Canadian wrestlers Erica Weibe and Jasmine Milan talk about the body image struggles they face, even as Olympic athletes

August 19, 2016 12:00 PM

As we’ve learned from Olympians across sports – from shot putter Michelle Carter to gymnast Alexa Moreno – being an athlete doesn’t spare you from body criticism.

Now two Canadian wrestlers are speaking out about their struggles to feel confident in their bodies in a sport that categorizes athletes by weight.

“Everyone has insecurities, even Olympic athletes,” Jasmine Mian . “I think because we’re in a weight-class sport, we’re so in tune with our bodies. So if I gain a couple pounds I find myself feeling like, ‘I don’t think I look as good today, or I don’t feel quite as right.’ That’s something I’ve had to overcome growing up in the sport of wrestling: I’m not the number that’s on the scale.”

Erica Wiebe, who won gold Thursday in her 75 kg weight class, says she grew up self-conscious about her larger size.

Erica Wiebe

“I’ve always been the biggest person in wrestling, so it’s either, I cry in my room every night, or I’m just like, ‘Screw you girls – more to love!’ So I just have adopted that mindset, because what’s the other option? To feel bad about yourself? That kind of sucks,” Wiebe, 27, says.

“You’ve got to fake it ’til you make it, cause I don’t think I have a perfect body, but at least I just like, pretend I do in my mind and that makes it easier.”

Mian, 26, adds that – as other Olympians have expressed – expectations of what a perfect athletic body is supposed to look like are unrealistic.

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“I don’t think there’s such a thing as a perfect or ideal body,” Mian says. “I do think there’s such a thing as an ideal mindset, though. And I think that you have to learn to love who you are, and if you actually pause to reflect on that and look at your body and think, ‘Wow, I’ve created this through years of hard work,’ and focus on what you are and not what you’re not, that’s kind of how you have to combat those insecurities.”

Wiebe focuses instead on her strength.

“I think being powerful is really cool and sexy,” she says. “You gotta have some swagger.”

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