Okay, of course they’re not. Although I’m sure some of these fit, muscular athletes would qualify as “obese” according to BMI calculations. (Which are crap, in case you hadn’t picked up on that.)
But shaming and scaring women about their weight never seems to go out of style, as evidenced by two stories I’ve seen in the last two days as I’ve attempted to access my Yahoo email account.
The first, Luger Aya Yasuda disqualified for missing weight, prompted a loud noise of scorn when I read its disingenuous “oh, did you think we meant…? No!” winkiness:
This is a touchy subject. Japan’s Aya Yasuda has been disqualified from the women’s luge event Tuesday for being over weight.
Not “overweight.” At 132 pounds, Yasuda is the ideal size for luging. It’s her equipment that weighs too much.
PSYCH! She’s not fat! …how much do you weigh? I bet you’re not the ideal size.
The next day, Ice dancer Belbin has put on weight, and she couldn’t be happier popped up, and I decided posting a screed rather than pounding my fists was in order. Another great (where great = contemptible ) lede:
There is no denying that American ice dancer Tanith Belbin is a beautiful woman. … But the Belbin you’ll see take the ice Friday night is very different than the one who won silver at Turin in 2006.
This Belbin is 10 pounds heavier, and she couldn’t be happier about that.
It’s okay, ladies, you can gain ten pounds! It will make you happy! Only if you’re as pretty and slender as Belbin, though…oh, you’re not? Well, don’t let our inordinate focus on policing the bodies of women in the public eye (and the private eye, and every eye) make you feel self-conscious! Hey, would you like some soup?
The story then goes on to note that Belbin has struggled with disordered eating, which is presented a slight bump in the road on the way to Olympic Gold, even though the quote they present from the skater herself doesn’t make it sound so innocuous:
“I thought I was out of control and that the weight gain must be my fault,” she said. “I was like, I’m eating nothing and I’m still not losing weight. I swear, I’m not eating anything and I’m exhausted and cranky and stressed and all of those things that make you gain weight even more.”
So, she was unhappy about gaining weight, and so was starving herself, which made her gain more weight? But now she’s gained weight and is happy? Bad writing, Yahoo! Sports. But no matter, now that Belbin has gained some muscle (not fat, though, never fat!) she’s headed for success on the world stage! U! S! A! U! S! A!
I know that reasons for athlete disqualification are worth documenting, and “human interest” angles on competitors are par for the course, but there is ZERO reason to focus on athletes’ weight, rather than their health–what’s wrong with saying “Belbin has worked on gaining strength since Torino”?, or cutesily framing things that have nothing to do with the athlete’s body at all as an issue of being “overweight–oh, I mean over weight.”
But you can’t make a shamey, triggering story out of basic facts.