Jump to content

Menu

If you have a girl in a sport/activity with "body issues", come in here!


Recommended Posts

Cheer, ballet, gymnastics, etc.

 

My oldest was a swimmer for years. She quit this summer, she just got burned out. I can't say I blame her- 2 hours a day of laps, laps, laps gets o-l-d. Especially when little sister gets sparkly leotards and cool music for her chosen sport- rhythmic gymnastics. Swimming looks pretty bland (though much more less likely to get you made fun of!:D)

 

So she decided to do RG this year. I signed her up for 6 hours a week, because a 1-hour rec class wouldn't meet her excercise needs. This means she practices with the team (and little sis) part of the time. She knows all the girls (they are all her age or older except little sis, anyway) and they are all great friends. No problems.

 

But.

 

PiedPiper is not exactly RG material. She isn't tall and thin. She is super curvy- at 10, she is far more developed than the juniors on the team at 13. And I am starting to worry about the perceived "perfect" body type affecting her. Another mom mentioned her bum one night a few weeks ago. The coach tells her to "suck her belly in". And a mom asked me why she is "so big!". In their defense, all of the moms referenced as well as the coach are eastern European, and I think they may not *mean* the comments to translate as "she's chubby". But what worries me is what DD herself is thinking. I have no indication she has ever heard/noticed/cared that she is not tall and thin like the other girls. PiedPiper is supremely confident and optimistic, I attribute that to hs'ing. Really, she'll try anything, talk to anyone, very sure of herself. So if she *did* hear/feel that way, I am 99% sure she would discard it as trash, which it *is*.

 

But.

 

I was a ballet dancer, and in the Army, and I have seen some ugly, ugly things done to women's bodies so they can be thin. And I want to know, do I talk to her about it (the percieved perfect body type for her sport vs reality, pressure to be thin, etc) *before* she hears it, or wait? She's only 10, after all, and I don't want to be the one to give her a complex! But I also want her to be aware of these things (eating disorders, media obsession with body types, etc) anyway.

 

What would you do? Talk to her? Wait until there is a problem which hopefully won't ever come! What do you talk to your girls about in regards to weight and body image? No one here diets or counts calories or any such thing, so we have never discussed weight at all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll be waiting for replies, too, because we have 2 dds in ballet. We don't emphasize a perfect body in our home, but I know the girls must hear things during classes and rehearsals.

 

We talk about eating and exercising, and how everybody is different, physically, emotionally, intellectually, etc.

 

At our last pediatrician visit, the nurse asked if she dates (!!) and if she thinks she needs to lose weight. ugh She's on the low end of the weight charts...I just don't understand why the dr's office has to interfere in some areas. :confused:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would find a way to ease into the subject, but don't let her make any connection between RG and your conversation. I have two 10 yo dd's, one that is "chubby" and one that is fairly thin.

 

My skinnier dd is the one that looks in the mirror and says "I'm fat". Umm, the girl hasn't had an ounce of fat on her- ever! I always wondered where she got that idea from, because we talk about eating healthy, and making healthy choices, limiting junk food for health reasons, etc. Dh and I are both heavy, but don't diet, or put ourselves down about it. We don't promote any kind of perfect body image around here either- just being healthy.

 

I guess my point is, they hear and see things we don't know about, and will start worrying about stuff we wouldn't think they would. How's that for clarity?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have an 11 yo gymnast/ballerina and an 8 yo swimmer/ballerina. Both are very muscular, to the point that strangers comment on it. My 8 yo, who isn't and never has been fat, can't fit into some dresses because they won't zip up the back, thanks to her swimmer's shoulders. She asked me recently if it was a good or bad thing to have muscular shoulders, and I told her it was good if the muscles were from swimming and bad if they were fat from sitting around and watching TV all day. That seemed to satisfy her, and she actually seems pleased about her muscular back and shoulders now.

 

We constantly emphasize the beauty in strong, athletic bodies, so our daughters will appreciate their bodies body for what they can do, rather than what they look like. Of course your daughters' coaches have to support that philosophy or keep their mouths shut.

 

As for being told to suck her belly in, I noticed recently that my gymnast arches her back a lot when she's just standing around, and it makes her belly stick out. When she tucks in her behind, the belly goes away. Then we attended a college gymnastics meet, and every one of those girls had the exact same issue--it's something they do out of habit to, I think, stay on the beam. Perhaps emphasizing posture (tucking the bottom in, rather than sucking in the belly) would be a more positive way to get the same result.

