Unless you are currently living under a rock you know that the Olympics are under way. While we should be reveling in the athletic accomplishments of amateur and professional athletes the world over, the attention instead has been the most ridiculous stuff.
body shaming & gender
I grew up in love with the Olympics. It has always been one of my favorite things ever. It represents so many wonderful things. Countries who may not agree on politics, religion or general world views come together in peace to compete. Each time the Olympics roll around we get to see and hear the most inspiring stories of grit, determination and the ability to overcome obstacles. It is empowering, inspiring and intensely riveting.
Sadly, this year, social media bullies are taking all of that away.
Instead of celebrating the achievement of these athletes and the hard work that got them to the pinnacle of sport gets shoved aside and instead we mock them and belittle what got them there in the first place.
are you kidding me?
Here are a few examples of the body shaming that has occurred in just this first week of competition.
Let's talk about Alexa Moreno. She is a 22 year old gymnast ranked 31st out of 54,866 gymnastic individual all around. She is ranked 12th in the world in her signature event, the vault. She has won medals in the Pan American Championships, Pacific Rim Games and more. She even finished 7th in vault at the 2014 World Championships. She competes for Mexico, a country not typically associated with gymnastics. Oh and by the way she is 4'11" and 99 pounds. I would never have told you this except for the fact that we are now body shaming people under 100 pounds. The whole concept of shaming an athlete near the top of their game is ridiculous in and of itself but shaming one under 100 pounds and implying that they are a "pig"? I am at a loss.
Here's the thing. We have all seen someone in person or even someone on television and thought to ourselves "did they gain weight" or "man they lost a ton of weight" or even "they look kind of strange to me". Anyone who says they haven't done that before is lying. Plain and simple.
That being said, with the democratization of social media, the things we once said in the privacy of our living room are being shared on a global forum.
is it really that big of a deal?
Yes, it is. Social media creates the opportunity to turn a random observation into a weapon. People don't stop at asking a simple question, they beat the concept to death and suddenly something seemingly innocent turns into body shaming and worse still bullying. It also changes our perception of reality.
"and in a shocking turn of events, this body shaming has now gone cross gender.
It almost looked like this body shaming had crossed genders and it kind of did but the shaming was different. Robel Habte has been called the "Tubby Ethiopian Swimmer" or Robel "the whale". While Robel faced quite a bit of his own body shaming online after coming in dead last in his swimming heat in Rio there were also people who cheered him on as having a "dad bod" and being relateable.
Yes, both experienced body shaming. Yes, they were not the only ones. Yes this is ridiculous.
These people made it to the OLYMPICS. There are only so many medals to go around, some people don't win. Some people don't look like our idea of a typical athlete, that doesn't mean they aren't.
Bill Bowerman used to say "If you have a body, you are an athlete". This sentiment is what makes sports such a big deal. Because we can all do it. Okay, so we can't all do it well. Trust me, while I dream of standing on a podium, I basically trip trying to tie my shoes on the way to a race.
Because we have tried though, we can put ourselves in these athletes shoes and we appreciate the effort and work it takes for someone to do it at such a level. So why then do we insist on tearing these people down who have reached the pinnacle.
Who cares what they look like, they are pushing the limits of what the human body can do and for that we should be cheering them on and celebrating the bodies that got them where they are just as they are.