Unknown to many, Amanda Beard silently struggled with bulimia and depression for years. The multiple Olympics medal winning swimmer and successful model agonized for years over her physical appearance. Even though everyone else saw a thin beautiful and successful woman, Beard thought of herself as fat, ugly and a failure.
In her college years she had begun cutting herself to deal with the extreme agony she was going through. Along with the cutting, she became bulimic as a way to cope with all the pressure and her low self-esteem. Through the years, no one suspected a thing because on the outside she appeared to be so successful.
She told Today’s Ann Curry, “I felt like an idiot saying I was struggling so much inside because I was an Olympic athlete. I was having a great career. I had my own house. There were all these great things going on in my life, but on the inside, I was hating everything about me.”
Beard began to feel the pressure at a young age. She won her first medal when she was only 14 years old. She said that it was a lot for a teen to take in, that she felt the constant need to look beautiful, thin and perfect. The pressure was magnified when during her second Olympics in Syndney in 2000, the media began saying she had put on weight.
Beard said that she kept her personal life and swimming separate and this helped her to still be a good swimmer. She believes this is also why no one ever noticed what was going on with her internally.
When she finally began to confide with her boyfriend (now husband) she started to feel it was possible for things to turn for the better. With years of therapy and the support of her husband the Olympic swimmer was able to go back to a healthy place. Beard has decided to share her struggles in a memoir, “In the Water They Can’t See You Cry.”
The title of the book reflects the only place she could find refuge for her pain, the pool. As soon as she would get in the water, she would let herself cry. She said that is was her way of meditating.
She hopes her book will help other women and girls feel better about themselves no matter how pressured they feel to look thinner and more beautiful. She wants them to understand that it is OK to speak out about things and by doing this will help prevent the inner struggles that she suffered.
April 5th, 2012