 

Terri

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At our last pediatrician visit, the nurse asked if she dates (!!) and if she thinks she needs to lose weight. ugh She's on the low end of the weight charts...I just don't understand why the dr's office has to interfere in some areas. :confused:

 

The nurse is looking for self-image issues, which can lead to disordered eating pretty quickly. If a child on the low end of the weight charts thinks she needs to lose weight, that's a red flag. I agree that pediatricians ask some off-the-wall questions these days, but I think this line of questioning is valid.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm having this conversation this week in a way.

 

DD2 has Turner's Syndrome - she is not built like her sisters except she has the families broad shoulders. She has a thicker torso, and is obviously short. TS girls have a predisposition to easy weight gain - and she has been a victim of her Dad's cookie baking. I have to really really limit her - she has a major sweet tooth.

 

SOOO, we were going thru hand me downs and all her big sis's pants were slims. Let me just say, they ain't going on that behind! LOL!! I've been trying to figure out how to get her to understand she's not FAT (she's not - not even pudgy), she's just built different. She's actually built more like a gymnast minus the muscle mass.

 

HOpefully later when i have time to process the thread you will have gotten some great ideas, but i feel your pain. I need to kick her exercise level up i think but i'm not sure how.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

if we make her do push ups at home? :lol:

 

Um no, why do you ask?

 

Well look at her muscles! Her arms and legs have so much definition.

 

Well, yes, she is very strong. SHe always has been.

 

Well, there must be a reason. Kids are not like that naturally.

 

Well, she is. SO is her older brother. They just are.

 

Hmmmm.

 

You can see my other dd in this other class. She has a much different body type. She is very slight. She eats like a horse and she doesn't gain muscle or fat easily. That is how she's always been. She actually does push ups with her dad so she can be stronger.

 

Oh.

 

People are funny. Especially gym moms. There is so much unspoken competition there. As long as your dd is comfortable with herself and her BMI is normal, I wouldn't worry too much. We are sensitive to this stuff but our daughters can be faily oblivious and aren't aware until we make them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

People are funny. Especially gym moms. There is so much unspoken competition there.

 

 

Girl, you are not joking. Only now that everyone is older, it is certainly spoken competition. Competition between parents for their kids is sick. Until last year, I coached and judged and did not have to ever socialize with the parents. This year I'm just judging, and I try ever so hard to not have to come in the building.

 

 

 

That said, my dd is the "fat one" at gym. She always has been, always will be, it is just her body type - not stick. She is almost the youngest one out of the ten girls in her group, but is the second tallest, taller than the next girl by 5 inches. She knows not to compare herself to girls that are just naturally very, very tiny. She is nearly 5'6" and 115 (with the puberty growth spurt looming). Size zero pants are still too big for her. No one has ever said anything to her, neither coaches or kids because she is not fat, just gigantic:lol::lol: Plus, all she has to do is look around her at the mall and see that she is totally thin to normal, but built.

 

BUT there was recently a girl that came back from another gym who is small (4'11"), yet every kid and parent came out of that first practice saying how fat and out of shape she was. I was floored when another mom told me about how XX had gotten so fat. How can you say that about a 13 year old girl who trains 27 hours a week and is in better shape than you have ever been? Hello... Puberty??? Boobs and hips = fat? Just because your 15 year old has not grown a pubic hair does not mean that it doesnt happen to some kids at a normal time.

 

 

Uh oh, I ranted. Sorry:blushing:

 

 

The point was was that comparing yourself to people in a specialized sport, or anyone on tv, will always exacerbate the differences. A man who is 6 feet tall may feel tiny and inadequate among football players, but the football player feels awkward in a restaurant.

 

I do not think that 4th/5th grade is too young to begin gently pointing out how messed up the whole situation can be for girls, because it can be messed up. You do not have to address her specific situation, especially if you don't really think she is having a problem there. If you don't diet or count calories, yet your children are still average weight, then you are teaching them how to naturally be healthy and maintain themselves by living a healthy lifestyle. There is no need to emphasize diets or calories in your household, which is wonderful.

