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Jordan Chiles reveals verbally abusive former coach FAT-SHAMED her – and says she almost QUIT

Olympic gymnast Jordan Chiles has revealed how a former coach would verbally abuse her about her body, calling her ‘fat’ and saying she looked like a ‘donut.’

The 20-year-old silver medalist spoke candidly about her mental health in a new episode of Taraji P. Henson’s Facebook Watch series Peace of Mind with Taraji, admitting that the cruel bullying from the ex-coach took a ‘huge toll’ on her mental health — and she even declared that she was quitting multiple times.

The body-shaming continued in less overt ways during competitions, where she says judging is often impacted by how a gymnast’s body looks — which means that racism makes it way into judging, too. In particular, Jordan said that even if she performs perfect, judges may deduct from her score because she has a ‘butt.’

In addition to these factors, Jordan said the pressure of high expectations for an Olympian, missing out on fun with friends and family, and coping with injuries have all been difficult to deal with — but she admitted that getting therapy has made her feel ‘lighter’ and ‘happier.’

Rude: Olympic gymnast Jordan Chiles has revealed how a former coach would verbally abuse her about her body, calling her ‘fat’ and saying she looked like a ‘donut’

Opening up: The 20-year-old silver medalist spoke candidly about her mental health in a new episode of Taraji P. Henson's Facebook Watch series

Opening up: The 20-year-old silver medalist spoke candidly about her mental health in a new episode of Taraji P. Henson’s Facebook Watch series

As if! She said an ex-coach used to call her 'fat' and remark on her food intake, and it took 'a huge toll on mental health for me'

As if! She said an ex-coach used to call her ‘fat’ and remark on her food intake, and it took ‘a huge toll on mental health for me’

Jordan didn’t name the abusive former coach, but did share some of the ways in which she got into her head. 

‘So I had a coach verbally abusing me,’ she said. ‘She called me fat. She said, I looked like a donut. To the little-littlest things that people asking me, “Oh, you’re eating this today.”

‘And it’s like, “Well, I’m not eating because you just triggered my brain.” And it was really, really hard on me. 

‘Because I was just like, “This is ridiculous. Like, what have I put myself through?” But I was also enjoying it at the same time. So it was, like, half of my brain was telling me one thing, and half of my brain was telling me another.

‘It took a huge toll on mental health for me. I didn’t know who I was. I was trying to be other people that I wasn’t,’ she said.

In fact, she said, she thought about quitting ‘multiple times.’

‘I would always leave a note before I went to school on the kitchen counter and saying, “I’m done!” But I still went to practice that day. So… it was a thought in my head,’ she said.

'It was really, really hard on me. 'Because I was just like, "This is ridiculous. Like, what have I put myself through?" she said

‘It was really, really hard on me. ‘Because I was just like, “This is ridiculous. Like, what have I put myself through?” she said

Staying strong: Jordan even told her mom she was quitting several times, but she loved it and always went back to it

'I would always leave a note before I went to school on the kitchen counter and saying, "I'm done!" But I still went to practice that day. So... it was a thought in my head,' she said

‘I would always leave a note before I went to school on the kitchen counter and saying, “I’m done!” But I still went to practice that day. So… it was a thought in my head,’ she said

When Mental Health Injuries Sideline Athletes with Olympic Gymnast Jordan Chiles

Olympic gymnast Jordan Chiles shares the pressures to perform she’s faced, what it was like stepping in for teammate Simone Biles at the Olympics and the impact it’s had on her mental health. Former NFL player, Bruce Davis Jr. opens up about his own mental health struggles with depression and alcohol as a result of his time in the NFL. And sports psychologist Dr. Ross Flowers shares some insight into the extreme pressures placed upon the athletes we idolize and the toll that takes on their mental health.

Posted by Taraji P. Henson on Thursday, November 4, 2021

She noted that she faces a particular set of challenges because she is a black gymnast — which, in part, means she has a different body type than some of the other young women and girls she’s competing with and against.  

‘I’ve always thought race was something that was in gymnastics,’ she said. ‘Race, how your body looks. For instance, like, I have a butt. Some others might not. So we can be in a perfect handstand, and they can still take a deduction. 

‘So… Yeah, I wish judging wasn’t so on one body type. And I think that’s where all the political and racism come into the matter,’ she said.

Negative thoughts about her body haven’t been her only source of stress. Jordan also said that it can be difficult being in the spotlight because of the expectations put on her — and the misconception that being an Olympian is a life of fun and glamour.

‘Just because we show the four minutes of us to you, they expect us to go on Twitter and tweet this, to go on Instagram and show this photo, to do this, that or the other, but they don’t understand what we go through to lead up to this moment that we just did because gymnastics is a 24/7 sport,’ she said.

