There's an ideal skater type; coaches sigh and flutter their eyelashes when these kids walk in-- they are naturally slender, look taller than they are, with a low center of gravity and short legs. If their legs are slightly bowed, even better. Sasha Cohen is the perfect example; Yu Na is another one-- they look so tall and slender, but when you see them in person you can't believe how tiny they are. Evan Lysacek and Carolina Kostner are unusual in that they are tall with long legs. As Johnny Weir once remarked, he admired Lysacek because it's really hard to jump "when you're 13 feet tall."
We like the little fireplugs with the power thighs, too. I call them mini-mights. Think Tonya Harding (well, the skating and body type anyway).
And gee, they never seem to wear glasses.
Coaches do talk about your children's looks. We're perfectly awful about it. Sometimes in admiration, sometimes mean, sometimes with a wistful "too bad he doesn't (get contacts, lose weight, tuck in his shirt, come to the rink without his mother...)."
But I hear worse stories, naturally, of the children who are told that they can't be skaters unless they lose weight, or get contacts, or wear their hair a certain way, or that they can't be skaters at all because they are knock-kneed, or slope shouldered, or some other physical attribute completely beyond their control.
So what's the truth, can anyone be a skater?
In a word, yes.
However (you knew there was a however).
Certain body types and morphological issues will limit your "career"-- if you are really overweight (medically overweight, I'm not talking about what we used to call chubby kids who slim down when they hit puberty), then the higher level jumps will be hard. You're just fighting gravity too much, and your flesh will literally be in your way. There is a limit to how hard a fat person can pull in, or how low they can get for a sit spin. (Sorry).
Glasses will fly off your face on a layback or a triple jump. You can get a strap--common in other sports--but because in figure skating presentation is also important, this is just not going to happen. Canadian champion and Olympic bronze medalist Joannie Rochette actually got eye surgery to correct her bad vision because glasses were out and she couldn't handle contacts.
On the other hand, Joannie Rochette is a multiple international medalist, so this kind of step makes sense for her. Your child is just taking Preliminary Moves. So here's the low down:
Yes you can skate in glasses. If your child can handle contacts, fine, but this should be under the consultation of a medical professional, not a skating coach whose self-esteem is wounded by an "ugly" child in glasses. You can take ALL the moves tests in glasses. There is nothing in any Moves level that would be difficult in glasses.
Yes, you can do low-level competitions in glasses. Until you are doing lay backs and double jumps, you are not going to notice them. If they make the skater nervous, get a strap and arrange hair to disguise it. Or not. Make the nerdy look the kid's signature.
There is a very talented obese child at my rink. Yes, there is an upper limit right now to the skills she could acquire, and she cannot compete at a national level with the weight; for one thing training at that level she would simply lose it. But even with the weight there is an axel and probably a couple of doubles in her future. I have seen many many overweight children test at the lower levels without any penalty from the judges.
Her mother knows she is overweight. She doesn't need the coach to tell her. She especially doesn't need the coach to refuse to let her test because the coach disapproves of her weight. Testing is about the quality of the skills, not what the skater looks like. Judges, especially in the lower and recreational levels, understand this. Judges in testing situations are not allowed to take a child's appearance into account, unless it is interfering with the quality of the skills.
Now, if you go to the coach and say that you want her to be nationally competitive, then the coach has a right, even an obligation to tell you what that will take, including losing weight. No child should be on a diet regimen unless they are under medical supervision.
Not classically pretty
It's a sport not a beauty pageant. The next coach I hear who says "she'd be great if she would get a nose job" is going to get her own nose broken. I'm sorry, I have difficulty focusing on a skater's nose when they're spinning at 40 revolutions a second. This attitude is also responsible for generations of black and brown kids who don't even try because they figure they'd be penalized for their skin color. This, thank god, is starting to change.
Like the overweight ones, the tall ones have greater difficulty. Even when they're very thin, they simply have more weight to heft off the ice. The center of gravity is necessarily higher. But just as they do not have trouble figuring out how to handle stairs when they are this tall, they also figure out skating.
Two words-Rachael Flatt.
Here's the low down--coaches love kids who are easy to teach, we're only human. Medical and morphological issues make kids hard to teach. A competitive coach may not want to be bothered with a skater whom she judges has no shot. And you know what, with this shallow coach the kid doesn't have a shot. I'm also extremely bothered by the prognosticating-- how they heck does any coach know that some kid who wears glasses at the age of 8 or 10 can't ever be nationally competitive because of this? In this culture, how dare a coach hold a child back because she doesn't conform to some ideal? Soviet Russia, okay. Middle class West? Please.