 

Someone said something about emphasizing what your body can do, not what it looks like it can do. Or something like that. I like that idea. I am going to share that with everyone I know! (if that's ok)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We constantly emphasize the beauty in strong, athletic bodies, so our daughters will appreciate their bodies body for what they can do, rather than what they look like. Of course your daughters' coaches have to support that philosophy or keep their mouths shut. Terri

 

What a beautiful philosophy! I need to work on this w/ dd8 who is very fashion conscious (unlike her mother;))

 

As for being told to suck her belly in, I noticed recently that my gymnast arches her back a lot when she's just standing around, and it makes her belly stick out. When she tucks in her behind, the belly goes away. Then we attended a college gymnastics meet, and every one of those girls had the exact same issue--it's something they do out of habit to, I think, stay on the beam. Perhaps emphasizing posture (tucking the bottom in, rather than sucking in the belly) would be a more positive way to get the same result.

 

Terri

 

Tucking the bottom in ( the better phrase - I agree) and holding in the belly is not just about looks, but about posture and form and core muscles. The body works more efficiently if the back is in proper alignment. The exaggerated rear-out posture may work on the beam to lower the center of gravity, or to widen the base, but it is more of a stylized pose than anything else. Balance is better when the core muscles are engaged (which I learned from ballet.)

 

I wish I had worked on my core muscles more when I was younger - perhaps I would not be dealing with pain from a herniated lumbar disc!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My twin girls are built completely opposite. One is bigger and a little more rounded. She also grew into a woman's size 7 1/2 shoe this year at age 8 3/4. Fortunately for us she has chosen to play ice hockey, and it is a perfect sport for her.

 

That probably doesn't help much, but I do tell all my children that we are all made different for a purpose.

 

Jennie

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the advice! The "suck your belly" is probably balance and posture, thats true. She always says it while DD is in a balance- and those muscles help hold you upright!

 

I guess I'll just wait until/if she hears it.

 

Gymnastics moms are a whole 'nother breed, lOL. We don't get nearly as much of "that" since leaving artistic gymnastics (the beam, bars kind) for rhythmic last year.Its fairly non-competitive, since you could be national champion and no one would care, LOL. But it does have more body-image issues I think, as rhythmic gymnasts are thin, not muscular like artistic gymnasts. DD would still be more developed than the artistic gymnasts, but at least most of them have the same muscular shoulders and thighs. The girls on the RG team are all just super, super skinny with long muscles, not bulky ones.

 

I'm not in a very positive mood about this sport today anyway- I'm pretty sure my youngest has scoliosis. She has a Dr appt next week, but last night I noticed her balance leg (the one she hold up in balances) has a huge hip muscle, 3x the size of the other side. And then I looked at her back, and her shoulders and hips are uneven, which is a bad sign. Maybe she would have it anyway, but the extreme conditioning of predominately one side in RG (throws with the better hand, balances, etc) makes it the only real "risk" in RG. No broken necks or rotator cuff surgery, but lots of scoliosis. I think we may be taking up a new sport soon!I know she loves it so much, but I am not willing to risk injury. No way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This thread is why I have not encouraged dd4 (almost 5) to progress much in gymnastics. She is taking a once a week rec. class and I think that is probably where we will stay.

 

My dd15 did not develop physically until she was forced to quit artistic gymnastics. (Scoliosis surgery) The competition between the moms was ugly, and the financial drain on our family was very difficult. I love this sport, but it does have a downside.

 

My oldest took up ballet after her surgery and now she takes classes 5 days a week and performs in a youth company. We have a lot of discussions about body image, but she is well adjusted, and eats like a horse. (I also think it's hard to hide an eating disorder if you eat all your meals with mom and only have 1 bathroom.)

 

Cami-I think I would discuss body image in a general way. Hopefully she will let you know if she has overheard something that is bothering her. In my experience it was often the other girls that said something hurtfull.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We emphasize fun and fitness, not body shape. Dd8 is in non-competetive dance, but we have suggested to her that as she gets older, she may enjoy volleyball or basketball, and that she is lucky to be so tall!

 

Your younger dd is a little young for scoliosis- I don't know anything about RG, but I would not want my dd favoring one side. Also watch out for heavy backpacks. They may not know what causes scoliosis, but there are probably contributing factors. You don't want to take any chances. Early detection is crucial.

 

And speaking of body image, scoliosis is a HUGE HUGE body image issue!!! (I'm not shouting at you, just emphasis on an important, often overlooked issue)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...