Today I was at a loss of what to write about for the female post. I’ve written about how society negatively affects the body image of women and how lifting can help modify it. I’ve written about how the gals who do lift can set a good example to try and encourage non-lifting women to try it out — or get their friends in the gym period. I’ve written about how guys can convince the lady friends in their lives to train and explain why “doing cardio” is futile, irrelevant, and inefficient. I’ve written about programs, developing a pull-up, correcting mechanics, improving muscle imbalances, and what to do if a girl cries in training.
One thing that I haven’t written about — something that I’ve made it a point to avoid — is how I think publicizing overtly fat female athletes does more to hurt their sport and athletics than to help it. The first person that comes to mind is Olympian Holly Mangold (right).
I don’t know Holly Mangold. I’m the first to say that the picture I chose for the post couldn’t be worse, but this is what girls of all ages see. I’ve seen this exact picture all over the internet mocking Holly, weightlifters, lifters, as well as being used as in “fat girl memes”. Most women don’t see this picture as someone who is near the pinnacle of lifting, but someone who looks grotesque. Lifting already has a bad enough stigma, but then you attach this face to it and I can hear the teenage girls (who actually exercise) run to the celebrity waif trainers.
To make matters worse, MTV — the shittiest network ever — did a special on her over a year ago (I’d link it but I refuse to give them clicks). This solidifies the idea that “weightlifting” and “fat” are synonymous. It doesn’t matter that we know this couldn’t be farther from the truth, but it doesn’t matter what we think. What matters is that the anti-lifting dogma is only made worse. Imagine every asshole personal trainer telling their new female client, “You don’t want to lift; did you see that big girl at the Olympics? Do you want to look like her?”
Sure, Holly has athletically accomplished more in four years of a sport that everyone — including me — could only dream about; she qualified for the Olympics and placed 10th in the world. But my focus is on the big picture. Yes, I think Holly is abhorrently fat. No, I don’t think she should die because of it. No, I don’t want her feelings to be hurt, but I also don’t care about her feelings. She’s an Olympian now, and that means she’s been awarded with the fact that she is a role model whether she likes it or not. Her physique is not necessary for her performance and she will do more harm than good to the sport of weightlifting — and lifting in general — by failing to do something about it.
This isn’t just my opinion; it’s how society works. We are all judgmental assholes. We judge personality on outward appearance. There’s so much sensory and data input in our lives that we wouldn’t be able to function if we didn’t do this. If anything, it’s a necessarily selected trait in order to function and survive in civilization. Besides, you can’t look me in the eye and tell me that a 17-year-old girl is not going to have a negative view of female weightlifting after watching Holly’s MTV special. Ptsh, you couldn’t even truthfully tell me that the teenage girl would have a neutral view of it. If I’m wrong about society, I’m definitely not wrong about a shallow air head who watches reality TV.
The good news is that it’s not like Holly can’t do anything about it. She’s an Olympian. She should have the capacity to set her mind to a goal, work towards it, and achieve it. She has the ability to tighten her diet and training regime and come into the 2016 games looking svelte and hitting PRs. It’s not like I expect her to compete as a 75kg/165lb lifter (the second heaviest female weight class), but there’s no reason she needs to weigh 165kgs/363lbs. And if she fails to do this again (she’s tried in the past), then she fails female weightlifting, exacerbates the image of female lifting, and further poisons the misconception of female body type and legitimate training methods. I’m rooting for Holly Mangold, but it’s solely on her plate.
+1 to all of this. I saw the MTV special. I guess I should be ashamed to admit this, but I saw the preview for it so I DVRed it so I wouldn’t miss it. Everyone can imagine what happens on the episode wtihout watching int. No one needs to watch it, so don’t.
I also give a -1 to super heavy weight male lifters who are overly fat. There’s no reason for it. I still respect all top athletes immensely, but I have much more respect for top athletes that are actually, you know…athletic.
Another +1, and from a female who lifts and is not overweight.
