Marielle TerHart remembers skiing with joy. She grew up near the Canadian Rockies where her winters were spent on the powdery slopes of the Nakiska, Norquay, and Lake Louise ski areas. Her family had a home in Fernie, British Columbia, and she visited Mt. Hood in the summertime. The avid powder junkie was a certified ski instructor and downhill ski racer.
In 2010, however, she was forced to quit after her fifth contact sport concussion. After being rendered inactive for 12 months, she discovered she could no longer do the thing that once brought her so much bliss.
It wasn’t because she was injured, however. Marielle’s arms and legs still worked fine and her body boasted a full range of motion. According to the former ski racer, it was something else—something unexpected—that made her give up the sport she loved so much.
In her own words: she’d become too fat.
A year without exercise, combined with the standard changes of a 20-something’s body, had caused her to gain weight. Quite simply, she could no longer fit into ski clothes—although it wasn’t for lack of trying. She’d scoured apparel racks at all the major outdoor retailers. She’d combed through smaller boutiques. She’d looked online.
But at size 16—approximately two sizes smaller than the average American woman
—she was too large to find clothing that could keep her warm and protected on the mountain. Basic snow gear was out of her reach and, on top of that, it was emotionally draining. At one point, she remembers crying in a dressing room.
“It is deeply shameful to have friends that you used to ski with say, ‘Hey, we should go skiing’ and for you to not know how to tell them, ‘I physically can't find the apparel to do this activity anymore.’
“When it’s your body that’s the reason you can’t participate, it is inherently personal. It feels and cuts deeper.”