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Michigan State Runner Raises Awareness of Body Image in Sports (By Traci Nigg)

As a high school cross country coach I am training my athletes to not only be runners, but to be good students, teammates, and friends. But it seems we are creating these expectations during a time when they are also getting to know themselves. They are developing an identity and questioning their personal morals and values to try and formulate their own opinions of the world and how they fit into it. High school comes with its own set of challenges such as managing rigorous schedules, seeking acceptance and friendships from peers, keeping grades up, and in this day and age, accomplishing this without being negatively influenced by social media. Social media can also be a place to find encouragement and support for your goals and also for your struggles. Without Rachele Schulist’s Instagram post, many of us wouldn’t have had the privilege to know her story. I am thankful for her courage and bravery to share such a private experience with the hope of inspiring others to own their stories and seek support.

The following interview speaks volumes on its own. While reading it, I encourage the reader to identify the various supporters who positively impacted her healing process. Notice the responses from her dad, her coaches, her roommate, and her teammates. I wonder how her story would be different had they of not responded the way they did. Then ultimately the responses from the media in her area and the Instagram followers which have allowed her to gain even more momentum in sharing her story and being a role model for other athletes who may experience challenges with body image.

Sport social workers can be another part of her support team or any other athlete’s team fighting this same battle. When coaches hear this story they can refer their athlete to the social worker for follow up and create a network of care and potential intervention. Social workers specialize in body image and can provide strategies to address self-esteem, self-worth, and foster self-love and acceptance.

I would like to give a big shout out and thank you to Rachele Schulist for her post and being a positive role model for runners everywhere!

For further reading, see the link below.

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