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OpEd: Kaetlyn Osmond too sexy for skating? Go figure

Why does a teenage competitor get flak for a "flirty" performance when the sport gets away with its unwritten rules that demonize the female body?
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Gord Woodward, October 28, 2013 9:20:24 AM

In the spirit of Halloween, the Canadian media has once again pounced on young Kaetlyn Osmond to announce: “She’s b-a-a-c–k!”

Like spirits from Poltergeist, the 17-year-old figure skater occasionally haunts the pages of print media. It’s how commentators react to her that is truly frightening, though.

Earlier this year her photo caused a media uproar when it appeared in a Toronto newspaper, in an on-ice pose that would have strippers worried about immodesty. With one leg raised a la The Rockettes, Kaetlyn’s teenage crotch was front and centre, and the centre of controversy over the front-page picture.

Now she is back in the media spotlight, and again for her figure as much as for her skating. After her performance at a Skate Canada competition, Kaetlyn finds herself labelled “Canada’s Miley Cyrus” (and not in a “Oh, the nice girl who used to be Hannah Montana” kind of way. More like the “Uh oh, the evil tart who is taking a wrecking ball to civilization” kind of way).

Her “crime?” She skated and ice-danced to flirty songs like Big Spender and Rich Man’s Frug, from the 1960s stage musical Sweet Charity, which takes its name from the title character who is a hooker. (Hmm, when you put it that way, we do see the similarities to Miley, whose own hits are evidence of questionable taste in music, and whose attire would cause a prostitute to slap her own forehead and wonder, “why didn’t I think of that?”)

For all the ensuing media harrumphing about the “impropriety,” you’d think Kaetlyn flashed her ordinals, exposed her axel and twerked through a salchow. But nothing of the sort happened. Despite that, she is under fire for allegedly bringing sex to the rink. (This, remember, is a sport in which male skaters wear pants so tight you can tell their religion.)
Well, in true Miley Cyrus fashion, Kaetlyn should give her critics the foam finger. Pointed straight up.

If skating’s followers really want to keep the sport pure, they should scrape away the real demon that terrorizes those who deliver the grand spectacle of enforced anorexia grace and elegance on ice: its obsession with body shape and size.

The unwritten rule requiring competitors to maintain dangerously low weight is far more demonic towards women than a misplaced attempt by a teen to stand out from the pack.
Skating’s outfits come in only one size for females: LG (meaning Little Girl, not Large). So athletes soon learn that coaches and judges will penalize curves unless they’re in a figure eight. And to prevent their body parts from growing naturally into things that could go bump in the day or night, they feel the pressure to diet. That’s why, like a poltergeist, the rumours about tormented competitors enduring a lifetime of eating disorders just keep coming back.

Now that’s a scary story for the media to pursue. And the week of Halloween would be perfect timing. After all, the real fun at this time of year is figuring out what’s behind the masquerade, right?

Above: Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada competes in the ladies short program at Skate Canada International in Saint John, N.B. on Friday, Oct.25, 2013.
Image: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

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