McKayla Maroney is Awesome (Part II)

On January 29th I published an article titled “McKayla Maroney is Awesome.” Even though the article was published in 2021, it actually featured content that was roughly eight months old. One of the main themes of the article was highlighting personal comments made by McKayla in regards to how she struggled to avoid the paparazzi at the height of the #MeToo movement.

That article was intended to resurface commentary made eight months ago, but the day after I published it McKayla Maroney quietly restarted this very conversation herself. McKayla Maroney has quietly started a second social media on Instagram which can be found here with “glohe_” being its handle. The purpose of this account is to focus on personal beauty as well as mental health and wellness.

What McKayla Maroney had done was brilliant because she has divided her social media in half which allows her to cater to the two different factions of her fanbase. At 1.3 million followers, Maroney’s “main” account is massive and much of that fanbase is barely invested in gymnastics. Others are probably the type who would be insensitive to many of the issues that require a more serious tone.

McKayla uses the spelling “Glohé” to refer to this new account and even posted the above image which looks an awful lot like a logo. But she has yet to promote any actual products associated with the Glohe name. It does seem like she is being a smart businesswoman and setting herself up for exactly that.

The new McKayla Maroney Instagram account is almost as if McKayla is “coming home” and building a second platform that is more closely aligned with what McKayla’s following looked like before she became a household name. She isn’t really advertising the existence of this second account to her mainstream fans. But those who understand the context of “16.233” have had no trouble finding it.

Note: In the time I first started writing this article to publishing it, Glohe has gone from 3,000 to 13,000 followers.

The purpose of this article is to explain this difference because not only does Maroney have two accounts, but one isn’t well advertised and many gymnastics fans might not have seen it. I also felt an article was necessary because in over the course of just a few days, Glohe has produced numerous posts that provide significant insights in regards to McKayla. But what I found particularly intriguing is how similar the message between Glohe and my “McKayla Maroney is Awesome” article from January 29th was.

McKayla Maroney

In that article I noted that having the paparazzi stalk McKayla and camp outside her house during #MeToo was something that deeply impacted Maroney. Going as far as to be the only moment during her InstagramLive sessions where Maroney gave any indication of anger as she talked about her past experiences. Maroney provided further details regarding this experience on Glohe by stating:

“From that I developed severe isolations issues, where It became hard for me to leave the house, see friends, and be a normal person. All I wanted to do was hide. My mom and dad would even pick up groceries for me. Writing music was my only happiness.”

Maroney also talked about how her struggles with binge eating combined with the burden of being chased by photographers whenever she appeared in public, added to the difficulty of coping with the passing of her father. Maroney said:

“I then fasted “starved” myself for 10 days to be skinny enough for his funeral. I almost didn’t want to go, just because of how I looked. That was a true low point in my life, and from that moment, I knew things needed to change. I took a Binge Eating course, and have not starved myself since.”

McKayla Maroney

One of the central themes of this new Instagram account is Maroney talking about acne. It is an issue that impacts every teenager, but for McKayla who became famous worldwide specifically because of her face, it easily becomes understandable how this emerged as one of the most sensitive issues she had to overcome. In the following quote Maroney went out of her way to lump “acne” in with all of the other traumas she has had to endure.

In 2016-2019 I struggled a lot with PTSD, binge eating, acne, and lots of health issues from the abuse I went through in gymnastics.

The reason I bring this up is because McKayla is making “skincare” a central part of her theme on Glohe. It is reminiscent of McKayla’s interests in music being initially perceived by gymnastics fans as financially motivated, only to later learn that Maroney’s reasons for promoting music were deeply personal and part of her healing process. McKayla appears to be doing the same with her pivot to focusing on skincare.

For someone who has been knocked down so many times in life, all McKayla Maroney ever wants to do is give back to the world with continued messages of positivity. Glohe is filled with examples of “self-care” from suggestions on healthy eating habits to motivating people to take a nature hike. And while Glohe has similarities to a corporate brand, that hasn’t yet happened. For all we know Maroney is building up Glohe so it is something she can have in her “backpocket” if she ever wants to use it for a future business endeavor.