Good post, but this does make me wonder about the state of weightlifting, specifically in regards to the super-heavyweight divisions for both males and females. Almost universally, those who excel in these weight classes are borderline morbidly obese. Look at Reza. Look at Zhou Lulu. Both are World Record Holders in their respective classes, and both are unquestionably obese. How many truly “jacked” supers are there, really? I can’t think of any females who fall under this category for obvious reasons (1/10th the testosterone, yada yada) but even for males, the only two who immediately spring to mind are Koklyaev and Chigishev, neither of whom had all that much success on the international stage, at least in relation to their contemporaries.
Basically what I’m getting at is, can’t it be argued people like Mangold are sacrificing their future health and wellness for results now? Isn’t it possible Mangold believes she performs better at a heavier weight, and to hell with her HDL count?
Just playing Devil’s Advocate, but curious to hear some thoughts.
I was watching Strong! a couple of days ago (the documentary about Cheryl Haworth), and Haworth said pretty much just that — she believes her extra weight helps her perform better, and she was concerned about her long-term health, and wanted to drop the weight once she stopped lifting.
Zhou is 133kg and I believe the Russian girl is 125ish kg? This is a far cry from 165.
Cheryl was only 128kg I believe?
Empirically it looks like 125-135 is kind of the zone for superheavy females.
Also, to address your point about jacked super men (note that this was in the time of LUDICROUS drug use, instead of moderate use like we have today) Kurlovich was about 125 and jacked and was possibly the strongest guy ever (got the most weight overhead ever in a meet, but 3 reds). Taranenko and Pisarenko were also quite lean for their size.
Kasharina is around 100kg I believe. She is noticeably not as huge as Zhou or Jang, though I’m wont to say “smaller”.
Prepare to be flamed as hell here and on FB, Justin.
But bare in mind a lot of the SHW lifters are fat as fuck. It’s their cop up. I’m a SHW so I can be fat. As long as I lift big weights it’s cool.
And it’s not just WLing. Plenty of other sports were they can be fat and athletic. Sumo, American Football, Wrestling.
How about powerlifting? I would wager there’s at least 50 so-called “powerlifters” in my gym who are fat as shit. Westside barbell t-shirt, Chuck Taylors, shaved head, a beard and a 40″ inch waistline gets you into the club.
Yeah, Forgot about it but I think posted PLers on the FB comments.
Tamara Cohen just busted a fucking gasket reading this.
I’m refraining from blowing a gasket. I gave Justin a meet report today with a video of four female weightlifters competing – 48 kg, 58 kg, 63 kg, and 75 kg – none of whom were scared away from weightlifting due to Holley and two of who qualified for the American Open this weekend. This is his shit storm, not mine. Plus, I have met Holley, and while I’ve never discussed her weight with her, she isn’t someone who became fat in order to be a weightlifter. She is someone who was heavy all of her life, and let’s be honest. Weightlifting is one of the few sports that an overweight female can actually excel at. Just like my 48 kg lifter. How many sports can a 5’1, 105 lb female play competitively? Not many.
I agree. But I think Holley is more than just an odd body type trying to find a sport to compete in at this point. She is an olympian. This argument might be quite a bit different if she was pulling ungodly records but she finished tenth and heaviest in her weight class. Clearly some room for improvement somewhere.
I am a big time mangold supporter but I think I might be taking a middle of the road approach with this. I want her to get better at her sport.
But that wasn’t the main point of the post. The post was arguing that SHW female lifters, like Holley Mangold, are actually perpetuating harm because they discourage girls and women from strength training. Which, frankly, is ludicrous and insulting.
“Which, frankly, is ludicrous and insulting.”
Interesting post Justin sire. I used to be a huge fan of the fatty boom batties for super heavy weights (still kind of am), but lately have been more leaning toward the 77 and 85s, the class my friends and I compete in. I agree with your point that she is a large woman and it appears that the added lbs don’t help her to do any better but what would you say if she (like lulu and rezazedeh) was winning gold? Or setting records?
oh my, your eating and size puns are killing ,me here, Justin
Okay so when Holly first claimed the second spot to the Olympics (and keep in mind, folks, she EARNED that, fair and square), my first reaction was “too big. She is TOO big.” I was not alone with this reaction. I still feel that way. Also, I feel that if you go to the Olympics you should be able to clean & jerk your body weight, at least, but that’s just my opinion.
