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Thread: Social media, skaters, 'fans' and bodyshaming

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    Social media, skaters, 'fans' and bodyshaming

    Disclaimer: This is not supposed to be a thread about Eteri, her training methods, teenage jumping beans and please for the love of god no discussion about Orser vs Eteri. Thank you.

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    A scary number of skaters are very active on social media, many of them underaged.
    A scary load of attention is paid to these underage athletes on social media (culminating, for example in a scandal in of a 13yo making a stupid joke about doping on instagram...)
    A scary load of stupid stuff is written about these skaters on social media that they should not read for their mental health (most prominently Medvedeva and Zagitova said they stopped reading social media and hired pr... I can assure you people still write a lot of bs about the two of them so good decicion!)
    A scary load of skaters devellop mental health problems and eating disorders - many of these because they get told a lot they don't have the right weight for the sport a lot and consequently don't feel comfortable in their bodies.
    In recent history, there were a lot of media personalities commenting on skaters weight - I remember Liza Tuktamysheva called a guest in a podcast out on twitter because he commented she should lose weight at the start of the season.
    This is - as many have noted - not ok.

    Now why am I opening a threat?
    Because I think you don't have to be a media personality to have responsibility for what you are saying.
    There are a lot of underage girls from Russia (and I believe other countries as well) that are very active on Instagram and other social media - like 13yo Shobotova livestreaming that stupid doping joke - and they obviously like to read and watch pictures or comments about themselves.
    Somebody linked me this post about 18yo Elisabeth Tursynbaeva who gets bodyshamed by many commentators about her youthful appearance and weight. See for yourself:

    https://www.instagram.com/p/BttovuQH...=1e62tssjmxare

    Please note how some still do not stop when she personally answers some 'fan-theories' about how her appearance is not normal and she get's starved by her training team.

    This is how you devellop body image issues.

    I don't know how people believe these posts in social media (that many skaters read!!) are not damaging the skaters themselves.

    Sometimes, the skater is even tagged. This is no skating forum - this is instagram. I can only conclude people want the skaters to read their crazy theories about their bodies. This 'fan behaviour' has already reached dangerous levels. Not only coaches or media personalities words can affect a skaters mental health.

    Thoughts?
    Do you think people can people rethink their boundaries about what to post on social media?

    At the moment I'm too sad to be mad about this post that Lilbet read and the comments that even doubted her own words about her own body.

    Note: I have also seen other 'hate' posts even tagging the skaters themselves, sometimes it's only about their jumps, sometimes about things they said and sometimes even about their weight. It's NOT about Eteri, it's about the use of social media.

    Disclaimer2: Yes, this is Elisabet's natural body shape. She is not starved, she has been at this height and weight for years. She is 18 and spent the last 5 years training in Canada under Brian Orser. Many grown up Kasach women look similar to her. Orser did NOT delay her puberty and she now looks the same training with Team Tutberitze. This problem has nothing to do with Orser vs Eteri. She herself says this is her natural body shape and she eats enough - please do not assume otherwise.

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    Very well said. What I don't understand: at which point are we allowed to say an athlete looks scary thin? Was olymic zhenya looking scary thin? Is current alina looking scary thin?

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    Tripping on the Podium VenusHalley's Avatar
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    I don't think though that the poster meant it in a bad way, their page seems to be mostly positive.

    I don't know Elisabeth and how she looked. Yes, there are some people who are naturally tiny and thin, especially Asians. For me it's more concerning if somebody rapidly loses weight (yeah Evgenia during Olympics was concerning... especially with the extend of injuries that there were).

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    On the Ice MissBeeFarm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VenusHalley View Post
    I don't think though that the poster meant it in a bad way, their page seems to be mostly positive.

    I don't know Elisabeth and how she looked. Yes, there are some people who are naturally tiny and thin, especially Asians. For me it's more concerning if somebody rapidly loses weight (yeah Evgenia during Olympics was concerning... especially with the extend of injuries that there were).
    The road to hell is paved with good intentions... The OP indeed seemed to have good interests in mind, but the Eteri vs. Orser fan war that followed with a myriad of speculations about who is unhealthy and who turned anorexic when is pretty disgusting. It's sad how skaters have to read how random people on the internet speculate about their bodies, calling their coaches liars and whatnot.

    Didn't Alina say that before Euros she went off social media to not be distracted? I can't imagine how horrible it must be to find yourself the object of all kinds of speculation

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    On the Ice Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by malya View Post
    Thoughts?

    Do you think people can rethink their boundaries about what to post on social media?
    No. Sadly I think that the genie has been let out of the bottle. People will not be able or willing to stop posting cruel and harmful messages on the Internet.

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    “I solemnly swear I’m up to no good” Sam-Skwantch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    No. Sadly I think that the genie has been let out of the bottle. People will not be able or willing to stop posting cruel and harmful messages on the Internet.
    Sadly I agree. We’ve reached a point we’re people’s opinion of their own opinions seems a bit inflated and maybe even serves as fuel for the fire.

