The other day, I posted about the unfortunate rash of quackery that has infiltrated swimmers competing in the Olympics. Today, however, I want to talk about someone whom, I hope, will become a role model and inspiration.
Outrage ensued on the internet when people saw that Mexico sent Alexa Moreno to compete in the Olympics in gymnastics. Was it perhaps because she said something outrageously offensive, racist or homophobic? Was it because she was endorsing some form of quackery, or was found to be taking performance-enhancing drugs? No, of course not. It was because she looks like this.
And no, the problem was not that she has some badass muscles. According to the internet, she’s too “fat” to be a gymnast, and so she was bombarded with haters and trolls.
I’m glad to see that Twitter (of all places) fought back against the body shaming. The criticisms were of course groundless, she was good enough to qualify for the Olympics for heaven’s sake, that means that her body type did not stand in the way of her talent. Instead, I’m ecstatic that she qualified and competed, because it means that there is finally someone out there who shows everyone that developing curves does not mean the end of your dreams.
I was never into gymnastics growing up, but I had a few friends who were. They all started before puberty, and they all loved it. However, when they started to reach that crucial age, a couple of my friends were developing a chest and hips. They were all quite short, all at the same level of talent, if anything one of the girls who was becoming curvy was slightly better than the rest. However, when their trainers saw that they were not going to remain slender framed for the rest of their lives, they were told that, most unfortunately, they did not win the genetic lottery on this one. They were told that their curves would make them most ill-suited to continuing gymnastics, regardless of their muscle tone, and that they really should consider exploring other sports. One of my friends was devastated as she watched her slight teammates continue without her. She might have been the only girl I ever met who disliked having breasts as a teenager, when most other girls were stuffing their bras with toilet paper and eying her with envy. It took her years into adulthood to finally accept and be proud of her (by most standards excellent) figure.
When I look at Alexa Moreno, I think of her, and of how many other girls will look at her and know that puberty does not necessarily mean the end of their dreams. They might not all end up Olympians of course, but most children don’t in any sport. The simple fact that they have someone to look up to, and that maybe they will not feel so ostracized, or be excluded just because they develop hips and breasts, and can continue doing a sport that makes them happy, that’s already a huge positive to come out of these Olympics.
So, if you want to emulate someone in these Olympics, emulate Alexa Moreno for defying stereotypes, and not those silly swimmers for covering their backs with unnecessary bruises.