Let’s look at who claimed the #1 spot for the females: Sarah Robles. Another SHW, who weighed in at 125kg, not 163kg, and lifted a lot more. She also has a blog, and in it she took the time to discuss the matter of size. Check it out. http://prettystrongblog.blogspot.com/2012/06/does-size-health.html
Totally want to second the motion that you should at least be able to C+J your body weight if you’re in the Olympics
I hadn’t read anything about Holly before seeing her at the olympics. When she walked out my first thought was “holy fuck she’s going to be able to move a huge amount of weight”. When she couldn’t make body weight I was just disappointed. Congrats to her for making the olympics, that’s an accomplishment that I will never be able to do, but I completely agree with you, if you’re competing at the top level of the sport you should be able to move your own body weight.
also your comment about the picture made me fucking lol so hard.
The numbers here are pretty outrageous … 363lbs! I looked it up, and her brother is listed at 306, which makes sense. If he were 363, his form would not allow him to function in the NFL (okay, maybe, since he’s a center). But let’s say she drops 100 lbs AND all her lifts go up, picks up bronze in 2016. She’s a great athlete, but still weighs 250 lbs. Teenage girls will see no difference whatsoever. To influence them, you need small, cute weightlifters like Zoe Smith (GBR) to get publicity. The Lolo Jones of weightlifting if you will.
Yeah the fact she weighs more than her brother always blooooooows my mind.
You’ve posted a few times in the past about how you respect jacked males lifters more than big fat fatties. Every time I’m all like “yup” with no questions asked. But then on this post my first reaction was “Oh no he dih int!”
God danged double standards.
Good luck with your shitstorm, sir.
As a fat chick (and a fat chick who has *always* been chubby-to-fat since childhood), I got into weightlifting because I could see successful women who were my size or bigger. That pretty much doesn’t exist in any other sport. So, while I detested the idea of running regularly, I’ve been performing strength training, in one form or another, for the last six years or so, since college. So, no, you’re probably not going to win over skinny teenage girls by showing them pictures of Holly Mangold or Sarah Robles, you may win over some of those chubby teenage girls. And, when those girls are dealing with a culture that says that women of their body shape are always sedentary, it’s undoubtedly a win to get them into the gym and believing that they can be active and strong.
^^ this is a great comment, Sister Shoshie.
This is a relevant comment.
However, Holley is way beyond chubby or fat. She does not have to be over 300lbs to be a role model for fat or chubby girls
For lots and lots of people the real life choice is not between “fat and active vs. thin and active”. The choice is between “fat and active vs. fat and sedentary”. And there’s a fair bit of evidence that shows “fat and active” is the way better of those two options. http://www.bigfatblog.com/study-fat-people-benefit-most-healthy-habits
Well put Soshie
Amen. I never comment on the fat-themed posts because as much as I love you assholes, disagreement on this topic never goes anywhere here. But I feel obligated to register a dissenting opinion today. I do not believe that there is anything intrinsically wrong with being fat. I also believe that fat people can be healthy, and that they are beautiful and worthy of as much love, respect, and kindness as anyone else.
Intrinsically, fat in females CAN store the healthy Omega 3’s that make their babies smart. Fat that came from stuffing bread and cake into your gullet is not likely healthy, no matter what the activity levels.
Like everything, devil is in the detail. Its far more complicated. Not resigning oneself to being overweight = respect.
Its what you do with what you got.
Good argument, bro.
yes! agree wholeheartedly.
Her twitter account made me lol:
HolleyMangold @HolleyMangold Who doesn’t love cardio #me #runningsucks
HolleyMangold @HolleyMangold I do the 400 in the same time that people run the mile … And in no way is that depressing
Well, it’s true that you might get the fatties doing something. And something is better than nothing. And then like a gateway drug, maybe they look at their diet at some point and think ho-ho’s, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome aren’t all they are cracked up to be.
Otoh, I’m also of a mindset that hardcore athletics is quite often a ticking time bomb on the body. It’s not something that can really be done for longevity in the long haul. So fuck it, go for broke.
