Living Normal Abnormally

In a world where most people only speak about the “good”, it can sometimes make you feel alone when you’re experiencing the “bad”, abnormal, weird, and scary things within your natural body. I know I have felt alone and questioned, thinking that I was the only one to had ever experience these things. One morning, in 2008, I woke up to a strange, shiny, hard circle on my left bicep. IMG_4652-1.jpegScared and alarmed, I went straight to my mom. Neither of us had ever seen anything like it so I went to a dermatologist and got a biopsy, where they cut a piece out, and tested the skin to see what it was. They found out it was rare skin disease called granuloma annulare and told me it would go away within three years. Here I am, in 2018, with the same circle on my left bicep along with many more now, but all over my body. But on the bright side it doesn’t give me any trouble, just a lot of questions from the public eye that I have no answers for, because they remain unanswered for myself. I’ve had them for so long now, that although at times I wish they weren’t there, I also almost can’t imagine myself without them. They are like a part of me that makes me who I am; and in addition to that, what’s the fun in having normal skin anyway?IMG_4563.JPG

That’s not where it ends for my bizarre health conditions though, and this one I feel far less comfortable sharing, so let me warn you now… It will get graphic and it won’t exactly be appealing, but I am sharing this in hopes of comforting others that may be able to relate. A little over a year ago in November of 2016, I began having rare experiences. I started noticing blood in my stool, and a couple weeks after the first appearance, I woke up in the middle of the night with excruciating stomach pain and immediately started vomiting. Taken that I had been embarrassed, this was the first time I mentioned the blood to anyone. I went to the doctors the next day and was told it was hemorrhoids. So I continued my life, semi-normal. I kept having blood in my stool, as my conditions progressively worsened. I started having uncontrollable bowel movements, where I would have to carry a second pair of clothes with me, times when I was so close to the restroom but not close enough, and times I was incapable of going to the gym, afraid I would have an accident during one of my tumbling passes. I went on like this for months without saying a word to anyone, terrified of not knowing when it would happen again. I also had a really hard time using public restrooms, (which because of my urgency, is not really an option for me anymore), since I found that most of my bowel movements contained loud gas and had completely changed consistency. The intolerable stomach pain hadn’t appeared in a few months, so I kept hoping all my problems would soon go away. However, right after the school year ended, when I had only a few hours to move all my stuff out of the dorms and catch a flight, the pain came back full force. It felt like someone was stabbing my stomach and I couldn’t stop vomiting. At this point, I knew something was significantly worse than I had previously thought. I knew I needed to find a real solution and finally scheduled a colonoscopy. Scared and mortified, I did what most people would do, and searched the internet for a possible diagnosis. I found that I had all of the symptoms pertaining to colon cancer. I immediately broke down into tears and entered a world of confusion and silence. After testing, the results came back as ulcerative colitis. This is a chronic, inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. From there I had to figure out how to adjust to my new “normal”.IMG_4651.jpeg (the right picture shows the blood in the deep corner and the inflammation lining my digestive tract)

While organizing my thoughts for this post, I had a conversation about what “normal” is with my coach, Chris. He explained to me that normal to him is experiencing the different emotions that come with specific events in our life and learning how to adapt to them. That is exactly what I had to do. Of course at times I found it mentally difficult to grasp the fact that one second, I could have a completely normal stomach, and the next, a completely destroyed one. Yet, I have learned to enjoy the process and learned more about how to make my stomach–and therefore body–the best it can be. I still have flare ups that have made it undeniably clear how much stress affects the stomach. And while experiencing all of this, I had an extremely difficult time retaining food, which resulted in a decent amount of weight loss this past year. This weight loss was so evident that I had plenty of people commented on it, saying how good I looked and how skinny I was, which should be a compliment, right? But I guess everything comes at a price. There is no normal, we just don’t talk about the abnormal. We are all experiencing something, it’s just a matter of looking beneath the surface. You are not alone. 

