I love my sport of figure skating. If I didn't, I wouldn't still be skating. I love the feel of being on the ice: feeling like you're flying and defying gravity. I love the friendships I have made because of it. I love the lessons that I have learned and the person I've become because of figure skating.
I hate the environment of competitive figure skating.
I hate the unwritten expectations, the rumors, stereotypes, and flood of mental health issues coming out from ex-figure skaters. I hate that even when I love my sport so much, I have concerns about my image every time I step on the ice. I love my sport, just not the environment that comes with it.
Figure skating is a sport that combines athleticism with beauty. It is one of the hardest sports in the world as well as a beautiful sport to watch, and it is truly something special. But something so beautiful can be extremely dangerous. When I was a competitive skater outside of the collegiate level, I felt immense pressure to fit a certain look, which included hair color, makeup style (even at practices), weight, and height (and as a tall girl in a sport desired for short girls, you can see where I'd feel like the odd one out since nobody can control their height).
I started to realize that who I was making myself out to be was not who I really was, and when I started to fluctuate weight while going through puberty, I really started to feel the pressure of being a certain way physically. It got to the point where I developed unhealthy eating habits and became obsessed with my looks purely to please judges and my skating peers at competitions, and I am sure I wasn't the only one. So many skaters have come out discussing similar issues. It seems like if there is such a large problem, something should be done about it.
As far as I know, not much is being done, and all that might be able to be done is create a culture change. I personally was able to step back and put my priorities in line, but for some, it isn't that easy. All I can say is to anyone going through a similar thing with their sport, stay true to yourself and keep the love for your sport alive.