On the one hand, Sarah or Holly could probably never be 75’s. So it’s not that issue of I’m a weight class higher than I should be because I don’t give a damn.
Will it help get other girls into Weightlifting in the 69s and below? Not likely.
stupid haircut=not an athlete
they should subtract points for not being fat in eating competitions
And that 200 lb russian sumo wrestler. An embarrassment to his sport.
How badly are you getting flamed for this?
I’ve always thought it was interesting that as you get more competitive in a sport, you typically leave the bounds of ‘normal’ and sometimes, frequently I would argue, sacrifice long-term health for sport-specific gains. I think Holley must know this & her weight was a decision. We can argue for or against it all day, but I would rather talk with her and her coach. I was shocked when I saw her and several other lifters at the Olympics, my husband thought many of them were excessively overweight. I figured that their weight was as well planned as their lifts? Is it still hard on her body (and image), yes. But I will probably never reach a competitive level where I would choose to submit myself to frequent concussions, sprains/breaks, illicit drugs & alter my BMI drastically. I am more concerned for the other 70 million Obese Americans whom are that way for lack of control who might justify themselves with her image, not the skinny ‘cardio bunnies’ who were borderline considering weightlifting. haha.
zombieland rule #1: fatties are the first to go.
This segment on Holley is pretty cool:
I think the point above about attracting heavier girls to ANY sport is a valid reason to support an athlete like Holley, in so much as that is a positive. However, I MORE agree with Justin’s point that for every 1 fat girl who would otherwise be sedentary, there are 5 average weight girls that won’t touch real weights out of ignorance and at least one great female athlete who will refuse strength sports because of a fear of becoming a Holley. Thusly, any benefit Holley may serve as a positive role model (and I acknowledge that she does!) is unfortunately VASTLY outweighed by the damage she does to the broader female populace who runs away from Weightlifting in droves.
It’s ridiculous to suggest that Holley Mangold makes weightlifting look undesirable to women when you have women dominating the world stage with five o’clock shadows and voices deeper than Barry White.
mangold is rather large, but this comment is 100% true. All of the other women look and are juiced to the gills (with the exception of Christine Girard). Just look at how deep their voices are, five o’clock shadows, oh yeah and that acne that stops mid bicep and pours all down their backs. kudos. Oh yeah, there is something intrinsically wrong with being fat. All things equal, it is not ok to be fat
Really? Did you follow his link where it said “couldn’t be farther from the truth”?
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First I am not overly concerned with MTV and their ability to make this “sexy” for the younger generation because if that is the case olympic weightlifting is in trouble (oh wait it already is), or am I concerned with anybody that watches that show and decides that weightlifting isn’t for them because most likely it wasn’t. They probably thought it had something to do with the G in GTL. IMO, It is a cultural/pride issue more than anything. Americans (the overwhelming majority) don’t take pride in Oly lifting, even every 4 years doesn’t really put a blip on the radar because we have 3 athletes competing that get relatively no facetime. No glory, in Turkey you are national hero, here you end up grinding out a 9-5. If you are top notch maybe you go on a circuit of crossfit gyms.
That diatribe being said, what would concern me if I was Holley or Holley’s coach is the question, “does her weight ultimately affect her performance?” if other top athletes in her weight class are close to her weight and performing then okay go for it but if she loses 30 lbs and increases her total X amount then I would say it would be worth it to take a look at.
She was the heaviest at the Olympics by quite a lot. The bronze medalist, from I think Armenia, was very light compared to her competitors.
Yeah, KHURSHUDYAN Hripsime from Armenia was only 196lbs. Zhou Lulu who won the gold was 293lbs. So there is a big range of bodyweights.
That is a 70lbs difference from the gold medal and 170lbs from bronze. I can’t see losing weight as a negative here in regards to performance, I would assume what strength she lost with the body weight loss would be made up with the ability to accelerate better.
So when the girl your dating or a female friend says something like “man, Holly is stupid strong but i’d never want to look like that” just point them in the direction of any of the numerous lighter and more svelte women lifters and be done with it.
Pop culture appears to have a pathological preference for making people weak, or more directly discouraging people from being strong. Showcasing an obviously obese woman, despite her Olympian status, is their way of saying “weightlifting makes you fat and you shouldn’t do it.”
