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Body Image and Riding

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  • Body Image and Riding

    Ummmm, I've hesitated to post this, as I'm not quite sure how to make it sound encouraging and not like criticism. Just take my word for it, please, that this is not intended to put anyone down at all.

    I've never seen Cody Baird in person, but from her success she must be a tremendous young rider. Based on one photo of her in the Chronicle, and I may be wrong about this, it appeared that she maybe still has a bit of baby fat -- perfectly fine for a girl her age -- and she perhaps doesn't fit the "image" of big-time hunter and Eq riders that some trainers say is so important. I CERTAINLY do not want to turn this into an "is she fat?" discussion -- I would never want to do that to any person, especially a young girl at a critical stage in her development who doesn't need that kind of pressure. The point is, with all the problems young girls have with body image, anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders, I think it is wonderful that someone who isn't 5'9" and 110 lbs. can win consistently at the highest levels of hunter competition. I hope her success sends a signal to others that it is skill and talent that really matters, and not whether you wear a size 4.
    "I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?" Dave Barry
  • Original Poster

    #2
    Ummmm, I've hesitated to post this, as I'm not quite sure how to make it sound encouraging and not like criticism. Just take my word for it, please, that this is not intended to put anyone down at all.

    I've never seen Cody Baird in person, but from her success she must be a tremendous young rider. Based on one photo of her in the Chronicle, and I may be wrong about this, it appeared that she maybe still has a bit of baby fat -- perfectly fine for a girl her age -- and she perhaps doesn't fit the "image" of big-time hunter and Eq riders that some trainers say is so important. I CERTAINLY do not want to turn this into an "is she fat?" discussion -- I would never want to do that to any person, especially a young girl at a critical stage in her development who doesn't need that kind of pressure. The point is, with all the problems young girls have with body image, anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders, I think it is wonderful that someone who isn't 5'9" and 110 lbs. can win consistently at the highest levels of hunter competition. I hope her success sends a signal to others that it is skill and talent that really matters, and not whether you wear a size 4.
    "I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?" Dave Barry

    Comment


    • #3
      Amen Portia. To have a role model like this is truely wonderful. Eating disorders have become so prevelent(or were they always there and just never noticed). It is so important for people to realize that it is what you think, what you do and how you do it that is important, not how close you are to some idiots idea of perfection.
      If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
      Desmond Tutu

      Comment


      • #4
        When I knew Jennifer Berol Bliss ( back in the days when she had bonie and Mocha) She was not a tall slanky rider she actualy had some meet on her. But she has become a well known rider and in My book has acomplished many new worlds. Go Jennifer!
        \"I\'m going to go see a horse about a man\" - Unknown

        Comment


        • #5
          As a weight challenged rider ( who was the ideal weight her whole life until getting married...I must be VERY happy!)

          I am glad to see it also...I wonder how some of the younger girls get round...they look like they need a big meal or two...or three.

          I think we should take off some of the emphasis on weight. (and its not cuz Im a chubby girl either)I know a couple of riders I mean REAL atheletes who are my size...and it is a shame they would be penalized because of their weight.

          Comment


          • #6
            I agree that it's great to have role models of all shapes and sizes. I was very thin as a junior rider, but didn't realize how unhealthy I must have looked until I came home from college for the first time and the barn manager told me I had lost my "gaunt look." Riding was what kept me so thin though- it certainly wasn't my diet because I ate chocolate cake for breakfast all the time!

            Comment


            • #7
              Portia,
              And, it not just weight it's someone God gave short legs. And, those with the long torso that make them look perched. We had a little girl here with extra short arms. She couldn't get a bend in that little arm.

              What I think is good is to face the reality. That's what we're all about. Our horses are not perfect either. If they were we couldn't afford them. What matters is that you learn to ride.

              Those who are the beautiful passengers are like the cover girls that no one can identify with because the rest of us are just not that perfect.

              Joy is in the skill, and pleasure is in the dream, what keeps us all going is the HOPE that there will be that perfect day when everything comes together. When you have that day it doesn't matter what the judge thinks, or even if anyone else is there.
              http://www.usAHSA.org and http://www.noreinstatement.org

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks Portia, for a long overdue acknowledgement that great riders aren't measured by the size in their Tailored Sportsman's! I struggled for years with poor body image dating back to my junior years... in our barn, the thinner the better, and our trainer had no problem letting you know when you gained a few pounds.

                This body image still plagues me, but I am starting to accept that while I am not "overweight", I do not have a small body frame. And, I can use this to my advantage- strength, leverage and balance. I've noticed less emphasis on riders' (especially Eq.) weight over the years, and thank god, as it's very destructive. But just a note- on the other spectrum, as riders we owe it to ourselves and our horses to remember we are athletes, so no matter your "size", it's important to stay fit, eat right, etc.

                And, a little insight about "SIZE"... it's all relative. I work in fashion and it's crazy what designers will do to manipulate the sizes basically so a real size 10 woman can wear a 6 in their clothes... bottom line is that she'll keep buying that designer's clothes to wear the 6!

