After a training session with my U14 girls, we were sitting in a circle stretching and. one girl piped up “how do I get my legs smaller”, this led to a chain reaction and many questions poured out, like, if I do alot of cardio will my abs show?
As athletes we aim to be stronger, faster, more powerful, but it is easy for visions to become clouded when there is just as much pressure to be pretty, skinny, flawless. It was disheartening to listen to these questions, but I am thankful to be with these girls and have the opportunity to help them navigate through these challenges.
I think one of the best ways we can help empower young athletes, is by educating them and helping them understand. For example, having abs isn’t necessarily healthy. Many people have to be at an extremely low percentage of body fat do have that “6 pack”, but having an extremely low body fat comes with consequences, such as, not having enough caloric intake or nutrients, which also leads to decreased performance. Decreased caloric intake can lead to female athlete triad, where the body doesn’t have what it needs to regulate periods,so girls can lose it completley. Lower estrogen puts girls at risk for osteoporosis which is weakning of the bones.
Here’s to changing the focus.
“We get so worried about being pretty. Let’s be pretty kind. Pretty funny. Pretty smart. Pretty strong”. – Britt Nicole