Hey Justin. Maybe you aren’t even reading this anymore, but I still feel compelled to share with you the many problems in this post. First and foremost, the number of MEN who comment on WOMEN in sports/weightlifting is astounding. I understand that this is partially a numbers game. There aren’t many women in weightlifting and if you want to learn, you will probably learn from a dude. That’s fine, I have a great OLY coach who is a man.
Though I would love to spend this post telling you about the awesome people I know who teach weightlifting to men and women of all shapes and abilites, I will instead let you know what is so disturbing about this post.
If you want to be an ambassador for a sport, as you apparently want to be, it would behoove you to not act like a total dip shit. Now, let me be clear. When I got into weightlifting, largely through Crossfit, one of the biggest reasons I stuck with it was because, instead of feeling judged, I felt encouraged and supported.
The women I saw lifting were strong, and they were (and are) of a variety of sizes, shapes and abilities. If you so desperately want to attract young women to this sport, perhaps you should actually practice what you preach and not vehemently judge a woman in the sport, or really, judge a woman (or anyone) at all. How much do you actually know about Hollie’s health stats? Her life or her weightlifting practice? For that matter, how much do you know about what it is like to be a 17 year old girl who watches MTV?
If you want to encourage people to better health and to be competitive in a sport, maybe you should stop hating people who are fat and instead offer them an opportunity to change their health and take control of their lives. I think if you focused less on Hollie and her body shape and more on your practice of weight lifting and coaching and being a positive role model and supporter of women (and men) who seek a healthy life style, you would save yourself a lot of energy.
Also, you can’t honestly tell me that you don’t know A WOMAN who could write the ‘females’ portion of this blog. Stop commenting on a social group about which, in all honesty, you appear to know nothing about.
how about you write the monday posts?
I’d be happy to, though as a relatively novice lifter, I’m entirely sure I’m qualified. I do, however, now what it is like to be a 17 year old girl. And I have to say that the reason I was one of those ‘air headed’ girls who ran to the cardio machine was, on some level, because of posts like this one.
I agree that obesity is a terrible epidemic in this country. I don’t even think it is unreasonable to ask “can you be fat AND be fit?” as a few others on this site have pointed out. I agree that Holley’s body type sends some confusing messages about what it means to be healthy and fit.
I do think the tone of the post was unneccesarily mean-spirited. And clearly the shame tactic for weightloss in this country has generally failed, so maybe let’s try something else.
Sorry I meant to say: I’m not entirely sure I am qualified.
Men who say they understand women are possibly liars, but more probably fools.
Women who say they understand women are most definitely liars.
I love apalchiswola’s comment.
Slow clap to ole2007.
Probably helps to read the article without emotion.
A morbidly obese woman is setting a poor example for the sport.
Justin is calling it what it is. A POOR EXAMPLE FOR THE SPORT.
Many guys here want to hear, from a guy, ways to train the women in their lives including everything that entails, like perhaps, the usual rejection “I might lift weights but I dont want to look like that”….
I look forward to reading your blog of awesome.
I think it is reasonable for Justin to comment on what it is like for a man to coach women. I do not think it is reasonable for him to assume he understands the innerworkings of the minds of women, particularly teenage ones.
FTA: “It’s not like I expect her to compete as a 75kg/165lb lifter (the second heaviest female weight class), but there’s no reason she needs to weigh 165kgs/363lbs.”
Justin isn’t saying she needs to diet down and get to sub 20% bodyfat before he will ever respect her.
This isn’t an article about female super heavies. This is an article about one who made the national team and is now an ambassador for our sport. Did you see him bashing Robles? Did you see him bashing Cheryl Haworth? Both of these women are just under 300 lbs and coincidentally stronger than Holley with better international results.
I realize she is much younger so the above statement isnt 100% fair, but I think I tried to make the point earlier that the evidence appears to support 125-135 being a rough range of optimal bodyweight for a female superheavy.
“How much do you actually know about Holley’s health stats? ”
We don’t know anything about her various health stats. We probably won’t ever know what her cholesterol, LDL density, hba1c, etc, etc are because she has no reason to ever release that info. But if you had to place money on which end of the spectrum they were all on, which way would you go?
