Aussie track star Morgan Mitchell has revealed it “blows her mind” that a female athlete could still be talked about in this way.
Aussie Olympian Morgan Mitchell has revealed she was cellulite shamed after returning from an off-season.
The 27-year-old athlete has opened up on her body-image journey in a new podcast where she reveals she has repeatedly had to defend how her body looks.
The Tokyo Olympics runner, who competed in the 800m event, is now owning the body features that have attracted attention in recent years.
Mitchell has established herself as a powerful voice in Australian fitness since appearing on Netflix’s monster documentary The Game Changersand also became the first athlete to be the global face of gym giant F45.
Despite her powerful, athletic frame, Mitchell has dealt with the mental struggles that have come with repeated trolling and criticism of her body.
The proudly vegan athlete has now told the Uninterrupted by Women’s Health Australia podcast she had to take a break from the sport following the 2016 Olympics in Rio as a result of the criticism.
In the years after her first Olympics campaign where she helped the Aussie 4 x 400m relay team reach the final, she says she dropped 4kg to be competing at 58kg before she put the weight back on in 2018.
It resulted in more criticism about her body.
“I was getting BMI testing every three weeks. If I showed you what I looked like in 2017… I wouldn’t eat breakfast and then I’d train, eat a muesli bar and maybe half a salad roll for dinner,” she said.
She says trolls on social media would comment “you’re fat”.
Her coach Elizabeth Matthews has been a big influence in helping Mitchell reach a healthier place mentally and physically.
“The thing for me, when I was transitioning [from the 400m to 800m event] and I got rid of my whole team,” she said.
“I found a new coach and was like, yep, she’s a female. My sport psych, yep, she’s a female. My manager, yep, female.
“Women understand women. That’s one thing I found I just couldn’t get with men. They just didn’t want to know, they’d say ‘toughen up and move on, do this, do that.
“You shouldn’t be complaining without understanding because they’d never been in a woman’s body. And my coach is awesome because she just goes, ‘If you come to training and hit my times that I want you to hit, I couldn’t care what you look like’.”
She said she is still blown away by the fickle world of being an influencer with more than 110,000 followers on Instagram because of the range of comments she still receives on social media posts.
“All I’ve ever heard is, ‘You’re so skinny, you look great’ or ‘oh, you’ve got cellulite on your thighs, you’re going to run slow’. Now that I’m reflecting on it, it just makes me laugh,” she said.
“It used to really eat away at me but now I’m like, how could people? How could you say that to someone? It blows my mind.”
She has previously spoken about being forced to defend herself after fitness YouTuber Chris Kruger said in 2019 she had “cottage cheese thighs” as a result of her switch to a vegan diet.
Mitchell responded at the time: “There were a few reasons why I decided to respond. The video he posted the information on is so incorrect it’s not funny,” she said.
“I’ve ticked so many positive boxes I just didn’t want a troll getting in my way, especially as I hate the whole body-shaming, career-shaming thing.”
Since responding, Mitchell said she had received plenty of supportive messages from her followers.
“At the end of the day, yes, I get dimples, I’ve always had dimples before I was even vegan,” she said.
“I’m always going to be a little bit heavier in off season, I’m not going to win every race, flaws are OK and I had so many people reminding me of that.”