for a reason. Own your body and love who you are.
A skaters body is our tool for success, not an object to be posed in a magazine. If you want to pose be a model instead of a figure skater. Skaters have muscles for a reason, and having muscles does not mean you are fat. Those muscles allow you to perform. Perform with presentation and be proud of how you look. Beauty doesn’t have a weight limit.