U.S. figure skater Amber Glenn is calling out unnecessary comments about athletes’ bodies.
A spectator at Skate America reportedly made comments about fellow skater Kaitlin Hawayek, telling the 25-year-old she needed to lose weight. Glenn took to Twitter in response.
“Pretty sure it was the same spectator that made some comments to me about my body while asking for a photo,” she wrote. “It threw me off because I believe it was meant as ‘compliments’ instead it was toxic, triggering, and made me super uncomfortable.”
Glenn, who earned a bronze medal in the singles competition at Skate America, added that she struggled with accepting her body and weight “for YEARS.”
Pretty sure it was the same spectator that made some comments to me about my body while asking for a photo. It threw me off because I believe it was meant as “ compliments” instead it was toxic , triggering , and made me super uncomfortable.— Amber Glenn (@AmberGlenn_) October 25, 2022
Pretty sure it was the same spectator that made some comments to me about my body while asking for a photo. It threw me off because I believe it was meant as “ compliments” instead it was toxic , triggering , and made me super uncomfortable.
“I still struggle with it sometimes,” the 22-year-old said. “For example, this years [free skate] dress is my first sleeveless dress as a senior. I avoided having sleeveless dresses in fear of my arms looking ‘too big or too manly.’ The fact that as an athlete at just 13 I was worried about how others would perceive my body is a huge problem.”
She also tied such internal and external scrutiny of athletes’ bodies to another problem in the figure skating community.
“Point is stuff like this contributes to why eating disorders are so common in this sport,” she said in a separate reply.
The issue of eating disorders in sport has long been discussed, including in figure skating. At the Beijing Olympics earlier this year, as the skating world focused on Kamila Valieva’s doping case, some skaters also pointed to eating disorders and body image issues as systemic issues in the sport.
American skater Gracie Gold has been open abuse struggling with anxiety and an eating disorder. U.S. skater Alysa Liu, who placed in the top 10 at the Olympics, has also been open about dealing with negative comments surrounding her body following a growth spurt.
“I dealt with a lot of negativity, like two years ago,” Liu told the Associated Press. “At one point, I was like, why are they literally coming for a 14 year old? That’s so weird. They’re just kind of creepy for that. Why are they looking at a minor’s body that way? It’s just a little weird and kind of wrong, obviously.”
Young skaters, like Valieva, are often inherently smaller, as their bodies have not fully developed. But this still puts pressure on older skaters.
“We see girls who are really young and thin and who do really well in our sport,” said Josefin Taljegård, a 26-year-old Swedish figure skater who competed in the women’s individual event in Beijing. “Maybe that’s why they’re so skinny – because they’re still children.
“It usually is not like ‘Oh you have to look this kind of way’ but sometimes one can hear ’Oh if you were skinnier, you would jump higher or rotate faster.’”