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By Danielle E.

Parents put their children into many sports hoping that their child will walk out with a positive outcome of what sport they would like to play permanently. What the parents do not consider is how certain sports can leave a negative impact on their child. Meaning, that their child is being judged on their external appearance rather than what kind of person they are and how they perform. This is affecting many children and teens by making them believe that they need to be perfect for society and fit society’s needs. This causes a child or teen to develop an eating disorder, have low self-esteem and question if they will be good enough for anything besides their sport. So, the question is, “should athletic judges be allowed to judge on external appearances?”

The main sports that judge on appearance is diving, figure skating, dancing and gymnastics. There is pressure on both men and women who attend these sports, but the main concern is on women. In a recent study, it has been recorded that 62% of women who involve themselves in these sports are fighting an eating disorder. The cause of the eating disorder is brought upon by the judges, the coaches and of course the media. The coaches are strict on the girls to lose weight because the judges have admitted to, “consider thinness to be an important factor in deciding excellence.” And where might you guess that the judges got this thought process from, the media.

Commercials, television shows, the Internet and even the radio have brainwashed children at a young age to, “lose weight, be thin and beautiful, buy more stuff because people will like us and we’ll be better people for it.” Not only does this type of thinking affect a child’s thought process about what they should look like when they step out the door but it also affects the specific sport they play. Ballet dancers and dancers in general are known as being a “slender individual…with the stress of achieving perfection for performance…and additional pressures from their instructor to maintain and/or lose weight that becomes unreasonable.” Due to this way of thinking, in 1997 a twenty- two year old ballerina by the name of Heidi Guenther passed away from a fatal heart attack due to her eating disorder. As for gymnasts and figure skaters, they fit the same profile as a dancer and have to live up to the same external appearance. In 1994 at the age of twenty- two, gymnast Christy Henrich passed away due to complications in her eating disorder.

Not only have I researched how all sources of judgment can have a negative impact on athletes but, I know someone very close to me that has experienced it. My cousin Kristy at the age of four started figure skating for the fun of getting all dressed up and learning cute routines, but sadly it soon escalated. At the age of ten she started being judged because of her weight and was often told her weight was getting in the way of her winning. This caused her to exercise all the time with unhealthy eating patterns and on top of that started taking weight loss supplements. In her twenties she was soon addicted to those supplements and other drugs, which caused her to go to rehab six years ago. I am happy to say she is now five years sober and healthier than ever.

After doing research and learning what girls are going through to fit society’s needs, is it really worth it to judge on external appearance to get that five seconds of fame after winning first place?

Works Cited

1.    “The Incidence of Eating Disorders Among Athletes Continues to Rise.” Raderprograms. Web. 3 Apr. 2013.

2.    “The Media.” SomethingFishy. n.p. n.d.

3.    Dawes, Dominique. Appearance Plays a Role in Judging. FoxSports, May 2012. Web. 3 Apr. 2013.

4.    Ormond, Kristy. Personal Interview. 2. Apr. 2013.