Size-ism: how it is targeted toward female athletes
Walking into the gym where my cheer team was about to hold our annual “Mini Cheer Camp” the first thought that invaded my mind was not “I do not belong on this team because of my size.” Of course, a fourth grader whose mind has been brainwashed into thinking that girls should look a certain way to be on a certain team, did have this thought. I had only been in the room for around fifteen seconds before, without any form of trying to hide it, a little girl asked out loud why I was even on the team. You might be able to predict, that was not the biggest confidence booster. I had to constantly remind myself throughout the rest of the afternoon that my size had nothing to do with how good I am at what I do, and I deserve to be on this team just as much as everybody else, even if I do not look the way most people probably think I should.
Normally, people are expected to fit in with a certain social standard. In a world where kids, teenagers and adults are ridiculed about their bodies and forced to conform to a certain body type, there is bound to be judgment upon those who don’t “fit in” with the social standards. Women especially are made to feel like they have a body image to live up to. When you include the deeply-ingrained societal demand of being a certain body type for female athletes, the judgment is even more extreme. This can easily be
In football, it is praised when a boy is big and buff. He is expected to be able to be one of the best. People look at it as a great thing if boys on a football team weigh over 250 pounds, it is welcomed even. So why is it that when females in their sports are overweight, it is looked at as a completely wrong and negative thing?
People in the world of athletics tend to be extremely prejudiced when it comes to women’s appearances: their size, weight, and what they look like. They do not seem to understand that a person’s size and weight has nothing to do with their athletic ability, and should not be a factor in whether or not they are good enough for an athletic team. For example, in a large amount of collegiate cheerleading teams, there is a body fat percentage limit, and sometimes even weight limit, that can affect someone’s chances for making the team. The University of Colorado has a weight limit for female cheerleaders stating that if they wish to be on the competitive cheer team, they must weigh no more than 120 pounds. At the University of Southern Mississippi, there is a body fat percentage limit of 14-22 percent for females and 8-15 percent for males.
Of course there is always the argument that being overweight is unhealthy and to be healthy you must be this size and this weight. The fact that there are people who are at an unhealthy weight, overweight and underweight, is definitely acknowledged but what happens when somebody is perfectly healthy and they are simply being judged on their size.
From a personal experience of being a plus sized cheerleader, my size and weight has yet to put a damper on my talent and success in cheerleading. Of course, people question my talent and ability due to my size, but that does not change the fact that I have a natural and growing talent in the area.
“Ugh, why is she on the team?”
Easy question, easy answer. Size is not a factor of who you are as an athlete, or as a person. Being a size that is not to society’s standards should not affect whether or not somebody is on a team, or make one question their placement on a team. If the skill factor and athleticism is there, who cares?