Your post had a fair number of ad hominem attacks in it. (“…it would behoove you to not act like a total dip shit.”, “Stop commenting on a social group about which, in all honesty, you appear to know nothing about.”) Justin has done a lot to encourage both healthy lifestyle and healthy body images in men and women with this site. I feel like Justin is miles ahead of most standard American dbag males in terms of wanting women to lift/look like real women. The entire point of this article is to point out how one of our 2 female Olympic team members perpetuates a negative stereotype about weightlifters and might adversely affect participation. He could just be a douchebag and write about how only dudes should lift and eat meat and that women should run and any woman that isnt 5 lbs under anorexic is bulky and ugly.
I have no idea who you are, ole2007, but I didn’t find your comment intellectually honest, despite the fact that it was well written for the most part. I think you need to decide if Justin was acting like a “dip shit” when he wrote this post because he was saying things that were either untrue or hurtful for the sake of being hurtful, or if you are just angry that a male called a female overweight.
All of this being said, Holley is very strong and I would love nothing more than for her to bring home a gold medal in 2016. If she stays above 350 and wins the gold then all’s well that ends well, right?
lol SURPRISE! i wrote the comment you are responding to as a troll
don’t act like you’re not impressed
Sounds like too much effort for you to write such a long post. Go kill yourself.
hey man cmon let’s hang out we can go to a discotek
mind = blown
What many of you don’t understand is that conflicts of ideals like these are not black and white. The bad guys don’t fight fair and if we are expected to produce results, we as a community cannot tie our own hands with rules.
We also have to think of the long-term strategy here. What is our ultimate goal? To make lifting a good thing. To remove any stigma that may be associated with strenuous lifting of heavy weights. To move away from the body image issues associated with lifting weights as an activity, and as a community.
We can’t think that we can accomplish this within a small time-frame. This will be a gradual process. We are trying to win hearts and minds, and when hearts and minds are stubborn, we need time. And we need to take baby steps in order to do so. Sometimes this means moving towards a slightly lesser evil, as opposed to not compromising in what we believe in. Do we all agree that obesity is – generally speaking – a bad thing? Do we all agree that many people associate lifting weights with a “bulky” body image? Do we all agree that we need to move lifting weights away from that idea?
We need to understand that sometimes, sacrifices will have to be made in the short-term to reach our ultimate goal.
That’s where people like Justin come in.
When MACV-SOG operated in supposedly “neutral” countries during Vietnam, they were definitely doing illegal things. But so were the Viet Cong that our Special Forces and CIA guys were killing. If we didn’t have a group of people willing to do bad things in order to beat the bad guys, we would have lost a lot of guys because we kept our hands tied.
Sometimes, the good guys need to operate in the dark side. It’s probably good that people condemn those actions. It preserves the innocence and the goodness of the group – but there will always be good men who step forward to do the right thing, even if the rest of the world wants to hang them out to dry for doing it because it’s unfair or insensitive.
There will always be guys operating in the shadows for the cause of good. They will get their hands dirty, and if they are caught, they and their actions will be completely disavowed. And that’s the way it’s always going to be. These people won’t get recognition, and they don’t ask for it. They believe in doing whatever it takes to make a better tomorrow.
Sometimes Justin will operate in the shadows. Some will understand that – in the end – it’s for a greater good. Others will slander and decry him for it.
But what the question comes down to is – does it help the end goal? Is it ultimately going to take us to doing the right thing?
It is naive to think that we can do this without getting our hands dirty. This isn’t a game. This is life. It can get filthy. It’s fine that others don’t agree with how things are done – but they’re not the ones driving the operation.
Justin’s article just got compared to the Phoenix Program. This discussion has officially jumped the shark.
I’ll be elsewhere, thinking about Maria De La Puente
Holy shit, we’re going to war, marching behind Gen Randy The Snake and Col. Gary Horowitz!
I thought the article was strangely worded.
I don’t even think the negative image aspects of weightlifting are limited to women.