Demanding Change and Moving Forward…

Martha Karolyi
Martha Karolyi, national team coordinator for USA Gymnastics, gives instructions to gymnasts after a training session at the Karolyi Ranch Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in New Waverly, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Gymnastics… As young kids, we wake up and can’t sit still until our parents tell us it is time to go to gym. The joy that once pulsated through our bodies is far too soon diminished and ripped away from us, as the elite atmosphere kicks in and soon takes away the thing that we had once seen as the greatest time of our life. Now, that is not to say that elite gymnastics is horrible and I regret it, because I don’t at all. I guess what I am trying to say is that elite gymnastics should only be a place where our joy continues to grow because now we have the actual chance to put our long term goals into play.

When I google gymnastics, wikipedia says “gymnastics is a sport practiced by men and women that requires balance, strength, flexibility, agility, coordination, endurance and control”. But let me relay some of the important things that it leaves out. Gymnastics requires sacrifice, dedication, discipline, getting back up every time you fall down, repetition, mental toughness, along with support, joy, and communication; and this is still probably only half of it. Support, joy, balance and communication are beyond the most important of these and it just so happens that wikipedia is not the only one who neglects these things; coaches, parents, and athletes do as well…

It is sad to look back and think that it required things to get this bad for there to finally be a movement for change. It is sad that the mental and verbal abuse was not only never acknowledged, but rather ignored, no matter how apparent it was. Time for change has been long overdue. We are now crying out and demanding that our voices be heard once and for all and that all of our reports are taken seriously and not simply swept under the rug, because exactly as sexual abuse leaves its undying marks, this type of verbal abuse does just as well.

Our voices were never heard sooner simply because of the fear instilled in us and the authorities that silenced us. Either we were terrified of speaking up or when we did we were invalidated. So when I talk  about communication, I’m not referring to there just being open communication between the athlete and coach but between the athlete and parents as well. This does not mean that the athlete is just talking to talk, but instead really being heard and understood. For gymnastics to move forward, gymnasts need to be able to have trust in the program and that everyone around us is willing to put their pride aside and do whatever it takes to protect us as people and fully support what we want.

Now as young women, we aren’t asking for all the power. We just need compromise. We don’t always know what is best, that is why coaches are hired and parents are there to guide. Verbal and mental abuse, unfortunately, are probably present within any high level sport but that also does not mean that that is the only way to win. Coaches need to learn when to keep pushing and when to pull back and that it is easier to understand and make corrections when it comes from an educational standpoint, rather than a reprimanding one. As developing individuals, it becomes extremely easy to take these antagonizing remarks personally. We haven’t developed as people yet, so of course we are impressionable, eager for approval, and more than anything I can assure we want success just as much as you, if not more.

There was a point during my freshman year of college, when it became undeniably clear that I didn’t want to be great again because when I had been great, I was miserable. I, of course, now know that it wasn’t the result of me being great that made it miserable, it was the culture and environment that came along with it. It was the fact that the way I viewed winning became impaired because no matter what the results were, it still wasn’t good enough. I still wasn’t good enough. I have such a vivid image of me coming home after winning American Cup, in 2013, crying. I was in excruciating pain as one of my vertebrates was protruding out from my spine. My well-being had been neglected for the chance to win a gold medal and at just 16 years old, I was told my back would never be the same again. This was more than the result of a physical burnout, this was the product of a mental one too.


