British heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson reveals her body image struggles growing up

Katarina Johnson-Thompson has said she struggled with body image (PA Images)
16:25pm, Sat 29 Feb 2020
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British heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson has told how she struggled with body image when she was younger.

She was speaking after walking the runway at the Nike Forum 2020 at New York Fasion Week, sayig that a similar show would have helped her when she was growing up.

"I grew up when size zero was a thing so it would have helped so much. I wouldn’t have been ashamed of my muscles and I would have been able to see being strong as beautiful instead of just skinny as beautiful.

"When I was very young, I wasn't very confident. When I was stood at the starting line at the London 2012 Olympics at 19 years old, I had 80,000 people in the stadium, I had millions of people at home watching and I wasn't comfortable basically being in the crop top and knickers. 

"In those moments I wasn’t thinking about doing the high jump I was thinking about what people thought of how I looked. I wasn't bothered about the long jump, I was just bothered about perceptions of other people, and if I didn’t perform well, I worried people would think it was because of the way I looked.

"Being seen as strong when you're trying to grow up and attract boys, was hard, too. I went to an all-girls school and then in the sixth form when the boys come in, I remember being in a class one day some guy said, ‘your calves look hectic,’ which means, ‘your calves look thick.’ At that moment I was just mortified," she told Glamour.

She the explained how she overcame her struggles.

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"I honestly don't know but I think it changed for me in 2014 when I started seeing my body as something I need to look after and fuel opposed to looking at it and seeing it as something I didn’t love. 

"I can walk around in sports kit and people can comment but if that happened when I was younger, I was worried people thought I looked like a man. I used to look for it on the internet for a little bit too, I used to look at the photos of myself competing and critique myself. I don’t do that anymore."