McKayla Maroney’s other major Glohe post was a scathing rebuke of her coaches that gained a lot of traction on the Gymternet. It was a #GymnastAlliance style post that didn’t use the hashtag. The post can be found here, but for those who don’t use Instagram or don’t want to open an Instagram link I will post a copy of it at the bottom. With my quick thoughts below.

McKayla Maroney

I grew up with a dream to be an Olympic gymnast, in a sport that’s all about beauty, and how you look. Surrounded by coaches that obsessed on food, and thought carrots had too much sugar. I vividly remember begging a gym mom for food, and eating a bagel she gave me locked in the bathroom, with the lights off to eat before morning practice.
My gym was a two hour drive my house, so during our summer camp I stayed at my coaches house.

I was fed a pack of walnuts with honey in the morning, a small salad at lunch, and chicken for dinner.

At 14, training 8 hours a day in the summer, I was fkn pissed and starving lol.
They would comment on my make up, hair, and skin… My hair was always too long, and my eyeshadow looked like a “raccoon”😂 She wasn’t wrong👏😂 but they’re main obsession was my body, and my teammates bodies. I watched them pick apart, and ridicule girls constantly. I was angry and disgusted with my coaches on a daily basis. I hated them, yet still obeyed them, feared them, and wanted their love, and praise.

I really wasn’t miserable until after Olympics, when my weight became a daily discussion.

At 18, I was the oldest in the gym, but my body was being compared to 12 year olds. I hated how they looked at me, I felt disgusting. I would have panic attacks in the car, before walking into the gym.
I just wanted to disappear.

I loved gymnastics, but the environment was unbearable.

Let me also mention that they definitely were the nicest to me! I was the “spoiled” one for sure.

I watched them treat other girls way worse, and I lived in fear of that being me. I saw girls get trained in ways that was purely to punish them, and make them cry, or get hurt.
I’ve seen girls get thrown, ripped off equipment, or spotted aggressively. Crazy enough, on Simone Biles birthday, in 2015, I was in the gym, and saw a young teammate of mine getting “punished” again, and I just couldn’t stand to watch. I walked out, left the gym, and never came back.

I made my first cover of a gymnastics magazine at 14. **in 2nd picture above** My girl coach hung up the magazine on a bulletin board at my gym.
She pointed to it and said “I want you to look like this forever.”

McKayla Maroney

Quick Thoughts

(A) McKayla points out the absurdity of being an 18 year old and the oldest person in the gym, while having her body compared to 12 year olds. Not only is this absurd, but it is a dilemma gymnasts have been dealing with since the Nadia-era and still continues to this day.

(B) When a coach tells a 14 year old that she should keep her body “forever” this essentially places an obtainable performance requirement on that gymnast. When gymnasts are encouraged to obtain the unobtainable, their only recourse is to resort to extreme measures as they fight a losing battle against preventing their natural growth. The only way to do that is eating habits and mental mindsets which are a fast-track to a future eating disorder.

(C) Even if a gymnast manages to maintain a pre-pubescent body into her late teenage years by combining unhealthy eating habits with a high-octane training regimen, eventually nature will take its course. Eventually that gymnast will retire and the body changes which are part of the natural growth cycle that had been suppressed for all those years can no longer be suppressed, and she will experience a weight gain.

What happens to the mentality of that young adult who is now gaining weight as a retired gymnast, but has spent her entire teenage life being told by her coaches that to gain weight makes her fat, ugly, and even unattractive? Is the implication that she is now all of those things as a young retired gymnast in her early 20s?

Comments regarding body image don’t simply disappear when a gymnast retires. Those lessons remain etched in their memory. What makes the comment that a 14 year old should keep her body “forever” is that it represents the very worst of this problem. Not only does it set up a gymnast horribly for the rest of her career, but it sets them up to struggle immediately upon their retirement. And it speaks to the coaching environment in which McKayla was subjected to, where all of the limits were pushed to the extreme.

McKayla Maroney

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