I'm Mathilde Becerra. I am a French climber from Toulouse France, and I have been climbing for 15 years. I am Pure Climbing, and this is my community story.
When I started climbing, I had no idea how it would affect my expectations about body image. I was 13 years old, and I didn't care much about how I looked. I had always been a super active kid, and this shaped my body from a young age.
It was only after entering the French National team and starting my competition career that body image became a topic. I couldn't help notice the skinny girls around me, who also happened to be the ones winning all the time. It seemed to develop like a real trend, inevitably sneaking into my mind, creating an eating disorder. For many years I carefully monitored my weight and often under ate although my trainings were exhausting.
Being aware of both situations made me take a step back and have more control over my negative thoughts on how I should look like as a climber or just a sportswoman.
Now, whenever these thoughts or bad feelings arise, I remember that I can absolutely trust myself, that my body will morph into exactly what it needs to become to help me reach my dreams like I have done so many times in the past. I want to share this because the more I have learned to accept myself as a whole being, with age as well, the more I feel happy and at peace. I want others to know they can accept themselves as they are too.
Thankfully this never turned into anorexia simply because I couldn't do it. Deep down, it felt wrong, and I couldn't put my body through such suffering. It was through medical tests (BMI, body fat rates) and my own behavior towards food – feeling guilty to eat "normal" amounts – that I was able to recognize what was happening. This was a difficult period of time though both on my mind and my body.
Today, I still feel the" demons" of the past and a lot of pressure about my body image. I'm often scared to gain too much muscle or to become "chubby," especially after being a high-level athlete. In this way, climbing has definitely left its mark on me. I still can't fathom the idea of having a "non-climber body"!
But the good thing is that I've also proven to myself many times that even being a little heavier and eating whatever my body was asking for (always healthy though) - I could still climb very hard and, more importantly, feel beautiful as a woman.