Racism in judging: She noted that she faces a particular set of challenges because she is a black gymnast

Racism in judging: She noted that she faces a particular set of challenges because she is a black gymnast

‘You don’t have time for vacations like everybody else. You don’t have time to go to proms and homecomings. They don’t know what happens in our family. They don’t know all the other logistics of things that go on in our life. 

‘And it sucks. It really does suck because behind the scenes is totally different than what we’re showing. 

‘It’s really, really hard to deal with injuries. You’re just not able to go a day without getting injured, not having the proper coaching because they just think that something’s wrong with you. Also, I mean, there’s a lot of mental health, physical health that comes into being a gymnast, and it takes a toll on your body.’

That isn’t to say she doesn’t love what she does, and Jordan noted how great gymnastics has been for her. 

‘Gymnastics actually saved me. A lot of people thought I had, like, ADD and ADHD, so my parents took me in to gymnastics, and it calmed me down a lot. Like, it just brought me joy,’ she said.

But coming up to the Olympics, her mother suggested that she get therapy for a little extra support.  

‘I went to a sports psychologist, so I was able to actually speak out,’ she said. ‘And I was like, “I’ve never told anybody any of it, like, any of this ever.” And she was like, “Well, that’s why I’m here.” So she helped me through everything, literally everything. And I wish I would’ve done that when I was younger. 

'I've always thought race was something that was in gymnastics,' she said. 'Race, how your body looks. For instance, like, I have a butt. Some others might not. So we can be in a perfect handstand, and they can still take a deduction'

‘I’ve always thought race was something that was in gymnastics,’ she said. ‘Race, how your body looks. For instance, like, I have a butt. Some others might not. So we can be in a perfect handstand, and they can still take a deduction’

‘It helped a lot,’ she added.

‘It’s not good to keep all that humongous ball in your head because it can affect anything that you do… You can hurt yourself,’ she went on.

‘I feel so much lighter. I feel happier. I feel, like, just in a whole, totally different place. Like, I actually found a better version of myself. And it’s something that I never thought I would do, ever.’

She has also found the strength to say when she needs a mental break, and she doesn’t care if critics disagree. 

‘I’m going to go and take that mental break because I need it, because you’re not the one who’s doing the sport I’m doing,’ she said. 

‘You’re not the one going out and showing you guys that four minutes of us competing. You’re just seeing the, “Oh, you’re so bubbly. You’re doing this. You’re doing that.” And we’re tired. We need that time to ourselves. We need to be able to make ourselves happy.’

Jordan did give credit to Naomi Osaka, who pulled out of the French Open and Wimbledon earlier this year to focus on her mental health — and paved the way for more athletes to speak about mental health struggles.  

'There was emotions, there was excitement, there was frustration, there was devastation,' she said of subbing in for Simone Biles in Tokyo

‘There was emotions, there was excitement, there was frustration, there was devastation,’ she said of subbing in for Simone Biles in Tokyo

‘She was the first person I ever heard actually say something about mental health. She just showed and inspired younger girls to do the most amazing thing that you could ever do… is to take care of yourself,’ Jordan said.

Speaking to Taraji and her co-host, Tracie Jade, on the new episode, Jordan also reflected on the dramatic moment she had to sub in for Simone Biles at the Tokyo Olympics. 

‘There was a lot. There was emotions, there was excitement, there was frustration, there was devastation,’ she said.

‘Still, to this day, I get sometimes emotional about it because it’s just like, what she went through and then how, like, the media perceived it, it’s just a hundred percent the wrong way. 

‘It was just very devastating, but I had to put that back because I knew I still had to compete and do this for her because she’s my friend. She’s literally my ride or die. I will do anything for her.’

In the moment, she said, ‘I had to switch my brain really, really fast because going into the competition, I only was competing two events. And so switching your brain to competing all four is a little harder because you don’t know what’s going to happen because you really weren’t training for all four.

She admitted to feeling 'so many emotions' about winning silver: 'I look at it as a gold because what we had to go through was something that was very, very difficult'

She admitted to feeling ‘so many emotions’ about winning silver: ‘I look at it as a gold because what we had to go through was something that was very, very difficult’

‘I really don’t know how we switch our brains,’ she added. ‘I think it’s all about having stuff thrown at us at different moments in time throughout our whole gymnastics career, because there’s a lot of things that get thrown at us. 

‘There’s competitions that get canceled. There’s, “Oh, you have to go up for this because this person gets injured.” Like, I think that’s just how our mind’s been trained.’

She admitted to feeling ‘so many emotions’ about winning silver.  

‘I look at it as a gold because what we had to go through was something that was very, very difficult. And it’s a dedication to Simone because she also was out there with us supporting us

‘Right after our medal, after the interviews and stuff, when we, like, went back to our room, I think that’s when, I personally, was just like, “Okay, so what do we do now?”‘ she said.




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