Photo by Jasmin Lykke
The room is filled with people, everyone’s eyes are on self-conscious Brooke. She glances around at her diverse team, comparing herself to her teammates. She imagines the spectators’ judgments about her looks, wondering if her body is acceptable in her sport compared to her teammates’.
Some sports demand a certain body type and specific measurements, like wrestling, which have specific weight classes. Senior Julian Holguin noticed that some of his teammates struggled with maintaining their weight, although he himself found a way out of that.
“[For me] it was easy to maintain my weight because I was wrestling up [wrestling in a higher weight class] for most of the time,” he said.
However, another wrestler reveals that this can make it more challenging.
“The bigger you go, the more muscular and experienced they are,” junior Blaine Pierce said. “I noticed my freshman year of wrestling at 195 lbs. that the big guys were the more experienced ones.”
Different sports have various body standards, and there are stereotypes in many sports.
“I’m a cheerleader, and obviously I’m not the smallest person in the world,” sophomore Journee Tevis said. “There’s a certain body type for a cheerleader, which is a smaller person and I’m not that stereotype.”
Other students also feel they don’t fit into the stereotypes set for their sports.
“People look very differently at me because I’m 4’8,” sophomore Payton Bryant said. “A lot of people expect cheerleaders to be tall, blonde and pretty, that’s just the stereotypical cheerleader.”
Pierce has a more positive view on the stereotypes of body styles.
“I definitely feel that everyone has a different body style that fits their sport even if there are multiple different styles in a sport,” he said. “As a small guy for a receiver or a big guy for a lineman, I think everyone plays a role in a sport.”
He also saw the weight classes in wrestling as a benefit, instead of a struggle.
“I kind of like it in wrestling because it keeps everyone in the same skill level, so you don’t wrestle somebody that won’t stand a chance, it just keeps everything in perspective,” Pierce said.
Bryant shared an experience that made her view on the problem clear.
“One of my best friends tried out for the team and she didn’t make it, but people assumed it was because of her race, which I honestly don’t believe,” she said.
Bryant believes that many people just imagine judgments that may never have been there. She claims that all self-doubt and stereotypes come from the pure insecurity of not looking like everyone else. Stereotypes may always be a part of today’s society, but they don’t need to be a part of one’s life choices.
“Even if you think you wouldn’t look like a cheerleader, wrestler or anyone, still try out, it doesn’t matter what you look like, it just matters if you try and would like to do it,” she said.
This story was originally published on The Register on March 21, 2019.