In the gymnastics world I am someone that could be known as a plus sized athlete. I never have been and never will be the same size as my teammates. Throughout my years in the sport I have heard in one way or another that I'm a "big girl." When you hear these words being thrown at you for most of your life you really start to believe it. These are things that get ingrained in your whole being. By the time I hit age 16 I felt too big for my sport, like I shouldn't be allowed to do the things that I was doing. I thought about quitting more and more often, but I never voiced it because my love for the sport always seemed to over power the shadows that others were casting on me.
A coach is someone that is supposed to help you grow both in your sport and as a person. While there are plenty of amazing coaches out there that do just that, there are coaches that will belittle their athlete to try to make them better. Little comments here and there about my size that she thought were discrete didn't make me feel better or work harder. I wasn't allowed to try things that I felt I was fully capable of because she thought I was too heavy to try them. These comments sent me in a downward spiral and hacked apart my self confidence. I didn't enjoy going to practice anymore, but I didn't stop because I couldn't imagine my life without gymnastics. Now that I no longer have that kind of toxicity in my life I am doing much better. I try to stay healthy and watch my weight, but I'm doing it for myself, not to impress a coach that doesn't think that I'm capable of doing things that I know I can do.
Recently, I read an article about a Mexican Olympic gymnast, Alexa Moreno, that was being body shamed by the very people that should have been supporting her and cheering her on. They took to Twitter and made horrific comments about her weight and size. In reading this I couldn't help but become angry. The olympics are supposed to be about coming together and having a sense of pride for the people that are representing your country. It honestly pissed me off that these people were criticizing someone that was sharing her gift for their country. As a gymnast, she was doing things that a majority of the people criticizing her couldn't even dream of. She did not deserve even one of those negative words. Even as a collegiate gymnast I can confidently say that she is an amazing gymnast.
Alexa, we "fat" girls need to stick together, hold our heads high, and keep doing the amazing things that we know we are capable of.