Women’s Only: Does CrossFit Help or Hurt a Woman’s Body Image?

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by NOELLE ELLIOTT

“I Knew That Thin Was Ideal”

Women's Only: Does CrossFit Help or Hurt a Woman's Body Image?
When I started CrossFit I was damaged, although I didn’t realize to what extent. As a young girl, the first person who taught me how to feel about my body was my mom. I watched her as she got ready. How she cursed her belly. Even when she didn’t speak, her inner dialogue about her body was plastered on her expression.

What [watching my mom] taught me as a little girl was that my body would never be good enough, despite my efforts.
My mom was a dancer. The amount of physical strain she put her body through on a daily basis makes a typical WOD look like a warm up. By the time I was born she had retired her dancing career. Yet she continued to abuse her body — only now it was psychological.

I watched as she glared in the mirror. How she starved herself, over exercised and ultimately hated the way she looked. It was no surprise that my older sister had an eating disorder so severe it required hospitalization. What it taught me as a little girl was that my body would never be good enough, despite my efforts. When I was nine I went on my first diet.

My mom never intentionally put pressure on me. She never told me I was heavy or thin. But I knew that thin was ideal, and I wasn’t it.

I have muscle. It was what made me excel in soccer, tennis and track. But no matter how many games, matches, and meets I won, I felt that my body had turned against me.

Television didn’t help my image of women, either. The popular actresses were thin. In college I started a pattern just as my mom had: I did cardio for hours upon hours and was never satisfied with my results. I was destined to hate my body no matter what it looked like.

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