15 Comments
Apr 25Liked by Virginia Sole-Smith

This is really spot on. I went to college on a softball scholarship in the early 2010s and I would say more of us on the team had a bad relationship with food than didn't. Our coaches controlled what we could eat when we had team meals (we regularly had to watch our head coach eat chicken parm with a coke while we had salad and water) and obviously how much we exercised. We were also required to go to a talk about how to spot disordered eating in friends and teammates (none of the men's sports teams had to go to this, just all the women's sports, *barf*) and me and the other fat girls on the team were in the back making jokes about how we shouldn't have had to go there because we obviously didn't have eating disorders (we all did, literally all of us). This dynamic feels like an even bigger bummer in hindsight because softball is a sport where body diversity is an advantage for teams; being a good softball team means you need some girls who are little and fast, some who are big and powerful, etc. I had super disordered eating before I got to college (lost significant weight in about three months from calorie restriction and compulsive exercise) and then when I got there the stress of being on the team brought on some binging habits and my body returned to it's original weight DESPITE very intense workouts almost every day. That personal experience perfectly echoed what we hear about set point theory; if your body can put on fifty pounds while you're on a division 1 college sports team that's probably just how big it's supposed to be. Thanks for your thoughtful writing as always!! Love from your fat jock readers <3

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OMG the VIOLENCE of that chicken parm/salad story. Enraged for you. Softball should absolutely not be this!!

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Climbing has had a huge RED-S issue and they released a new policy for it and it’s been met with a lot of criticism, especially for the ways it’s a completely impossible policy for trans athletes to comply with because the questions being asked assume cis body parts. Reading this chapter reminded me I should keep looking into that!

And thanks for tagging my work! One of the coolest things I learned while reporting my book was about how football is such a fat-positive space, especially for women.

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Ohhh yes, that makes sense on the RED-S/trans issue. Argh. Can't wait to read what you write on that!

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As a 14 year old who was a pretty good tennis player, I tried out for the high school freshman team. The coach flat out told me I was to heavy to play on his team - I never even hit a ball in front of him. He said if I lost 50 lbs, I could out for JV the following year. I essentially stopped playing tennis right then.

I'm hopeful that this can change. I was a very athletic kid. It was essentially squashed out of me.

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founding
Apr 25Liked by Virginia Sole-Smith

Wow. I’ve read your book but rereading this chapter was so so good. Thank you

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Thanks so much!

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Lauren Fleshman wrote a wonderful book about running that talked about this extensively, I think she'd be such a good podcast guest! My high school cross country and track experiences are the happiest memories I have and gave me lifelong friends (and my husband) and a foundation for lifelong mental well-being. Collegiate running on the other hand was just riddled with disordered eating and coaches who knew nothing about how to help women thrive in sports. I hate the professionalization of youth sports, it puts so many kids at risk and deprives them of a great, casual experience. You can't really play pickup or casual sports these days, parents have really lost the plot on this.

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I agree. I loved Lauren’s book, but it is so infuriating that sports are so obsessed with weight instead of focusing on training and the actual sport, to the extreme detriment of a lot of young people.

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founding

I definitely enjoyed getting access to another chapter of the book! I hadn’t planned on reading it in full because I’m not a parent, don’t plan to be one, and don’t have many children in my life — but Virginia’s intro had me reconsidering.

I do have one gripe though and it’s that I sincerely almost didn’t listen because of the music in the background 😬. Not sure if I’m more sensitive to that than others or if it was just too loud relative to Virginia’s voice, but it was a dealbreaker for me. I skipped ahead a minute or so to see if the music would fade out and thankfully it did.

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Thank you so much for sharing this! I’m hesitant to read the book in full because I don’t feel up to remembering all the insults and humiliation and internalized anti-fat bias of childhood. This is so so good and helped me face that fear! Also, am I right that besides Natalie and Meghan, every coach mentioned in any sport is male, regardless of team composition? I wish I wasn’t so grossed out by that.

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You are not going to find a fat equestrian...sorry. Horses truly do have weight limits.

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Actually found at least half a dozen between Instagram and Google! Really appreciate this blogger's perspective:

https://www.theplaidhorse.com/2021/02/10/i-am-a-fat-equestrian-and-im-never-dieting-again/

https://www.theplaidhorse.com/2021/11/21/how-the-equestrian-community-can-be-more-size-inclusive/

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founding

These are small-fat women. There really are weight limits- it’s about 250 because you have to consider the weight of the tack. I am too big to ride a horse, even a large quarter horse or draft horse.

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author

Fair point. It does sound like the equestrian community needs to reckon with some anti-fatness though — no need for stables to make gross jokes about their weight limits, for example!

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