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Thoughts on Weight Loss Madness

I saw this article featured on Yahoo’s home page last night, and I just couldn’t ignore it.  Before you click through, know that the article talks about an elite athlete succumbing to tabloid gossip/pressure and losing weight, even though she’s quoted making some body positive comments.  Here’s the story.

Before we talk about this story, I’d like to say that here at Flying Pig Apparel, we support fat people.  Regardless of whether you follow a Health at Every Size philosophy, a size acceptance philosophy, or you’re on a weight loss journey, we believe that you deserve good quality clothing at a reasonable price.  Right now we’re focused on active wear, but eventually we’d like to offer all kinds of clothing… but for now we’ll focus on active clothes and active lifestyles.

So now for the story (and my own personal outrage).  Shawn Johnson is an elite athlete.  She won a gold medal and three silver medals in gymnastics at the Beijing Olympic games.  In early 2010, she was injured in a skiing accident and subsequently gained 25 lbs.  Ok, think about this… you go from being an elite athlete at the top of your game to recovering from a major injury which does not allow you to continue your training schedule.  Is it just me, or is it COMPLETELY NORMAL that she gained some weight during this time?  Or how about it’s COMPLETELY AMAZING that she only gained 25 lbs?

Gymnastics is certainly not a sport centered around acceptance of all body types.  Ms. Johnson is only 4 ft 9 in tall, tiny compared to the average American woman.  And it’s a sport that places a lot of value on how the body looks during performance.  I’m not going to tell you what to think, but I’m sick thinking about the fact that the society we live in put pressure on a 20 year old woman to lose weight after an injury.  What right do we have to shame her for the normal, natural changes in her body when she transitions from an elite training schedule to something a little more normal?

She has since lost the weight and will be returning to international competition this year as an Olympic hopeful.  I for one hope that the next time we see an elite athlete step back from competition and gain a little weight, that we can at least have the decency to keep our collective mouths shut if we can’t manage to be supportive.

~RR

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