I am so impressed by the female athletes of today who are writing on girls' and women's issues. I have been a major fan of competitive runner and entrepreneur, Lauren Fleshman. She is an Oiselle Brand ambassador, co-founder of Picky Bars, and all around awesome mom and athlete.
She recently wrote a letter to her younger self; a "I wish I had known" article called Dear Younger Me. She narrows down on major young athlete issues like body image, comparing yourself to male teammates, nutrition, and adjusting as your body shifts from "girlhood" to "womanhood." Being especially passionate about these topics, I wanted to share some love for this blog to my LuchaFIT family... all of you!
"You'll see girls react to a changing body in three ways: give up, ride it out, or fight against it. With 100 percent confidence, I can tell you the best choice is to ride it out. The best is yet to come."
Lauren does such an amazing job describing the female athlete woes and (literal) growing pains. She talks about coaches and teammates who encourage taking paths towards resisting those natural changes. Extreme dieting and extreme working out that will temporarily seem like the natural progression toward woman-hood is halted. An extreme sport culture that only seems to "feed the desire of for short term success."
I have seen many athletes loose opportunities to continue a potentially amazing wrestling career due to coach, team, or family pressures towards wrestling a particular weight class. Unrealistic expectations that their young athlete will always be... young. That the only way to be successful, is to be the biggest one in the smallest weight class you can get to. That the value is on winning, no matter the expense to body, mind, spirit, or longevity.
"You notice what happens sometimes to female athletes. She hits puberty; her times get slower or plateau. She is confused; she is working harder than ever. Clueless adults who are overly invested in her "performance" will grieve, as if her worth is based solely on PRs. This makes you scared of growing up."
Lauren describes that after being a professional runner for 12 years, she can recognize a completely different set of values... miles away from a culture around recklessness for achievements. I love that even in a completely different sport, I can relate to the same sentiment. It takes experience and long years to find these values, but the time invested in always worth it.
We are fortunate to have athletes in the world who are giving back in the way Lauren does. She has revealed a darker side of female sports that is often ignored or not discussed. She certainly had to draw upon personal experiences in order to share to future generations of athletes.
Make sure you check out the full article linked above, and find her on her personal website and social media!