Sexual Assault

Unconscious, awake, a stranger or friend.
These are the stories we must defend.
Far too often we make excuses for these offenders,
But any time you force sexual activity you are a contender.
Was it what I wore? Was I asking for this attention?
They’ll think I’m a whore and there was no dissension.
I laid there stripped of my dignity,
Questioning if it was wrong to speak malignity.
Maybe it was my fault and I’m the one to blame,
After all I am the one with the ripped clothes left bloody and bruised, feeling ashamed.
But how many girls have you done this to and thought it all the same?
I wanted and told you to stop after an innocent goodnight kiss,
But there you ended on top, too weak to fight back all I could do was submiss.
You moved my hand, I removed my hand.
Don’t you understand, what don’t you understand?
This is more than i can withstand.
What if I didn’t even know you and I was walking down the street.
You pushed me down and dragged me somewhere discrete.
Did your actions help make YOU feel complete?
Did I not scream NO loud enough?
People will think this is all a bluff.
Because there are sick people out there that make up this is stuff.
To take away someone’s life and put them in handcuffs.
But you took mine away, and it didn’t seem tough.
It only took you a few moments for you to take everything you stole,
But believe me your everlasting presence has taken much more than just its physical toll.
This weight that I carry as a burden is weighing me below.
I felt worthless and useless, you took my dignity and beat it senseless, you selfish….
There are no words to describe people like you.
This only depicts half of what people go through…
About one in six females are raped throughout their life time,
And out of that about 33% of these women report contemplating suicide while 13% actually do.
This leaves a deeper more permanent mark than any fucking tattoo.
Talk about permanent, let’s talk about pregnancy.
What a constant reminder to live with endlessly.
And that’s not even where it ends because now you gave me an std,
The results came back and read, hepatitis b.
And let’s talk about men that get raped because I know one that has been.
But with a man what excuses will our society begin?
Isn’t he supposed to be tough?
He must be into that stuff…
We’re finally hearing out women isn’t that enough?
Listen to me when I say we have the right to say no without a reason.
A no does not give you the right to continue, that’s treason.
We’re stronger than you now and fighting harder,
There will be change this is just the starter.
 At what point will you realize it isn’t yours to take?
Because clearly it didn’t matter that it was our life that was at stake.

Katelyn Ohashi

I, first, want to start off by saying that I have never been sexually assaulted. I decided to talk about this matter when I first saw Ana Mendieta’s work, Rape Scene, and was further inspired by all of the USA gymnastics sexual abuse charges. I wanted to recreate the details that Mendieta did within her photographs, to accomplish some of the same feelings that come up, by writing a poem.


This topic is extremely important to talk about as there are so many different forms that rape can come in. As I mention in the beginning, we can be unconscious, awake, and the perpetrator could be a stranger or a friend. They can do it in a very aggressive manner or simply by ignoring your voice, body language, or discomfort. When alcohol is consumed on both sides it becomes an even trickier topic because most of the time people are unaware of what they are doing or what is happening. In addition, if it is a person you know you would not want to get them in trouble, so it is easier to stay quiet. I’m sure guilt plays its role as well, while you blame yourself for drinking that much or putting yourself in such a risky situation that possibly could have just been avoided. This is not the only time that guilt plays a part in rape. There are many times when people think that it is their fault for something happening to them, that they somehow asked for it or should have been more resistant. Unfortunately, most of societies feedback tells them the same thing. They will tell you, “you have to take some responsibility for your actions, you shouldn’t have been in their room in the first place,” or “you should have left” . They will ask you “Well what were you wearing?” “How much did you have to drink?” “Did you lead them on in any way or flirt with them?” Firstly, I can assure you it is not always that simple, and secondly, we should be able to go over to hangout with someone of the opposite or even same gender without being forced into something we are uncomfortable with. Giving consent to some things does not give them consent to do everything and consent can be revoked at any point you choose. Women, we are allowed to say no without feeling guilty or being seen as anything but having respect for ourselves.

No one should feel ashamed about being sexually assaulted because if I have learned one thing, it is that at the end of the day what a person does to you has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. If someone chooses to ignore and go against our voice and resistance, we will fight against them harder by using our voices and empowering those that come next. We will teach the world to stop putting a stigma around sexual assault victims and show everyone that they will never get taken advantage of again where it actually counts. We will teach the world the everlasting effects that rape can have so that maybe, just maybe, someone will think before they act or listen to someone when they say no. We will teach the world that this stuff happens to men too and when men come out I hope that we are more than open minded enough to listen and understand. We need to understand that when a man gets taken advantage of by a girl that it is not a laughing matter and should not be seen as just another prize. We need to understand that this can be just as detrimental. And when a man gets taken advantage of by another man, we must be more than understanding because that takes a lot of humility for a man to stand up and admit that.

It is obvious that there were years of fear instilled into the gymnast that were taken advantage of and a lot of them weren’t even old enough to understand what was happening at the time. It came from the entire atmosphere we were put in and when someone did come out, they were either paid off to stay silent or the evidence was swept under the rug and ignored.

