Monday, April 09, 2007

big is not a four letter word.

Alison Bales, Duke University Center

...The difference today, at least in basketball, is that big women are more secure in being and playing big, said Goestenkors, the Duke coach. She said that Bales, the Blue Devils' center, proudly wore three-inch heels, which made her 6-10, while the team was in CancĂșn, Mexico, in December. Bales said a photograph of her in heels on Duke's Web site had elicited several grateful messages from tall girls or their parents.
...from an excellent article my friend sent me the other day stemming from the debate over whether women competing in sports should be weighed or not.
some feel it's just a part of measuring an athlete's overall health (most argue it's to monitor for quick weight loss or gain), but others (and, surprise, i fall into this category) think it causes unnecessary anxiety about a factor that isn't particularly indicative of an athlete's health or ability to perform optimally, and can lead to the dreaded female athlete triad - eating disorders, amennorhea, osteoporosis. it's an interesting debate, and i recognize the flaw in my thinking. i want women to be given the same advantages that men are given - in sports, in business, in life - but is asking that female athletes not be weighed and their weights not be made public (like all male athletes are required to do) asking for preferential treatment? or is it just protecting our young female athletes from the reality that is our weight- and size-obsessed culture?

i suppose what we ultimately want to strive for is a redefinition of what it means to be

BIG

TALL

WOMAN

all at the same time. many of the young women the article mentions - college basketball players Courtney and Ashley Paris, the Williams girls, the women of the WNBA - seem to be doing just that, god love 'em. in the same article, Courtney Paris is referred to as "the female Shaquille O'Neal." and that's a compliment. i love that. i know sports is not the cure-all, there are plenty of eating disordered athletes out there, but i do think it can help shift ones relationship with the body from passive - the body to be preened, plucked and paraded - to active - the body to run, to dance, to leap, to lunge.

(unfortunately, i think the article is now only available if you have a subscription to the Times, if you're desperate to read it, let me know, and i'll email you a copy. hush hush.)

2 comments:

PalmTreeChick said...

They (the trainers) started weighing athletes at my college during pre-season to make sure they were staying hydrated during that horrible triple session practices in August. (Thank God they didn't start doing that until after I graduated). I understand why they have to do this, but as far as weighing athletes just in general, I don't really think it's necessary unless there is some concern that the athlete may have a problem.

Anonymous said...

My brothers were wrestlers- a sport in which weighing matters a great deal and for reasons not necessarily related to being in shape or being healthy, but because it would be unfair for someone 260lbs. to wrestle someone 75lbs. So typically men wrestle in the weight category one or two notches below what they really are in order to gain advantage. My brothers would starve themselves as much as they could on the days before weigh-in, which were school days, and so had no energy during the day, went to practice at night, and then were expected to do homework. No wonder they were such jerks in the morning. It's no surprise athletes are always battling dropping grades. Once they made weight, they binged on the food they had been denying themselves the week before. Then almost immediately they were back into the same cycle of dehydrating themselves and fasting in order to make weight for the next meet. I don't think its just the ladies we need to protect. Under the protective cover of "varsity athlete" you had a bunch of men with eating disorders getting by on their youthful energy and learning extremist behavior that inevitably bled into their adult lives.