Monday, January 25, 2010

Figure Skating and Eating Disorders

There was a period of time (maybe in high school?) when I enjoyed watching figure skating. My mom has always liked watching it, so when I went to go hang out with her the other day, it didn't surprise me to find her curled up on the couch watching it. Anyways, I watched with her for awhile, but truthfully, I cringe when I watch skating because I just hate seeing the girls fall- and it seems like they all fall!! I have such a difficult time enjoying it because it seems like they work for hours and hours and years and years training, they miss their proms, and sacrifice having 'normal' lives, and one fall or misstep can dictate their futures. I know that is slightly dramatic of me to say. However, in a competitive situation like this, a tenth of a point can determine whether or not one will go to the Olympics after having trained for years. I just can't take the pressure!! Haha. Anyways, all that to say- it's been a looong time since I've watched any skating. And what I noticed as I watched was that this time around I was cringing for different reasons. If you have read my blog before, you probably know what is coming... but I was upset by how many of the skaters looked unhealthy. Because I sit with people on a daily basis who are in the middle of some pretty serious battles with eating disorders and body image issues, I see what they go through and know how difficult and distressing it can be. The fact that many competitive skaters likely struggle with eating disorders may not be a newsflash, but it is still very, very sad and concerning.

As in all sports, the body is a major instrument; a few sports in particular though (think gymnastics, running, skating) feature the body as the only instrument. In many of these sports and activities, the rates of eating disorders are soaring. The percentage of skaters with eating disorders is very high. A recent estimate stated that upwards of 85% of competitive figure skaters have eating disorders- that is a LOT. Jenny Kirk, a former competitive (and successful) figure skater, was interviewed recently by the Huffington Post and she did a great two part interview to raise awareness about eating disorders and their prevalence in skating. She shares her personal story, which involved leaving competitive skating due to the severity of her eating disorder. She is now in recovery and attending college, while also raising awareness about eating disorders. The interviews are very informative and interesting. Check them out by clicking below!

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