It is beyond time for change and I stand behind each and every survivor! Together there will be change. Time is Up!

Self Love

As time goes on it becomes harder to establish the things we love about ourselves without being seen as cocky.
We fill it in our heads that we cannot truly believe these things as people fill our minds with negativity.
Only if we are are pretty, famous, smart, or the perfect size do we have dignity.  
We starve ourselves, put on makeup, try to fit current trends, depriving ourselves we live miserably.
And guess who profits from this? No one but the industry.
My favorite quote is that we were born with self compassion, it is self loathing that is taught.
People try to take others down together as they plot,
As hard as we try to ignore it sometimes people cannot,
With these taunting words our minds get caught,
Peoples words and actions eventual consume us until our insides rot,
At times the only escape seems to be the touch of a wrecked gunshot.  
We soon enough forget anything and everything we have ever loved about ourselves,
Getting brainwashed into thinking differently,
Losing all self confidence consequently.
We lose the love we once had thinking we can never bring it back,
Instead of looking at everything we do have we look at everything we lack.
When you look in the mirror I hope you can see all the things you aim to be,
The positive things you are at that time and place,
That you can always look and see a smiling face.
Your individuality is what makes you beautiful,
Your ambitions, your love, your compassion, your talents whether you realize it or not,
Being accepted and loved is not something that is bought.
These things come from within,
Believe me it’s never too late to begin.
The goal isn’t to love ourselves if and when,
It is supposed to stay there unconditionally, this is no sin. 

This poem is dedicated to a friend of mine that had a difficult time telling me even three things she loved about herself. As she revealed her story, it became astonishingly clear to me that all the negative things she believed about herself were instilled by society and the peers surrounding her.

Imagine what it is like to be stuck inside of a body or mind that even we cannot accept. It must not be too hard to imagine because a majority of us are not comfortable with ourselves. We get caught up in social media that creates this cycle of constant comparison, envy, and editing that may only relay a quarter of a person’s actual life. The actual content of a person is essentially diminished within the photo, leaving us with nothing but physical attributes to judge. In addition to that, there are fake accounts and cyberbullying circulating the internet, allowing people to feel empowered by bringing others down while simply hiding behind a computer screen.

We live in a world where no is just going to pick us, that is why we must always pick ourselves. We were pre wired to love and accept ourselves but somewhere along the way they get rewired. How do we reach full contentment with ourselves? And how do we fully heal and accept all of our brokenness? No one is going to do it for us, I can assure you of that now. So, instead of focusing on others or the opinions on others, lets focus on the true value and purpose of ourselves. No one is put on earth to increase or decrease the value of another person, only we have the power to do so from within. We live with ourselves 24/7, why should we not have the power to love ourselves and fully accept ourselves. We must forgive ourselves and fall in love with the process not just the outcome. Do it for you, no one else.

Cheers to a New Year and loving ourselves!

Dear Voices


March, 2013

My world has completely changed. I have had a multitude of injuries throughout my career, but this one is different. This time I’ve been told I may never be able to do gymnastics again. However, this is just one doctor’s opinion, I plan on getting more. Besides this, you would think I’d be devastated, right? Instead, I have this sense of relief; relief that I might not have to worry about getting in trouble about my weight or feeling self-conscious putting on a leotard in front of anyone, ever again. I wouldn’t have to worry about not being able to make a skill the next day because of being too heavy. For once, I would have some type of freedom.

June, 2013

I have gained weight and gained it fast. I’ve put on 20 pounds over the course of around two months, which I can’t even bring myself to say aloud. I hate the way I look and feel and on top of this, I started my period last month, which is just another reminder that I have gotten fat. Ashamed, I tried hiding it from my mom, but that didn’t last long, just like my short lived feeling of freedom.  

November, 2013

I am going into the gym, just less frequently because I am still unaware of what is happening and I don’t really like being there. I hide in the back of the gym wearing baggy clothes to avoid the judging eyes that stare at me from across the room in disappointment. I feel like a failure, as though I am now actually everything I had ever been told. I feel as if my own mother cannot even look at me in the eyes, and now I am at the point I can’t even look at myself. I am completely and utterly in disgust with myself. I’m unsure which is worse, the world I experienced before my injury or the one I am enduring now.

