I had coffee yesterday with the amazing Jenni Schaefer. She wrote the books Life Without ED and Goodbye Ed, Hello Me (both about overcoming Eating Disorders). She is a hero to many of the women with eating disorders who I’ve worked with (and therefore a hero of mine) and I remember how much buzz there was that she was going to be moving here. I was so excited to sit down with her and she was just as awesome as you might imagine. We got onto the subject of online dating. (If you’re a long-time reader you already know about some of my misadventures in dating, and with online dating in particular.)
This conversation focused on the “check the box body type” box that is typically required when setting up a profile (ie: thin, average, athletic, voluptuous, curvy, BBW).
The one I want to talk about is “athletic”. My understanding of the perception of athletic (as verified by two of my heterosexual male friends) is “thin, possibly with muscles, definitely small boobs”. But the idea is obviously problematic. I’m an athlete but if I checked the box for “athletic body”, the person I ended up on a date with would likely feel that I had been disingenuous.
Cheryl Haworth is an Olympic medal-winning heavyweight weightlifter. In a typical workout she lifts as much as 25 tons – the weight of an F-15 fighter jet. Cheryl holds a record for clean and jerk of 355 pounds. That means that I could hold a 71 pound weight and then Cheryl could push me and the weight OVER HER HEAD. Who would like to tell Cheryl Haworth that she does not have an athletic body, please step forward…
That’s what I thought.
When did being an athlete become more about how a body looks and less about what it can do? And who gets to dole out the title of athlete. I’ve met plenty of people who thinks it’s their right, but none of them had a sash or a gavel or anything. These are probably the same idiots who say that I don’t have a dancer’s body. Bite me.
Why are there requirements to call yourself an athlete? Why does the title of athlete need to be protected? If every person in the world thought of themselves as an athlete, what bad thing would happen? It doesn’t make anyone’s work less valuable because other people are doing different work. If you feel that you lose something because someone else gets to identify as an athlete too, then you’ve missed the point.
If you haven’t seen it, check out the Athletes of Every Size Flickr account and add your pictures if you are so moved!
I believe that you are an athlete if you believe you are, and your body is athletic if you say it is. Athletes come in every shape and size.