body shaming olympians, is this really what we do now?

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. 

Translation:  “Exclusive pictures of Alexa Moreno at the end of her gymnastic routine.” (this tweet has been deleted)

Translation: “Exclusive pictures of Alexa Moreno at the end of her gymnastic routine.” (this tweet has been deleted)

Click Alexa's picture for a great profile on her and learn more about this powerful athlete.

Click Alexa's picture for a great profile on her and learn more about this powerful athlete.

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. 

Robel Habte who has been called the "Tubby Ethiopian"

Robel Habte who has been called the "Tubby Ethiopian"

"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.






the comparison game

When I was younger, one of the things I spent most of my time on was tearing myself down. I didn’t need anyone around to do it. I was quite good at it. In fact I carried a black belt in it, even had the WWF championship belt given to those that are able to knock themselves out. At the time, I honestly thought I was the only one in the entire world who felt this way. As a pre-teen I would hide in the back of my closet with magazines, notebooks and journals that I would then fill with words to outline all of the ways in which I didn’t measure up.

I would compare myself to most anybody but more often than not I chose to compare myself to my siblings. I am the oldest of six. The gap is 14 years between the oldest and youngest. Each one of them has veritable cornucopia of amazing and unique things about them. I was always the proud “big” sister that would show up to every play, choir concert, soccer game, taekwondo practice etc. and aside from my Mom, I am pretty sure I was the loudest cheerleader that was there.

My comparison was not one of malice. It was jealousy, of course, but it was the kind of jealousy that made me think I didn’t measure up. They did all of these wonderful things and all I did was, well in my mind I did nothing. I became one of those people that was constantly on a search for “my talent”. From as far back as I can remember, every one of my siblings just had something special about them. They were all talented. 

My brother is an artist who would blow your mind. No joke, he doesn’t just draw, he builds things, and basically is good at everything he attempts. Add to this his quick wit and old people love him. Well lots of people love him but especially old people. I have no idea why.

There is my brother who was a second degree black belt before Jr High. He was a multi-sport athlete in high school and is maybe the most charming person you will ever meet. He is witty and knows how to turn a phrase like no other.

I have a sister who is a championship roller-skater, cheerleader, dancer and fashion savant. She has the most positive natural energy and loyalty of anyone you will ever meet and doesn’t give up on anything ever.

My brother was a basketball phenom. He was the kid people loved to watch play and my Dad loved to coach. He has this natural ability that seemed to appear straight from the womb. He's hungry to learn as much as he can about people & takes chances in his life more than most.

My sister, the comedienne & writer. She'll read this & roll her eyes but she is the smartest person I know and sees the world as whole. She uses humor & words to understand & explore the world. Nobody can make you laugh like her. Don’t even get me started about her Ralph Machio impression.

Did I mention that they also all happen to be really really really good looking? Like Zoolander good looking?

So imagine me, the first one, the oldest, a pasty, scrawny girl with fluffy blonde hair and eczema all over. (umm, yes that is a real pre-teen picture of me on Valentines Day and yes I see the outfit.) I was/am loud, chatty and bossy but I brought no “talent” to the team. I was the bench player who was great at cheering and bringing everyone their sweat towels to feel part of the team but I was never going to get to play. I spent many a conversation crying to my mother and asking her “why am I not good at anything, why don’t I have a talent?”

“But you do. You’re talent is business.” She would say as she stroked my hair to calm me down. It didn’t work.

“That is not a talent” I would inevitably yell. Of course I didn’t storm out because who is gonna leave when their Mom is playing with their hair? I was sad not dumb.

If I could so clearly see everything that they were good at why was it that I couldn’t recognize any talent within myself? Was I being too strict with my definition? Was I not seeing something that was there? 

The truth is, it is all about playing the comparison game. We compare ourselves to everyone else around us and use that to gauge how successful, talented and/or worthwhile we are. Most of the time we don't even know we are doing it. Research says there are a lot of reasons we do this:

  • comparison helps provide us a bar to reach for
  • we are socialized to compete with others not just in sport but in everything (think young school age girls and the hierarchy involved, think politics, think sports, you get the drift.)
  • lack of confidence
  • social media
  • etc. 

We have all heard some version of the saying "don't compare your worst day with someone else's best day" or worse yet with their social media best day. It's not real. We not only compare ourselves to everyone but we compare them on stuff that isn't even real.

We now curate our lives into our own story and the version of fabulous we use is rarely accurate in its retelling.

So let's stop already. Easier said than done right? Well, maybe not. Maybe if we take what learned on Negative Bias and apply it here it could actually help us reduce our need to compare. Think of it this way, if we are focusing on the positive things in our lives we are bound to find our purpose. When we find our purpose we live a happier life. When we live a happier life we don't have a reason to compare because we see, honor and respect the amazing things we have.

So...have I stopped comparing myself to my siblings? Most of the time, yes. I slip every once in awhile, because they really are amazing. But...finding my purpose and passion changed everything. I like what I'm doing, who I am and who I have around me. It's a pretty dope feeling so I have decided to own that and let them own their awesomeness as well.

Oh, and by the way, I did find my talent and while business is great and I am glad to have a head for it. My talent is what I was put on this earth for. Want to know what it is? Read the "DO" section on this website. How do you battle the comparison game? Tell me in the comments below?