Confessions of a Skater With an Eating Disorder

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 6, 2009 9:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – At the height of her figure skating career, former Four Continents Champion Jennifer Kirk had a secret. “Unfortunately, my secret wasn’t very unique,” she writes for True/Slant. “I had an eating disorder.” And so did many of her friends. “The skating world fostered the disease and made the completely horrible things I was doing to my body seem ‘normal.’”

Kirk tells of coaches publicly weighing skaters at regular intervals, noting the results and making “insensitive comments,” or of coaches telling waiters at restaurants that their girls were allergic to butter and oil. To escape that enabling culture, Kirk quit skating—the year before what would have been her first Olympics. But “ruining your health, even if it means achieving Olympic gold, is just not worth it."

Jennifer Kirk reacts as she leaves the ice after her free skate during the State Farm US Figure Skating Championships at the Rose Garden on January 15, 2005 in Portland, Oregon.
Jennifer Kirk reacts as she leaves the ice after her free skate during the State Farm US Figure Skating Championships at the Rose Garden on January 15, 2005 in Portland, Oregon.   (Getty Images)
Jennifer Kirk skates while competing in the women's free skate during the State Farm US Figure Skating Championships at the Rose Garden on January 15, 2005 in Portland, Oregon.
Jennifer Kirk skates while competing in the women's free skate during the State Farm US Figure Skating Championships at the Rose Garden on January 15, 2005 in Portland, Oregon.   (Getty Images)
Jennifer Kirk skates while competing in the women's short program during the State Farm US Figure Skating Championships at the Rose Garden on January 13, 2005 in Portland, Oregon.
Jennifer Kirk skates while competing in the women's short program during the State Farm US Figure Skating Championships at the Rose Garden on January 13, 2005 in Portland, Oregon.   (Getty Images)
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I remember us lining up like soldiers, stepping on the scale in front of him while another coach wrote down our weight in a small red notebook. - Jennifer Kirk

A skater once told me that they had almost missed the finale because they were busy throwing up their dessert in the bathroom. - Jennifer Kirk

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