                Comment


                • #9
                  I'm not too fat, I'm too short....

                  This body image thing is something I've struggled with for years, denying that it bothers me..... Actually it's one of the reasons I've tended toward jumpers for years, rather than eq. But, s**** all of them, anyway. I'm now old enough to want to have fun, and to measure myself against myself. Off to the eq ring!

                  BUT, in one of my photos over fences that I bought, I found myself carefully shaving a few pounds off the thighs and hips with a magic marker.....

                  It's scary, seeing some of the people with eating disorders. Where do they get the energy to ride? No muscle mass.... The body needs some fat. You DIE BEFORE you get to no body fat.

                  (I still want to create a movement to return to those canary yellow breeches with the flaps, and the jackets that covered the butt. Anyone want to join?)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    At 5' even, a few extra pounds makes me look roly poly. So I run. I've noticed that 30 min of jogging 3x a week makes a big difference in the way I look. Even though my weight does not really change, I look thinner and tighter through the waist and thighs.
                    Man plans. God laughs.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I hope that some of the junior riders see these wonderful post and take notice! It is what you do with what you've got that makes you great. If our sense of self worth comes from our appearance, it's a sure bet you're going to lose those looks (plastic surgery can only tuck so much) will you lose your sense of self worth, too? As a junior high teacher, I see smart, capable girls, some boys too, who constantly put themselves down and second guess themselves because they aren't tall and thin and beautiful and handsome and muscular and etc. What a shame to waste so much energy on what we don't look like instead of loving what we CAN DO!!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well I just have to respond to this topic!

                        I have been riding for almost 15 yrs. and I have always been a little overweight (but I am a healthy weight for my height) - it was hard for me in the beginning, but then I came to a revalation. It really doesn't matter what size you are, it is how well you get the job done.

                        I used to do the junior eq and I remember getting penalized, and I would wonder why - because I would have just as good/or even better rounds then the people who won the classes. I now compete in the A/O, and pre-green divisions up here in Canada, and I have not found that there has been any discrimination against me - I even have people asking me to ride their horses (which is the biggest honour!). I am a fit, strong, and skilled rider and I think that is what really matters when it comes to riding!

                        It is really sad [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img] to see these girls in the junior/childrens/even the pony divisions so worried about their weight and what they look like - you do not have to be a skinny minnie to be successful in this sport! I wish that this mentality would disappear, so that our riders can develop and be focused on their riding goals - and not whether or not they are a size 6 (or even smaller)!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I agree, I remember being at my old barn about two years ago, and the trainer telling my friend that she could go far in the hunter world because she had the right "look". She was tall and super skinny. I remember thinking disgustedly that such a good and well respected trainer would not just think this, but say it in front of many people. It is ridiculous that young girls think they have to conform to such images, I should know being a teenager! Riding is a sport, we need to treat it like a sport, not like a fashion/model runway. We need to give EVERYONE a fair chance, after all, we are being judged on skill (of course a nice horse helps...), not on looks.
                          ~antonia~
                          ~*~antonia~*~

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by A/O Hunter Rider:
                            It is really sad [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif[/img] to see these girls in the junior/childrens/even the pony divisions so worried about their weight and what they look like - you do not have to be a skinny minnie to be successful in this sport! I wish that this mentality would disappear, so that our riders can develop and be focused on their riding goals - and not whether or not they are a size 6 (or even smaller)!
                            <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

                            I'm glad to say that I think body image is not as big of a deal in riding as it used to be. I'm 5'3" and a size 3 (i'm also 13), but I tend to be overzealous in my eating habits sometimes. <g> But I'm glad to say that i DON'T worry about my weight in the riding ring - i've seen such a variety of weights at both the 'C' and 'AA' levels, and as long as the rider can ride well (i've seen ALL weights ride wonderfully and beautifully), than who really gives? i for one, don't. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] For those of you who are naturally skinny, awesome! for those of you who aren't, awesome as well. I think everyone should be happy w/ their weight and since there is a HUGE vareity in weights in the hunter ring these days, this just helps to promote this message. i love it. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]
                            -Jackie-
                            "would you give nothing to be sitting on top of the world with your legs hanging free?" -dmb-

