'Tyranny of the Scales' Eliminated From British Gymnastics

British Gymnastics unveils new policies designed to put children's welfare first
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 29, 2023 10:20 AM CST
Coaches Can't Make British Gymnasts Step on a Scale
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Petr_Joura)

British gymnastics coaches can instruct their gymnasts to do many things. Step on a scale isn't one of them anymore. The BBC reports that new British Gymnastics rules prohibit "harmful" weight-management practices that it described as "on the fringes of abuse." Going forward, no child 10 or under can be weighed at all; those between the ages of 11 and 18 can only be weighed with their consent and that of their parent or guardian, and only if the weighing is being done based on a "scientifically valid rationale"—the BBC gives the example of needing to monitor whether a growth spurt is occurring.

The Guardian reports the new policy follows the 2022 independent Whyte Review, which faulted British Gymnastics for creating an environment in which young gymnasts were starved, body-shamed, and otherwise abused in a quest for medals. The review—called "damning" by Reuters—cited the "tyranny of the scales" and the eating disorders that resulted and shared stories of children being sat on and having food and water withheld by coaches as punishment, per the Guardian. Under British Gymnastics' new hydration policy, preventing a gymnast from drinking water or going to the toilet while in training will now be considered "physical abuse." Gyms that don't follow the new rules will face sanctions. (More gymnastics stories.)

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