June 2nd, 1998

butterfly girl : where she goes when she

Little Girls in Pretty Boxes

'Little Girls in Pretty Boxes' by Joan Ryan.

That's the book that I just started reading. Actually, at the rate I'm going, I'll be finished it by tonight.

It's just a devastating book. It's about what goes on behind the scenes of the Olympic gymnasts and figure skaters. The same girls that we see gliding through the air on our tv screens each time we flick onto the Olympics, the world championships, anything.

I never realised exactly what so many of these girls went through. It's mental abuse. So many parents caught up in the surreal dream of their child winning gold at the Olympics, their child making world history.

Pushy stage mothers are usually seen in the context of beauty pageants. After the Jo-Benet Ramsey (I think that was her name) murder, there was a huge outcry of people against beauty pageants, or at least children in beauty pageants.

So what about the pushy stage parents of the skating ice princesses? The golden girls of gymnastics?

I don't why I decided to write about this. I guess I never realised how much pain was involved in the journey to make it to the top in these sports. Eating disorders are rife in gymnastics. The injuries are horrendous. But they keep pushing on.

Is Olympic gold worth all that pain?

I started gymnastics when I was 6. I hated most of it, except the beam. Mum let me quit.

What would have happened if she hadn't let me quit? If I was pushed into going all the way?

When I'm a mother, I'm not pushing my child into anything.

It's not worth it.