Kamerin Moore, former elite gymnast and Larry Nassar survivor, posted a video to Youtube this week discussing her struggles with body image after a lifetime spent as a gymnast. “I’ve had poor body image, I mean, as long as I can remember,” she says close to the start. “Like since I hit puberty.”
It’s not the first video that Moore has posted. She first came forward as a victim of Nassar’s abuse last year in another Youtube video, and also talked about her abuse during her victim impact statement during Nassar’s sentencing in Michigan’s Ingham County in January. (Moore’s younger brother, Jacob, is so far the only male Nassar victim to come forward.)
Moore says that she hit puberty at 14, when she underwent shoulder surgery for an injury. That was the first time in her life that she was out of the gym for an extended period of time, which enabled her body to start developing as it naturally would have had the process not been delayed by her arduous training. “I wasn’t big by any means,” she explains. “I just got bigger.”
“That, for some reason, wasn’t acceptable according to my coach,” Moore continued. Moore doesn’t name her coach in video, but throughout her gymnastics career she was coached by John Geddert, who owned Twistars USA in Michigan. He was close with Nassar and the former doctor used to “treat” gymnasts in the backroom of the gym on a regular basis. Many Geddert gymnasts—including world and Olympic champion Jordyn Wieber—were sexually abused by Nassar. Many former Twistars gymnasts have accused Geddert of being emotionally abusive towards them during their competitive gymnastics careers.
Moore talks about how Geddert routinely weighed and measured her, disparaging her if she weighed “too much” and praising her if she lost weight, which she managed to do only through unhealthy means. Moore’s story, in this respect, sounds like the stories of many other gymnasts who were shamed and pressured by coaches to lose weight. It’s a story that has been told at least since Joan Ryan’s 1995 book Little Girls in Pretty Boxes.
Before she gets into the details of her eating and body image issues, Moore talks about how difficult it has been to find the right words to even talk about what happened to her, in part, because she is still struggling with how to feel about the role her coach played in all of this. “I didn’t know the right words because I don’t like throwing people under the bus,” she says at about 4:14 in the 17-minute video, “or making it sound like it was anyone else’s fault and I didn’t want to make somebody out to sound like a bad person. But I guess at the end of the day I have realized that my coach was a bad person and no one is ever going to tell me otherwise.”
Moore talks about having to re-evaluate her perspective on her career as she grapples not just with Nassar’s actions but with Geddert’s too. She is still working on assessing what all that means when she looks back on her gymnastics career.
“I had this thing with my coach where I was like, ‘He was the reason I was such a good gymnast and the reason that I got a full ride scholarship and the reason I had so many cool experiences, you know, traveling because I was good at gymnastics and stuff,’” she explains. “It’s taken me a while to get to the point where I’m like, that doesn’t excuse the horrible things he did and said to me and my teammates.”
But she’s there now. Not only is Moore ready to say that her gymnastics achievements under Geddert’s tutelage do not excuse how the coach treated her and her teammates, but she seems to feel that the abuse she endured nullifies his contributions to her success in the sport.
“Those successes, at this point, I’m going to take as my own. I’m not going to attribute those to him because he obviously, he honestly did a lot more damage to my life than good.”
The emotional journey that Moore describes is her own, but it speaks to something that a lot of gymnasts are surely going through as they try to figure out how to relate to this sport at this moment, and how to feel about their achievements and the people who may have helped them reach their athletic goals even as they were abusing them in ways that will follow them for years to come.