People are convinced that squatting, deadlifting and bench pressing will cause you to look like Eric Spoto. It’s obviously natural that the people slugging the highest weights possible in the highest weightclass are going to be pudgy. This is because the body loves to grow in a surplus.
The problems not that these people exist, they shouldnt be held accountable for being the best weightlifter they can be.
The problem is the adoration they receive in the weightlifting community compared to the lower weightclasses. Obviously these big chunky women are the greatest lifters out there, but most women aren’t that big, even in weightlifting, its just that weightlifters don’t care about them.
ok, I pretty much said the same things as you but worded differently. I need to read comments more slowly.
Great minds think alike?
This post doesn’t have anything to do with women. This post is about having an unlimited top weight class in iron sports where increased weight helps performance a lot more than it harms. Obviously this is going to lead to fatties being successful. And while perhaps it’s a bigger deterrent to women, it’s a deterrent to men too. Plenty of men nowadays say the stereotypical things about lifting – ‘I just want to be toned, I don’t want to get too big’.
Maybe Holly gets more than her fair share of media coverage. I don’t live in America so I don’t see much of it. But I like the idea that she’s showing you can be fat and still active. Some parts of the media who have no clue about weightlifting, will preferentially show the SHWs because they are lifting the most absolute weight and that will be more impressive to the viewer at home.
Olympic weightlifting gets almost no media coverage in America
Unfortunately, there’s so little media coverage of weightlfting, that the unusual events and people in the sport are what’s going to get the most column inches and airtime. We sure didn’t hear much of anything about the other women or men on the Olympic team, regardless of weight class. ‘Fit athletes do okay in competition’ is a less compelling lead than ‘Fat woman wins competition.’ And that’s almost certainly because in the public’s perception, an obese woman exercising is apparently as rare as a dog who speaks. An obese woman in the Olympics is as rare as a dog who speaks Norwegian. If you’re the sports editor, which story do you run?
of course, one then is inclined to blame the media, and not Holley. It’s their fault that the general public has only a foggy idea that there are lighter weight classes.
But we also expect sports people to be role models and responsible in some ways, which is a whole nother can of worms.
I agree with you that Holley Mangold is very fat and could improve body composition since her mass isn’t all muscle or “big boned” but I think that this article is a moot point since girls who want to train aren’t afraid of being fat; they are afraid of “looking manly.” That is the real enemy (which you are already written about extensively) since the media pounds that into the female demographic every day that they should do only cardio and lift light weights to “tone.”
You write about how publicizing fat female athletes hurt their sports but other than Holley Mangold’s MTV spot, I have not seen anything or heard about any other obese female athletes in any other sports. There isn’t a lot or any current publicity with obese female athletes. I can look you in the eye and tell you that a 17-year-old girl IS going to have a negative view of female weightlifting after watching Holley’s MTV special, however, that 17-year-old girl does now know that Olympic weightlifting exists. If that 17-year-old girl is struggling with weight and body image, like others have posted, maybe she will be inspired that there are sports out there that don’t fit into the typical “fit” body type. She could be the next superheavyweight Olympic competitor for Team USA years in the making. The more people are exposed to Olympic weightlifting and barbell sports in general than I am generally supportive of it.
Why are you bringing aesthetics into weightlifting? The sport is about who lifts the most, not what they look like doing it. If someone was complaining about Reza being as big around as he was tall, most people here would say, “So? He wasn’t a figure competitor, he was a weightlifter.”
Reza is as big around as he is tall.
Indeed he was, as well as one of the greatest weightlifters of all time. All I’m saying is if aesthetics are important to you, then that’s awesome, train for that. But don’t put your standards on people who are training for something different. Especially when the standard that they are training for is what the sport of weightlifting is actually about.
Well, that pretty much went exactly as you predicted.
Really though, is there a performance-related justification for being that size? Strongman competitors also tip the scales at 300+, but they rarely look like fat slobs.
Improved leverages due to the extra body mass.
I’m not a weightlifter, but I compete in strongman. Strongman competition requires a different kind of conditioning and mobility than weightlifting.
Ever tried to get stronger on a diet?
Did not happen.
Ever tried to get stronger eating a lot of cheeseburgers?
