Friday, August 17, 2012

Olympic Pride

As the Olympic fever has settled,  I've paused to reflect on this year's games.

By all appearances, the London Olympics celebrated the female athlete.  More women competed in these games than any in history.  More American women made the team than men, and they won their fair share of our nation's hefty gold medal count.

And by most appearances, the female athlete in London was prized for her strength, her endurance, her power, and speed.  There were bodies of different shapes and sizes, but it seems we focused more on what these bodies were capable of doing, rather than how they looked.

Except that we had to hear about gold medalist Gabby Douglas's hair (occasionally at the expense of her gold-medal accomplishments and the records she set for American women and women of color).

And Holley Mangold's weight (often at the expense at how much weight she was lifting).

And one news story reported that the Brazilian women's soccer team were called "a bit heavy" by the coach of another team.

Can we continue to move beyond these inconsequential details in our appreciation of female athleticism?

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that her trainer, with whom she had recently begun kickboxing, commanded her a few weeks ago to "Stop throwing punches like a girl!"

After the games, and in light of American, gold-medalist slugger Claressa Shield's victory, my friend wrote:  "He needs to rethink that statement."

He does.  Because women can be strong and fit and powerful and fast and flexible and tough and determined and fierce, and the shape of their bodies is nothing near as important as their prowess in sport.

Congrats Team USA.


Meliss said...

I've read some about female gymnasts and eating disorders. it seems coaches often want them to really restrict to keep their weights down.

what really bothers me is that doesn't it seem that female gymnasts can have stunted growth -- like they're exercising too hard and too young. i've certainly read they often don't get their periods.

it seems bizarre to potentially stunt a young woman's growth for sport.

Meliss said...

thanks for letting me post a question. here it is; I've always been interested in working in the eating disorders field, having coped with anorexia, bulimia, compulsive eating (drugs and alcohol too) and now leading a healthy, full life.

i'm really interested in working with compulsive eaters and obesity and perhaps folks who have had gastric bypass surgery and are now probably flooded with the emotions they can't anesthetize with food.

i'm wondering is this is a viable area and if you have thoughts about the best degrees, growth areas in the field, etc. i'm leaning toward an MSW

thanks so much for any thoughts you have! Melissa

drstaceyny said...

M--congrats on moving forward in the field! I have a couple of thoughts. First, and it's a little bit of a sticking point for me, is that obesity is not an eating disorder. There are people who eat compulsively who are thin and people who are obese who don't have a problematic relationship with food.

Now that that's off my chest. . .
; ) There is a specialty area for doing pre-surgery bariatric evals. From what I know, those evals are supposed to rule out disordered eating, but it does seem like many compulsive/emotional eaters slip through the cracks. The idea is that if someone is using food in a disordered way, having surgery likely won't be a long-term solution unless the eating behavior is addressed. I'm not sure if MSWs can perform the assessments, as I know that they're typically done by psychologists (PhD or PsyD degree). As for counseling around emotional/compulsive eating, that can be performed by a psychologist, social worker, licensed professional counselor, essentially any licensed behavioral health provider who (and this is big) has specialized training and experience in working with disordered eating. So, while you might not do the pre-surgery evaluations, perhaps you could be involved in pre- and post-surgery counseling, if you chose to do an MSW program. Hope this helps, and feel free to email me for more info. . . .