                            http://community.webshots.com/user/luckyjax04

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Well it's lunch time, and I'm thinking about food (not that I'm ever NOT thinking about FOOD!). I'll be GOOD and eat a healthy little lunch. I'll also think BAD thoughts about Cadbury's Milk Chocolate Mini Easter Eggs. Then I'll think about what kind of exercise I need to do to work it off! Ever since I started focusing on being healthy and fit, I've been pretty comfortable with my body image, which was not always the case!
                              It's not important how much you weigh or if can you fit into a size "whatever"! How do you FEEL? Are you energetic or are you tired? Are you in shape to do what you want to do, or do you huff & puff?
                              Diets really don't work, but a commitment to taking good care of yourself with a some sort of program you can stick with for the rest of you life does work. If you treat your body right, it will treat you right, and then you can feel good about it. Don't get me wrong, I'm always struggling with those last 5 to 10 lb.! But focusing on feeling good and being healthy, rather than the pounds or fitting into a particular pair of pants, has worked for me. Also, it's hard to be good to yourself, if you don't like yourself, and have self esteem problems. On the other hand, if you're not good to yourself, you may never like yourself. It can be a vicious cycle! So you gotta start somewhere! Stop focusing on the scales and the mirror! If you ride, you are and athelete! Take yourself seriously, and treat yourself like one! Before you start screaming, "Shut up, already, with the 'Rah, Rah' Scoutie!", here are some pretty cool inetactive educational web sites on health, diet and exercise that some of you might want to explore, and many of these discuss body image, too:

                              www. gymamerica.com
                              www.cyberdiet.com
                              www.efit.com
                              www.allhealth.com
                              www.diettalk.com
                              www.ediets.com


                              [This message has been edited by Scoutie (edited 03-14-2000).]

                              [This message has been edited by Scoutie (edited 03-14-2000).]

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I think a lot of people are too focused on numbers, as in "how many lbs. they weigh." One thing I learned in a long rehab program for my knee (the therapists were great, they decided since I had to be there every day they might as well do my whole body too!) is that muscle weighs more than fat. The body fat index is a much better way to see how fit you are than just weighing yourself on a scale. And though it can seem disheartening when you realize that an hour's worth of spinning only burns about one good chocolate eclair that's not the whole story. You're building muscle so you're metabolism is going up and you're burning more of the calories all the time...

                                Overall fitness is the most important thing. In the h/j world the look to strive for has been the tall, slender, long legged rider. This has been perpetuated by many of our top trainers. It should be replaced by an emphasis on overall fitness and effectiveness because no matter how fit you are you can't grow your legs any longer or change from a med. body build to a beanpole hummingbird (and stay healthy). And this comes from someone who was blessed w/ long legs and relatively [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]slender body build. Kit Kat anyone [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]?

                                In the late 70s when I was a junior I witnessed first hand more than one case of anorexia and the worst part was that the parents seemed to be in utter denial. Don't know how they managed to stay on their horses.

                                I think Cody Baird looks just great to me and I hope she doesn't read this thread and get the wrong idea.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Heelsdown -- that's why I hesitated to post the thread at all, as I too would hate her or anyone else to get the wrong idea. I think it is an important topic, and I was trying to make the point that it is good to see talented people with different body types winning and her sucesses seemed a good example. However, I didn't want to suggest that this obviously talented, effective, and fit young rider was in any way unattractive.

                                  Body image is such a delicate issue. I remember the fuss after the Oscars a couple of years ago over Kate Winslett, when she wore that lovely antique looking gown and some people were saying she looked fat. What? She looked gorgeous. No, she wasn't Hollywood super-skinny; instead, she was equally (or more) beautiful in a somewhat different type. Different body types can be and are equally fit, effective, and attractive, and I hoped this would be an example of that to those who think they aren't good enough because they don't fit someone else's professed idea of the ideal.

                                  [This message has been edited by Portia (edited 03-14-2000).]
                                  "I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?" Dave Barry

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I'm no skinny minney to say the least. I'm 5' and like 113 pounds. some of it is muscle some of it is baby fat. but I could care less what other people think of me, as long as I feel good about myself. I run about 1 mile every night and I can do it without like dieing which means I am in shape, right? Well I gtg...see ya!!


                                    Ryan

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      It is terribly ironic that the "role models" our young women have starve themselves to the point of looking like a WWII photo from a concentration camp, and then get breast implants to give themselves feminine curves!

                                      My overall view from frequenting the WEF showgrounds was a positive one. Most of the riders looked healthily fit, seemed like the really young riders (pre-junior) were more on the too-skinny side, but we don't really have any junior riders (so I'm not tapped into their world) at our barn and this was just a very basic overview/gut reaction (excuse the pun.) I vividly remember George Morris's PH columns in the 70s and early 80s when he would frequently make comments about a rider's conformation and weight. I'm glad he doesn't do that anymore.

                                      Cody if you're reading this:

                                      You're a superb rider blessed with equally superb horses and parents with the means and wherewithal to help you with your goals and dreams. I am eager with anticipation to watch your promising future enfold. I am certain you're getting plenty of excercise, stay fit and don't change a thing (except wear an approved helmet, a lot of people are looking up to you now, set a good example and protect that noggin [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]) You look MAHVELOUS DAHLING and more importantly you ride even better.

                                      [This message has been edited by heelsdown (edited 03-14-2000).]

                                      [This message has been edited by heelsdown (edited 03-14-2000).]

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I just looked at the East West pix and thought Cody looked perfectly normal and average weight. She did not look heavy at all. And her body did not seem to hamper her performance or affect the judges in a negative way whatsoever. I guess there are so many female riders who resemble LC that normal weight people look heavy.
                                        Man plans. God laughs.

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