As a teenager it was hard to grasp and understand all of the responsibilities I had tied to training as well as outside of it. I hoped being injured would alleviate some of the pressures put on me from gymnastics but as it turned out they only continued. It felt as if I could not escape the world around me and the one I had created in my head. It was hard to separate the two because the voices around me eventually turned into the voice of my own.  I don’t believe that anyone meant me harm along the way, but more often than we notice, we internalize people’s words. In some scenarios, people are fortunate enough to overcome these effects, however in less fortunate cases these things can stick with us, reprehending ourselves from healing. Make sure to check back in on my upcoming posts as I reveal segments of my life that have helped me overcome my own voice and achieved self acceptance.

Dear Standards

Image result for katelyn ohashi 2010                  

Most kids at the age of 12 were probably playing video games and doing some chores. Me? I was training at least 36 hours a week, plastered on posters and magazines, representing the US National Team. I had no voice or option but to live up to the expectations of everyone else, so I experienced these cruel, unwanted body remarks from just about everyone— coaches, fans/gymnastics followers, National team staff, my mother, and even myself. It started when I was 13, barely weighing 70 pounds. I’ve been IMG_8679told I looked like I swallowed an elephant or a pig, whichever was more fitting that day. I was compared to a bird that was too fat to lift itself off the ground. If I “looked” bigger on a given day, I had to run and condition with heavy sweats until it seemed like I was “ready” to start practice. I’ve even been asked to sign a contract that would basically prohibit me from training if I did not lose weight. I still receive comments on Instagram and Youtube, and, unfortunately, all these remarks do is bring up the dark memories from when I wasn’t confident in my body; the times my self-esteem was deteriorated every time I heard and even believed these harsh critiques.

June, 2010

Ever since I made the team last year, I have felt pressure to live up to a certain standard and fit the stereotypical body type of a gymnast. My coach believes that me messing up or falling is a result of me being too heavy, so I have got in the habit of measuring my thighs with my hands everyday to see if I have gained any weight. Normally I can get halfway up them but today when I tried, I couldn’t. I immediately freaked out and told myself I couldn’t afford to finish my half of a sandwich for lunch this afternoon, and my dinner consisted of vegetables and hummus. I am currently experiencing some hunger pains, but if I go to sleep right now I can sleep it away. I’m used to waking up to the taste of blood or iron in my mouth, as if I might almost throw up from being so hungry.


January, 2011

My mom is an extremely healthy person and only shops at whole foods. Shoot, even my dog only eats organic food. My brother on the other hand, can eat whatever he wants without putting on weight so she only buys him food. She knows what it takes to be a good, healthy athlete, so she hides the food that she buys for him from me. I understand that this might be for my own benefit but at times it feels as if everywhere I look someone is telling me or doing something to let me know that I am already too big. I don’t even feel comfortable in my own home. Fortunately, she works until pretty late at night, so when I get hungry and I’m home alone I find the hidden food and eat some of it. Tonight I ate too much though. I feel disgusting, as if I can already feel the fat growing on my legs. I don’t want to get in trouble tomorrow so I must force myself to do conditioning until my conscience is clean enough to fall asleep.


December, 2011

Exercising at night has become exhausting. I feel uncontrollable around food when I get the chance to eat it, so I am trying a new solution. I know bulimia is not healthy, but it could potentially be the only thing to save me. I’m tired of only eating vegetables and I’m tired of running and conditioning every time I “look” like I’m a little heavier. This is the fifth Monday in a row that I have gotten kicked out because I was too heavy. I think I have become obsessed with weighing myself because I can’t start practice without stepping on the scale and I can’t leave practice without knowing I’ve lost some weight. I cry myself to sleep most of the time now and since there’s no one around to talk to, I have learned that writing is my only escape.

These are some of the first journal entries that I will share as I take you through my perspective on how body shaming has affected me throughout my life. Next post I will continue with more of my personal stories to illustrate why words can have a bigger impact than we believe.