    I think it’s our greatest creations that test us the most and expose us for who we are on the whole.

    I personally believe speculation stemming from puberty and weight are out of bounds and are not only unhealthy but can even serve as a trigger to those susceptible to those types of discussions.

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    On the Ice TripleAxelQueens3's Avatar
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    For everybody concerned about Lil Bet:

    she wrote many comments in response saying that she actually eats a lot. So it’s probably just her natural body shape. And social media is horrible but the journalism from US and Russia...

    The US media is not doing Alysa any favors by giving her so much pressure. Yes, she’s a star and I can’t wait until she turns junior next season, but calling her the answer to Russia and Japan and saying she will trump them with her consistent 3A... that’s so much pressure for a THIRTEEN year old! They’ve held Bradie up to such a high standard, proclaiming she can stand next to Kihira and Zagitova, but where are the gold medals? And Shabatova, she said the right dope with chocolate, but of course they left that out in the article!

    But I think young skaters need PR advice or else they should just leave social media, everything they do in social media is dissected carefully, and even funny jokes are taken seriously. Not having instagram or twitter can only be beneficial.

  8. #8
    Bona Fide Member andromache's Avatar
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    Worrying about skaters' health in a sport that is full of eating disorders and other mental illnesses is okay.

    Speculating about specific conditions that someone may or not may have with no evidence is bad.

    Sometimes it's a tough line to walk.

    And whatever you do, don't post your thoughts online and tag the skater EVER unless it's to tell them something nice about their SKATING or a cute interview they gave or something - never their appearance.

  9. #9
    Here for the High Lord of Extra TallyT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by malya View Post
    Thoughts?
    Do you think people can people rethink their boundaries about what to post on social media?
    But for the most part, they're not going to.

    It's not just bodyshaming, and it's not just recent: there's a reason why Yuzu's fans are actually thankful he's never been on social media, pretty much ever since the earthquake the sheer vitriol from the carping and jealous (a small minority compared to his fan base, but shrill and vicious) has been horrifying. And then there was the outpouring of bile towards Adelina Sotnikova...

    This is one of those times when technology is outstripping society's ability to control the effects of technology, and it's going to be a while before people work out how to do it.

    Teenagers can be vicious (as I recall all too well), and teenagers can be very vulnerable. Most of these young girls (and boys) have grown up on social media and can't imagine life without it, so it's little use telling them to turn it off and protect themselves... until, like Evgenia and Alina, they get hit by the effects. I guess... like anything, many of them will have to learn the hard way. It has teeth, and venom, and nothing's going to change that, as young as they are they will have to learn to filter, both ways, or they will suffer.

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    Social networks are a plague, not just for skaters. It's so easy to say anything and everything ...
    In addition I think that even the fans can represent a pressure for the skaters. Some fans spend their time praising their favorite skater and some post dozens of messages or photos a day saying that they want the person to succeed or win medals. I think it puts a lot of pressure on the shoulders of the skaters even if it starts with a good intention.

  11. #11
    JULLLIEEEEETTTT! Step Sequence4's Avatar
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    Everyone uses social media. There isn't really a way to get around this other than ignoring it (as unfortunate as that is) and it isn't even just social media, the podcast guest about Liza T, too.

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    On the Ice TripleAxelQueens3's Avatar
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    Looking through some tumblr blogs I have to say something:

    the hypocrisy is insane. One moment they’re saying “Oh get well soon Alina!” and the next they are saying, “Oh she’s done for”. Like what? And this person insists that Trusova trying quads isn’t a breakthrough in advancing the sport, and anybody who supports her is sexist. The first part, okay, maybe your “worried about her health”, but the second? Isn’t it just as draining to boys to attempt quads at a young age? Why only target Trusova? Isn’t that sexist? And also, people are trying so hard to defend Rika’s quads praising the technique even though it’s just as bad as the über Russian juniors. Why do you need to put down Trusova and co to put up Rika? And they kept on hating on Nathan for her Nationals Score, did he request a super inflated score? No, he doesn’t control that. Thank goodness most skaters probably haven’t heard of tumblr, that place is horrible!

    Instagram is just as bad really, so many comments are so hateful, but thank goodness the big video accounts are supportive and nice!

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    Well written! I am shocked by what people feel is OK to say about and to others these days. Some people are naturally thin (especially when young) and some are a bit heavier. What is considered normal also varies a lot. A girl who is considered underweight by Americans is seen as perfectly normal in Europe and Asia. On the subject of Tursynbaeva - I was myself naturally thin on a normal three meals a day diet. Before the age of thrity I just couldn't gain weight regardless of how much I ate. Do people who consider these young girls "malnourished" (in the case of Tursynbaeva) or "needing to lose weight" (in the case of Tuktamysheva) seriously think they would be able to do what they do if their statements were true?

