You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Top Stories

Olympic Figure Skater Adam Rippon Reveals His Experience With Disordered Eating

Self logo Self 2/13/2018 Sarah Jacoby
a person standing in front of water © Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Adam Rippon, the 28-year-old Team USA figure skater, already exceeded the high expectations viewers had for him at the Winter Olympics this year. But, as he revealed in an interview with the New York Times this week, being a skater at this elite level often comes with immense pressure to perform and look a specific way. And that pressure drove him to a dangerous starvation diet in 2016.

“It makes me dizzy now to think about it,” Rippon told the Times of his previously restrictive meals. He explained that comparing his muscular 5-foot-7 frame to that of his smaller teammates made him feel like he needed to change his body. "I looked around and saw my competitors," Rippon explained. "They’re all doing these quads, and at the same time they’re a head shorter than me, they’re 10 years younger than me, and they’re the size of one of my legs."

At that point in his career, Rippon was just about to win the 2016 U.S. National Championships. But, after breaking his foot and having to sit out the next year's event, Rippon was forced to rethink his diet—and his relationship to his body.

“I think I had a stress fracture before I broke my foot.... and I think that was absolutely because I was not getting enough nutrients," he explained. “I didn’t realize I was so tired all the time.” He began working with a registered sports dietitian who helped him repair his relationship with food, learn how to fuel his body effectively, and play to the physical strengths he already has.

Body image issues aren't new to figure skating, but the conversation has historically centered on women.

The pressure to have a specific look is a familiar one for most people in high-stakes performance situations such as this. But that pressure can quickly transform into a dangerous standard that competitors feel like they have to uphold at all costs.

Just last September, Gracie Gold revealed that she would be taking time off from competitive skating to focus on her mental health, citing depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder. She also previously spoke to USA Today about her relationship with her body after the 2016 Skate America event, saying that she would need to "adjust" her shape to improve her performance. "You just don’t see overweight figure skaters for a reason," she said. "It’s just something I’ve struggled with this whole year and in previous seasons."

But it's not just women who feel these pressures—eating disorders do not discriminate. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), there isn't much research on the exact number of men affected by eating disorders. Although we know that men make up a significant chunk of people dealing with these issues, the disorders appear to affect them less frequently than women.

One problem with those estimates, though, is that because eating disorders are often portrayed as only affecting women, men may be less likely to seek help for their symptoms. "Several factors lead to males being under- and undiagnosed for [eating disorders]," the NEDA website explains. In addition to facing a stigma for having a disorder that's often characterized as "feminine," they may also face stigma for seeking psychological help. "Additionally, assessment tests with language geared to females have led to misconceptions about the nature of male [eating disorders]," NEDA continues.

That's why it's encouraging to see those who feel comfortable sharing their stories actually doing so. Rippon told the Times that he chose to be honest and open about his struggles with body image and food specifically because he wanted to help others.

If you or someone you know is at risk or experiencing an eating disorder, resources are available through NEDA or contact their phone helpline at 800-931-2237 or their text crisis line by texting "NEDA" to 741741.

Slideshow: 20 questions you're too afraid to ask your doctor (but should) (Courtesy: Mom.me) 


AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Self

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon