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10 thoughts on “Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters

  1. says:

    An eye opening account of the rigorous and often abusive training methods that elite gymnasts and ice skaters endure in hopes of claiming an elusive Olympic medal This book detailed the unavoidable eating disorders, injuries, and overbearing parents that skaters and gymnasts face There were anecdotes about the rise and fall of famous athletes such as Shannon Miller, Kim Zmeskal, and Betty Okino This book did exactly what it set out to do Expose what the world of elite gymnastics and ice skating is really like, behind all the glitz and glam It was a little slow in some parts, but overall I think it did an excellent job of providing the reader with an inside look into this secret society.The book focused a lot on the militaristic coaching technique that Bela Karolyi implemented To me, it seemed flat out abusive The long term effects of intensive training can have devastating outcomes on a gymnast or ice skater, both mentally and physically.Here are some pictures of the gymnasts Shannon MillerBetty OkinoKim ZmeskalDominique MoceanuChelle StackAnd finally, in memory of Julissa Gomez She left the world far too soon. November 4, 1972 August 8, 1991

  2. says:

    Twenty years before most of us heard the name Larry Nassar, the Gymnastics who molested over 150 gymnasts and other athletes, journalist Joan Ryan wrote LITTLE GIRLS IN PRETTY BOXES about the often dark secrets behind competitive gymnastics and figure skating I still gave my copy from 1995 which I read cover to cover the day it was released.I ve been a Gymnastics and figure skating super fan since watching Olga Korbut, then Nadia Comaneci I wrote a fan letter to Tai and Randy and thought life couldn t get any better when Randy responded LITTLE GIRLS IN PRETTY BOXES both crushed my fantasy of perfect girls effortlessly twisting their bodies in unimaginable ways by showing the abusive coaches, the eating disorders, crushed self esteem, intimidation and lack of regard these girls and young women endured Some didn t survive their sports.Ryan interviewed athletes, family, trainers , used news reports and footage show the tears behind the smiles and presented the stories in a compulsive readable chapters that had me wanting an update.With the news of Larry Nassar s crimes and USA Gymnastics complicity, Joan Ryan or somebody else needs to write the next chapter in the failure of USAG and the USOC to protect its athletes from predators Sadly, Bela Karoli s emotional abuse of young gymnasts is clearly documented and well known internationally Officials led the public to believe when Marta took over as USAG team coach, the sport had turned away from its abusive past to a gentler, humane way of training athletes children trying to pursue their dreams of Olympic glory tumbling toward the gold.

  3. says:

    about gymnasts than figure skaters, i read the version that included the 2000 epilogue which is great, because the first version was written in 1995, before the americans won gold in atlanta i d still like to read a recent book on gymnastics ice skating, but wonder if the fact that the country has had success in the olympic arena has pushed down the urge to write about it.there s a lot of heart break in this book girls who died as a result of bad vaults, or extreme eating disorders competing broken and battered at the age of 15 thinking your life is over at 17 in a way, i never thought of after, that they do retard their body growth so much that they never turn into physical adults and when your career is over at 18, 22, and you have bone problems and hurt all over, what do you do when you are done with gymnastics, or gymnastics is done with you what options do you have i mean, we know shannon miller won heaps of medals, but what is her life like now anyway, this is a really good, incisive, non apologetic look at the sports and the risks and things that we don t want to hear about i think the most shocking chapters were about the parents, who either made the problem worse or refused to see anything who still can t give up the dream, and the coaches i will never look at bela karolyi the same way i think that s good, but it makes me a little sad that he isn t the big bear hugging personality he seems to be but it makes me sad to think how many little girls are sent to his gym because their parents see him that way too, and then their girls are torn apart.

