Dealing With Body Image In Sport

Some of us can struggle to deal with how we look, especially in the eyes of others. It’s hard to deal with because everywhere we look, we are surrounded by picture-perfect people in movies and on social media.

You might think sports stars don’t have to worry about their body image, but they deal with it too. Despite being incredibly fit people, even sports stars are victims of the world’s obsession with beauty, and what that is.

Dealing With Body Image In Sport

Making A Big Splash

Gymnast Katelyn Ohashi, 22, recently made headlines for a perfect 10 routine that has over 40 million views on social media. She was doing something that so few people seem to do during a gymnastics routine, enjoying herself. Despite her skill on the mat, Katelyn Ohashi was told that she “didn’t look like a gymnast.”

In fact, one time she was even told by someone that it looked like she “swallowed an elephant.” Her performance in the perfect 10 routine seemed filled with joy, but that wasn’t exactly the gymnastics world that Ohashi knew.

Heading For Success

In her teens, Ohashi was expected to become one of the greats after beating Simone Biles at the 2013 American Cup. Biles would win four Olympic gold medals, but Ohashi suffered a back injury and left the sport.

When Ohashi returned to the gym after her injury, she began struggling with body image after hers changed. She said she felt uncomfortable walking back into the gym after so long, and she could feel all eyes on her. Ohashi even admitted she didn’t want to go swimming with her mom, who was “super skinny.”

Dealing With Body Image In Sport

Normalizing Size

Ohashi looks back on times when she was younger and realized she and her colleague just normalized being skinny, because that’s how gymnasts were supposedly meant to be. She did gymnastics again while studying for a degree in gender studies at UCLA.

She says the support she received from the psychological services helped her get out on the mat with a smile on her face. Ohashi didn’t want to become an elite gymnast at college because she associated it with the misery of being skinny.

Ohashi learned to accept her body the way it is, and that led to one of the all-time great gymnastics routines. She now thinks the only person people need to be comfortable with is themselves.