Saturday, October 13, 2012

Little Girls in Pretty Boxes


Even in the strive for Olympic glory young girls are losing the chance to be “themselves.” I was listening to other people talk about the Olympics and thought of how much each athlete gives up to try to achieve that glory. I found this book about what young girls give up and what they go through just for the chance to compete. Is it really worth giving up a life for a few moments of glory? 
 
Front Cover
Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters is a 1995 nonfiction book by sports writer, Joan Ryan. She details the difficult training regimens endured by young women in competitive sports such as gymnastics and ice skating. Ryan’s material was largely derived from personal interviews with nearly 100 former gymnasts and figure skaters as well as trainers, sports psychologists, physiologists and other experts, focusing on the physical and emotional hardships young women endured for the sake of Olympic glory and was ultimately critical of training practices. She argues that the image of these athletes’ beauty, glamour, class and sophistication conceals a troubled reality, with physical problems of eating disorders, weakened bones, stunted growth, debilitating and fatal injuries, psychological issues such as depression and low self-esteem, and life sacrifices of dropping out of school, losing the chance to "be a child", and becoming isolated from their peers and families. While decrying these practices, Ryan advocates for systemic change in figure skating and gymnastics, calling for raising minimum-age requirements, mandatory licensing of coaches and careful scrutiny by national governing bodies, and requiring athletes to remain in regular schools at least until they are 16.

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