  4. says:

    Little Girls In Pretty Boxes, Joan Ryan s expos on women s gymnastics and figure skating, is a brutal read It starts with an account of a teenage girl who broke her neck while performing on the vault, and it doesn t get any cheerier.The book is well written enough to be engaging, but it s so excessively negative in tone that it inevitably caused my hackles to rise I suppose any expos is likely to be biased, but Ryan seems so biased against gymnastics skating that I inevitably found myself playing devil s advocate, despite having no stake in either sport.Ryan leaves no room for the reader to make up her own mind as to whether the gruelling training and risks involved in the sports are worthwhile Her answer is NO NO NO, NO WAY It turns what could have been a thoughtful piece of journalism into a depressing polemic.

  5. says:

    as a former gymnast although nowhere near elite , this book petrified me it s hard to believe what young girls and their parents are willing to sacrifice to be the best i m going to find it really hard to indulge my guilty pleasure of watching gymnastic and ice skating competitions on tv after this enlightening read.

  6. says:

    Who knew gymnastics was so horrifying Joan Ryan s Little Girls in Pretty Boxes is a chilling, sobering look at the world of women s gymnastics, where the coaches yell and taunt at young gymnasts while their parents overlook or exaggerate the abuse, creating a culture of destroyed confidence, eating disorders an It s an unflattering portrait.Ryan tells of the sad fates of several promising girls who were sucked into this world by their talent, chewed up and used by ego driven coaches and, once they proved too weak or useless for coaches, disgarded like scraps, often the worse for wear.It s names like Julissa Gomez and Christy Henrich who resonate throughout the book All young gymnast prodigies, all three were quickly brought down by it s envrioment Gomez broke her neck in a risky routine and was dead by 19, Henrich developed an eating disorder likely brought on by over zealous coaches and starved herself to death Ryan brings their and many other grim stories into deadly sharp focus, squarely planting the blame at coaches.It s these coaches, she writes, that have created and fostered an environment that s extraordinarily detrimental to these young athletes The average age, weight and size of gymnasts has plummeted Ryan says it s gone from Womens gymnastics to girls.Ryan saves the worst for coaches like Bela Karolyi or Rick Newman who have pushed cruel, Eastern Bloc influenced coaching methods to the forefront to create winners Their gyms often feature long, harsh training sessions and verbal abuse from coaches push these young athletes past their mental and physical limits insults about the weight of these girls is not uncommon Ryan writes of many cases of girls breaking down, both mentally and physically stress fractures and broken wrists seem almost scarily common in these gyms.This isn t to place the blame squarely on coaches, however Ryan also writes of parents blinded by the dream of an Olympian daughter who look past whatever problems their kids have and often convince their children to keep competing They refinace their houses, they take second jobs and move across the country to go to these gyms where maybe a coach will mould their daughter into a winner Ryan summarizes their ambition by asking what do their parents value their daughter being healthy or winning But it s winning that often blinds everybody, the coaches, the parents and especially the athletes themselves who do everything to win, regardless of the risk Ryan s book is a sobering, chilling look at what these drive to win at any cost has done to these young athletes It should be required reading for any parent looking to put their kid in figure skating, gymnastics or the like.

  7. says:

    Not nearly as tawdry as promised In the prologue it was all sexual abuse and this and that all over the place, but the book was mostly eating disorders and injuries Eating disorders, eh, the ways losing 10 pounds in a week affect your gymnastics skills, no surprise there Maybe it was shocking in 1995 when this book was published.The effects of hardcore training on little bitty bodies, that was pretty horrifying, and how nearly all coaches everywhere were all WORK THROUGH PAIN INJURY OR GO TO BABIES GYM, FATTY LAZY SPIDER PIG DOG, rough times Still, I think it s the parents fault here and they do not get enough blame in the book How any parent could this kind of invective screamed at his her itsy bitsy daughter it s always girls HA HA abused little lambs and continue to pay the screamer 1k per month in mid 90s dollars to continue to scream at said daughter it is time to call CPS and give the girl to a relative because you clearly do not have her best interests at heart And the coaches Clearly inhuman.She touches on figure skating a little, but not much mostly she makes fun of Nancy Kerrigan for being nearly as white trash as Tonya Harding, but because she was the bashed instead of the basher, and because she chose to play the game instead of fight it, she became a golden girl and got married at Disney on Ice dressed as Snow White and nobody remembers her family is all blue collar beer drinking pretzel eating football fans, because figure skaters are born of pixie dust, angels tears, and the teeny slivers of ice sheered off the rink when another skater lands a perfect jump.Anyway, I wasn t looking forward to reading about child abuse, I just felt that the prologue was misleading, and the bits about figure skating ought to have been saved for another book, so that she could have gone further into gymnastics It was too short STILL well written, obviously well researched, she got amazing quotes from almost every single person she mentions, and although the foreshadowing tends toward heavy handedness, she weaves a bunch of stories into a hideous tapestry of abuse abuse abuse Mamas, don t let your babies grow up to be gymnasts Unless they start later, around age six, and promise not to compete higher than college level.

  8. says:

    Joan Ryan wrote a book, largely anecdotal, but with the findings of a few studies to back her up, about the harm done to girls, not those who simply learn gymnastics or figure skating, but those who are in the elite class of either sport This is an important distinction, as Ryan writes that girls who take gymnastics or figure skate learn a lot about competitiveness, self esteem, and discipline, but for those few who fall into the elite category the ones who practice for three hours starting at 5 a.m., go to school, then practice again from 3 p.m until 9, the ones who are striving only for the Olympics because nothing less will suffice, the ones whose parents spend tens of thousands of dollars on coaches, or uproot their families so they can practice under a specific coach for these girls, Ryan argues, harm than good is done If this book is at all interesting, it is because it is like driving by a terrible auto accident you can not help but look out of some sick fascination, especially for those parents who are the ultimate stage parents, wanting their children to succeed to make up for their own pathetic mediocrity Not all parents, of course, of elites are like that but the majority are, and you don t need a full length book to tell you that people aren t the greatest parents if they allow their ten year olds to work that hard, to practice even against medical advice, as so many do, to be humiliated and belittled by demanding coaches This would have been a great full length article making it into a full length book was unnecessary And, one minor point, I really liked everything the author had to say about the values of our country, how beauty often trumps skill, how youth is often valued than experience, etc., and how she believes, of course, that our priorities are completely wrong because of this But for whatever reason, I happened to notice the author s age, 59, when the book was published, and even allowing for it being written a few years before that, maybe when she was, say, 55 or 56, why is there a picture on the back flap of a woman no older than 35 Could it be that those screwy priorities are HER priorities, or her publisher s Interestingbut still, not interesting enough to recommend it.

  9. says:

    Joan Ryan is a journalist who knows her stuff, and knows how to write This is another book that focuses on the dark side of elite gymnastics and also figure skating Ryan does a fantastic job of supporting her conclusions with statistics from university studies, interviews with experts, coaches and team mates and especially the dramatic, heart breaking stories of the girls and their family Those who didn t make it, whether from injury, eating disorders, abusive coaches or all of the about and This book was written a year before the 1996 Summer Olympics in which the so called Magnificent Seven won the gymnastics team gold I can only wonder what Ryan thought about that, and wish she d write another book about the recent stars.

  10. says:

    I really liked it in a sickening, this shattered all I ever thought about ice skating and gymnastics kind of way Great behind the scenes look at these two sports A must read for anyone whose children are thinking of taking their competition to the next level P.S Kim Nahoom don t ever send your daughter to Bela Martha Karolyi or Steve Nunno

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download Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters, read online Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters, kindle ebook Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters, Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters 64a2db47a3f6 From Starvation Diets And Debilitating Injuries To The Brutal Tactics Of Tyrannical Gymnastics Guru Bela Karolyi, Little Girls In Pretty Boxes Portrays The Horrors Endured By Girls At The Hands Of Their Coaches And Sometimes Their Own Families An Acclaimed Expose That Has Already Helped Reform Olympic Sports Now Updated To Reflect The Latest Developments In Women S Gymnastics And Figure Skating It Continues To Plead For Sanity, Safety, And An End To Our National Obsession Winning At Any Cost