U.S. gymnast Shawn Johnson hopes to make a comeback after her gold and silver wins back in 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, but the 20-year-old woman has an entirely different attitude about the equipment she uses to compete.
Namely, her body.
Johnson gained around 25 pounds during her three-year break after Beijing. It’s no surprise. She went from being a medal-winning Olympic gymnast to a regular teenager.
Yet, the media – which was used to seeing her with next-to-no body fat – went wild.
At the Olympic Media Summit last month, Johnson responded to the reaction:
At my heaviest all the tabloids said some pretty hurtful things. That whole process kind of broke me down and taught me something. People put too much emphasis on looks.
Johnson has since lost the weight, but she gained some valuable insight:
We’re taught at such a young age that you can always be better and that you’re never perfect and that you’re never good enough. You find your worth in someone else and what they say just from having looked at you. It’s hard. I was at the Olympic Games winning medals and I still doubted my image. I doubted what I looked like. That’s sad. Girls should be taught different than that. I think everyone should be taught different than that.
Girls should be taught different than that. I think everyone should be taught different than that.
You don’t have to grow up a gymnast to experience the same kind of pressure, doubt, and roller-coaster self-worth issues to which Johnson refers.
Do your childhood and teenage years sound like what Johnson describes? How could you have been taught differently? Or, if you’re a parent, older sibling, or mentor, how are YOU teaching youngsters differently?
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Last reviewed: 1 Jun 2012