This Makes Me Sad: Olympian Shawn Johnson Was Called Fat
I'm a longtime gymnastics fan. When I was younger I would sit riveted in front of the TV and watch my favorite gymnast, Dominique Moceanu, compete in everything that I could find. I watched the "Magnificent Seven" win the gold medal at the Olympic games in Atlanta in 1996 and cried my eyes out.
I still picture Moceanu's floor routine whenever I hear the song "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" by The Charlie Daniels Band.
Like I said -- I am a fan.
So today when I read about US Gymnast and Olympic Gold Medalist Shawn Johnson dropping 25 pounds when people online started calling her "fat" I felt sad. Johnson said that she would google herself and the word "fat" and find scores of people who were criticizing her weight.
Um, excuse me? Only the people closest to me are allowed to tell me that I might need to lose a few pounds, and even then those folks are in danger of getting totally chewed out by me. But people that I don't know posting about me online? That's crossing the line.
Weight is a very sensitive subject - since when is it ok for people who have never met Ms. Johnson to criticize her weight? What kind of alternate universe is this?
Granted, we should all pay attention to our weight. Obesity is a very real issue that we are battling here in America. But the photo that I see above, on the left, of Shawn Johnson "before" she lost the weight hardly screams "fatty" to me. Actually, I see a young woman who looks happy, and physically fit. Seriously, check out those guns!
What kind of message are we sending to young women? Just last week I walked out of the bathroom after getting ready and my 5 year old daughter took one look at me and said "Mommy, you look so skinny!"
What? Not pretty? Not nice? Not I love that dress? MOMMY YOU LOOK SO SKINNY?
I was mortified. I realize that somehow my own issues have called this to her attention. Since then I've been working hard to not only accept my own body, but to teach my daughter about being healthy, not skinny.
It's a shame that it has come to this. Who could doubt that Shawn Johnson was healthy in her "before" photo? No one. Johnson told USA Today "It's hard. I was at the Olympic Games winning medals and I still doubted my image. I doubted what I looked like. That's sad. Girls should be taught different than that. I think everyone should be taught different than that."
I agree with her. We should all be taught differently. I'm sorry that Johnson has had to deal with this - but I surely hope that my daughter, and your daughters will not. And I'll teach my son the same lessons - and that women are beautiful in all shapes and forms.
I hope you will do the same.