I bet that happened.
Another thing I’m curious about double standard wise. When Justin criticizes extremely thin female celebrities why isn’t there this anger? They are excelling at their chosen profession, so isn’t it totally fine for them to 800 calories a day and be rail thin?
I think Justin has always wanted to push for people to be strong AND healthy, whether he is aiming that at weak and frail men and women or obese and strong men and women.
because the truth is unless you starve yourself you can’t be that thin…so because you can’t be that thin you are fine with criticizing it..it give you a way out. on the other hand it’s pretty easy to be fat…so you don’t want to criticize something you either ARE already or might just well be someday, you want to make it look like it’s perfectly acceptable.
maybe that sounds dickish. but 95% of us are thinking it. I used to be 260lbs at 5’6”. of course i criticized skinny people for being too skinny.
you’re right though mr. sousa. regardless, Justin wants people to CARE about their bodies not JUST about athleticism. This isn’t the 70s big it used to be and maybe the type of people who loved Matt Reynolds latest SS article might think thats a bad thing (as they eat ten pizzas and gain 50lbs of fat to increase their bench 5lbs) but the “evolved” 70s big is about strength, health, and barbell awareness.
Because they are held up as examples of beauty and Holley is not, she is an example of strength at best, but just obesity in many references to her. No-one will intentionally imitate her, plenty of people are trying to imitate the rail-thin.
Jamie Lewis (CNP, world-class powerlifter) wrote this piece last year. I bit more brash, but segues a bit as well. Very NSFW blog if you’re not already familiar with it, but he’s got some good stuff in there, even if the kid gloves were thrown in the fireplace ages ago. http://chaosandpain.blogspot.com/2011/08/what-exactly-is-ideal-to-cut-or-not-to.html
That article rocks so hard.
i tried to find that article to post it. nice work. very relevant.
This link gave me a boner:
How did I miss this before???
Why should Holley (note: correct spelling) be obligated to cater to the mindset of MTV-watching teenagers in her pursuit of elite lifting and the Olympics? How ridiculous would that expectation sound if cast onto the male competitors?
I’m just going to use this as my standard response to anyone asking why Justin hasn’t posted like this about men.
Yep, I’ve read it. My point was pandering to the “tastes” of 17-year olds being marketed to from every angle. That has nothing to do with weightlifting or training for any sport, for males or females.
I gather from his view on male lifters though that he would have the same thoughts, i.e. “The sport would be better represented by jacked male lifters than fatter male lifters, as it would attract skinny guys who want to look like them.” And judging by the number of guys who drool over Klokov but couldn’t name 5 other 105kg lifters I would say he is correct.
I think justin is implying that built physically fit females would be better for 17 year olds to notice than fat blobs. Not saying whatever the fuck 17 year olds like is what they should be.
because the truth is unless Holley is holding a barbell over her head, most girls who don’t know anything about lifting are going to think shes fat and lazy….sad but true (DAH DA DA DA DANANANA)
Do you think she is happy with her body?
no i absolutely do not think she’s happy with her body
I think she has accepted that she will always be big. She seems very happy and a confident woman.
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Little known fact about Holley is that she attempted to swim while attending Ursiline College for her undergrad. I know this because I had applied to be a coach there and saw her on the roster and thought “Who the fuck is she?!”. Now, why does this matter? This matters for the same reason we all get pissed when CFers claim they are weightlifters/oly lifters. Do you think she was on the team (Div III, no cutting allowed) because she actually thought she would be a formidable swimmer (mom was an elite level swimmer in her youth)? Or was she on the team because she thought it was a joke? No respect for other sports, judging by her twitter feed she has no respect for actual conditioning, and no respect for her health. Even if she dropped 100lbs, she would still be far from the character of what you want in a role model for females.
Maybe she was on the team for other reasons…camaraderie, please her mom, free stuff that athletes get, etc. I looked through her twitter feed and I don’t think anything you posted about her not “respecting” health or conditioning is true. Maybe the one running sucks tweet but other than that she isn’t bashing other sports and posted a picture of a healthy meal of chicken, avocados, and rice. I also thought it was cool that she retweets/posts pictures of her fans and charities.