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    Bodyshaming is wrong, no matter wether it is fat shaming, skinny shaming or any other kind bodyshaming imaginable.
    But this is not Elisabet's natural body shape. Why? She is an athlete, a world class athlete. She's trained very hard and is obviously keeping a very strict diet to have the body that she has and that she needs in order to be successful. To suggest that she looks normal, that a normal healthy girl could look like her, could have her body is just as wrong as bodyshaming is and has it's very own risks. Elisabet is obviously doing everything necessary to be a factor in this sport. I have huge respect for her and for her achievements this season. But there is the danger, that young susceptible girls who read this thread actually think that Elisabet looks like a normal 18 year old girl and want to look like her. And that wouldn't be a good message, that's why I wrote this post.

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    Piper and Paul are made of magic dust and unicorns Lester's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    No. Sadly I think that the genie has been let out of the bottle. People will not be able or willing to stop posting cruel and harmful messages on the Internet.
    They are not cruel or harmful if you keep in mind that it is just some bored people somewhere tossing out their super important opinion as if anyone cares about it.

    Sure, teenagers are impressionable people and their self-esteem is not yet fully formed or independent but I don't think it is helpful to view them as fragile snowflakes whose brains will collapse if they read anything negative. Or to come up with absurd notions such as 'bodyshaming' and to go to war for what people write. Negative feedback is part of life and the sooner kids learn to deal with it, the better. I mean by assessing the feedback they receive without much investment, not by demanding from these same strangers that they change their views or behaviour. Coaches and parents can help with that. The world is not a 'safe space', but the good news is that not all you hear or read matters much.

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    “I solemnly swear I’m up to no good” Sam-Skwantch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by solani View Post
    But there is the danger, that young susceptible girls who read this thread actually think that Elisabet looks like a normal 18 year old girl and want to look like her. And that wouldn't be a good message, that's why I wrote this post.
    I think it’s just important to push the narrative that there aren’t normal 18 year old bodies. I know people around 30 years old that are Elisabet’s size and that’s alright because it’s their body type. The best way to reach your optimal weight is thru healthy eating and exercise. That’s what’s important. Eat well and excercise hard to optimize your chances like any other sport.

    My real point is that looking at someone and trying to become their size is already a path in the wrong direction. A more healthy way is to look at yourself and become the best you.

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    “I solemnly swear I’m up to no good” Sam-Skwantch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lester View Post
    They are not cruel or harmful if you keep in mind that it is just some bored people somewhere tossing out their super important opinion as if anyone cares about it.

    Sure, teenagers are impressionable people and their self-esteem is not yet fully formed or independent but I don't think it is helpful to view them as fragile snowflakes whose brains will collapse if they read anything negative. Or to come up with absurd notions such as 'bodyshaming' and to go to war for what people write.
    I’m not sure if you’ve ever been a part of support group for someone recovering from an eating disorder but the mind betrays them at times and triggers do exist. It’s not about viewing the whole group (teenagers) but about making reasonable considerations for a select few which may be vulnerable.

    Negative feedback is part of life and the sooner kids learn to deal with it, the better. I mean by assessing the feedback they receive without much investment, not by demanding from these same strangers that they change their views or behaviour. Coaches and parents can help with that. The world is not a 'safe space', but the good news is that not all you hear or read matters much.
    There is a huge difference between someone who overvalues their own opinion and wrecklessly posts it to social media and actual productive negative feedback. If you honestly believe skaters don’t receive and aren’t learning about negative feedback from coaches, peers, and judges then I think you really undervalue the real life experiences this sport provides.

    I think it’s OK to be considerate of others who might not be as strong as we perceive ourselves to be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sam-Skwantch View Post
    My real point is that looking at someone and trying to become their size is already a path in the wrong direction. A more healthy way is to look at yourself and becone the best you.
    I fully agree.
    I only want to add that world class athletes often don't look the way they'd find themselves most attractive. Elisabet probably wants to be curvier, but knows that she can't if she wants to do quads. We'll know how she wants to look like after her athletic career. Speed skaters often have massive tighs, it can't be helped. They are still attractive imo, because they are fit and healthy. But girls don't want to look like speed skaters, they want to look like figure skaters, so this is a sensitive subject and should be treated as such.

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    Saying vicious things about someone is definitely wrong. Looking the other way when you see increasing unhealthiness in a sport you love just abets the problem. I think it's possible to note what you see in general while avoiding speculation about an individual. I, for one, do not plan on going back to the days of not so much as mentioning eating disorders because, Oh, no, that doesn't happen in figure skating, they are naturally that way. Right. And I say that as someone who at one time had a natural BMI of 18 and who knows how rare that really is.

    I see very unhealthy things happening in figure skating. I've been complaining about the quad's toll on bodies since it started and I will complain about the premium placed on having undeveloped thin bodies by the demand for increased revolutions by females. The difference to me is that quads cause structural damage that can be repaired, at least for awhile. Eating disorders and any attempt at forestalling puberty are a whole 'nother ball game. And I have no idea who does this stuff and who doesn't, but it isn't good and I don't like it in this sport.

  20. #20
    Tripping on the Podium louisa05's Avatar
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    Assuming someone has an eating disorder based on nothing but appearance is wrong and potentially very damaging on many, many levels.

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