The Homeless


By Katelyn Ohashi

Homeless people… Do you ever wonder how they ended up there? Have you stopped to ask? Or maybe you do not pay them any mind at all; but do you know how many people have judged them based off of the first thing they see? Maybe you were one to judge them. Do you know how many people truly believe that a homeless person could get a job, over someone else that has clean clothes and a home to live in, if they wanted?

I used to be against giving money to homeless people because I would rather give them food. But then one of my friends explained to me that during a church service, the priest pointed out that what they spend their money on is what gives them happiness. Homeless people are left with nothing– no bed to sleep on, no family to return to after their day is over, and no feeling of privacy or protection– so sometimes in order to accept, or maybe not even accept but to survive the streets they need that money to give them just enough happiness to get by. 

Recently I watched a TedTalk ( by Ericka Alston, a recovered crack cocaine addict. No one told her it was possible to truly live without drugs, instead they hid their money and walked a little faster in order to avoid her. The biggest message that I received during her presentation is that the people with these addictions are not all helpless and hopeless causes. All of them were once people living lives just like us. Some of them simply aren’t given the tools to know that they can choose a separate path in life towards progress. 

If there is one thing I have learned in life, it is that nothing really ever goes as planned. Everyone has a story and a valuable lesson to learn from. You could learn just as much from a successful person as you could from a homeless person. If they are surviving off of the bare minimum you know they have at least enough smarts to get by. So, anyways, I have been wanting to make friends with a homeless person for a little while now and really listen to their story. A few weeks ago, I brought my car around to help a women out with some food and as I was walking away she started sharing her story with me. That night I sat down next to her on the cold sidewalk to hear what she had to say, as people walked by with looks of confusion and disgust, wondering what a girl like me was doing sitting next to “people like them”.

Guess what? She was gang raped and drugged, by people she knew and trusted. She woke up on the hard pavement with her face against bricks and her bag nowhere to be found. Her pantyhose were ripped and the bottom of her pants were worn down from rubbing against the ground. She was so drugged she didn’t remember it, but she woke up to it. They glued her hair and to this day she still hides it. Both of her parents are dead, one sister had committed suicide and the other has a successful business in Rhode Island. She still cannot bare to tell her sister what has happened to her, so here she lives struggling to get by.

She gives all her praise to God for surviving all of the things that she has endured while being homeless. She told me a story of her telling a man that if God could rise those from the living dead, then He could protect his little girl that was about to go through brain surgery. Along with this little girl, she too is thriving. They both are making the best out of the battles they were given.

This is just one of the many stories that are out there, but do you know how many people are quick to judge based off of what they first see? People are able to hide behind a lot of stuff, including a home in hopes of preserving an image they uphold, yet homeless people have no choice but to be exposed. Beyond this, our preconceived judgements can impact a person more than we believe. Does someone that does not have a home not deserve as much of a chance as we do? Do we not think there are reasons and explanations behind their situations that we are so quick to judge? But how many of us think to stop and ask?



By Katelyn Ohashi

Have you ever been stuck at a fork in the road, where one decision could potentially dictate the rest of your future? You sat there weighing out every possible outcome of each path, until you finally determined the route that would benefit you the most.

Choice is one of our greatest luxuries in life. We can determine our future and define ourselves with the choices we make. However, what we fail to even consider a majority of the time are the choices that we make on a daily basis. These choices have a greater impact than any of the difficult decisions we make because these daily preferences have subconsciously became habits. The way we decide to respond to our disappointments, how we learn from our mistakes, how we choose to spend our free time, all the way to what we decide to eat. We fail to recognize that in the long run these choices can determine, not only our future but our present, just as much as any milestone we encounter.

We choose to complain about the things we have control over and have the opportunity to create different outcomes on. How many of you find yourself making excuses for the way you respond to things, for instance, “I’m this way because my parents raised me like this” or “I’ve always been like this, so I can’t change now”? These may be “valid” reasons or explanations, but in reality they are excuses we choose to accept. They are “outs” restraining us from our greatness. Choices are blessings that run deeper than we tend to acknowledge.

My future is dependent on the decisions I make every day in order to enlighten my life and the world around me. Life is a choice and we have the ability to decide today to choose a better life to live.