I started taking figure skating lessons when I was only in kindergarten. Like every other parent with a skater that age, my mom’s biggest concerns revolved around making sure that I wore a helmet in case I fell, that my rental skates were tied tight enough that I wouldn’t get blisters, and that my jacket was zipped up all the way to the top to keep me warm.

I received that same type of support from my mom throughout my skating career. But I was really lucky. Eventually, my friends’ moms seemed to stop worrying about those kinds of things, and started to focus instead on their daughters’ appearances, from their perfect hair buns to the gap between their thighs. By the time I was 10, the competition had started, both in terms of skill and who looked better in their skin-tight bedazzled dresses. Group lessons were replaced by private coaches, girls switched to homeschooling so they could dedicate more time to skating, and we were¬†constantly comparing ourselves to each other. At least that’s what my “friend” group was like.

When I was a tween, I switched …

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