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The school agenda and fat Olympians

March 12, 2012

I am the mother of two amazing, little girls, and it broke my heart the other day when my kids came home and told me that their coach told them “If you exercise just 20 minutes every day, it will help make you not fat.”

What are our schools teaching our children? I know that the coach is simply following a plan, that it’s not personal, and it’s all mandated by the state and the nation what they have to teach (I have already yelled at him about this twice). But I do wish he would also talk about people like Holley Mangold, the 5’8″, 374 pound weightlifter who just qualified for the Olympics.

That’s right she’s death fat and going to the Olympics.

She earned a scholarship to Ursuline College, near Cleveland, and competed in track and field in the discus throw and shot put. There, her weightlifting intensified, and she left school to focus on that sport at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. To be an athlete of that level she exercises every day for at least three to four hours. But no, if you run around everyday for just 20 minutes you will lose weight, according to an elementary school coach.

What are they afraid of? If we teach our kids to work out and love a sport for the joy of movement, not health, are they afraid our kids will give up? Or are they afraid our children won’t be good little consumers who buy all the crap that the diet and beauty world is selling?

It’s still elementary school, so they aren’t starting the horrible and humiliating team sports yet, but this casual fat hatred with downright wrong data just pisses me off. He’s not calling fat people out in class, and he’s very careful when talking about it (almost uncomfortable). But it’s this constant pressure of “You have to move so you will be ‘healthy,'” and the constant, poorly-veiled propaganda that even my kids are questioning (I am a loud, fat activist who yells at weight loss commercials, so maybe I’m an influence here). I guess at least they are learning young that TV and society sometimes doesn’t have your best interests at heart, even when they think they do.

But why aren’t we hearing more about Holly Mangold? I’ve seen other Olympians already on Good Morning America showing off their sport and drumming up business for the Olympics. As the swimmers earned their place, we saw interviews.

I wish the teacher would use Holly as an example of how it doesn’t matter what your size, you can move and excel, no matter what, if you practice. It would basically be the same message, stressing the important of movement, with no shame involved. She even has a famous brother and they look alike! (We will save the inherent flaws of weight and BMI for another post, ok?)

Look how much she looks like her brother, Nick Mangold, the New York Jets’ four-time Pro Bowl center.

Hell, it took me ten different articles to find any info other than her name and that she was qualifying (thanks to the Chicago Sun-Times for printing her vitals). Half of the articles didn’t post her picture, but many did post the picture and info of her teammate, a much skinnier, though equally-talented, lifter named Sarah Robles.

Competing in the super heavyweight division, Holly won the clean-and-jerk competition by hoisting 319 pounds and was second in the two-hand snatch with a 242-pound performance.  Holly wanted to follow in her brother’s footsteps and play professional football, but knew that being female she would never get the play time at a serious football college. So she turned to shot put and began lifting weights to train for it. From there, she got into it as a sport and set her eyes on the 2016 Olympics. She went to the 2012 Olympic trials for training and exposure, and ended up winning.

It just goes to show that 20 minutes of exercise per day may not make you skinny, but train for three hours or more a day and you could become an Olympian.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. vesta44 permalink
    March 12, 2012 12:09 pm

    Great post, erylin.

    What are they afraid of? If we teach our kids to work out and love a sport for the joy of movement, not health, are they afraid our kids will give up? Or are they afraid we won’t our children won’t be good little consumers who buy all the crap that the diet and beauty world is selling?

    I think that’s exactly it. It’s gotten to the point where society says health is a moral imperative – you have to be healthy in order to be a productive member of society, in order to not be over-consuming (of everything except diets/exercise equipment/beauty products, of course), in order to be a “good” person. Failure is not an option, as far as they are concerned. Fat people are supposed to continue to try to be “healthy” (read “thin”) until the day they die, and if we say no to diets, but yes to eating as healthily as we can and exercising as best we can, well, society sees that as failure if it doesn’t make us thin (and if we don’t care that it doesn’t make us thin). Doesn’t matter how good our health is, we aren’t “healthy” because we aren’t thin, and because we aren’t thin we aren’t “moral”.

  2. March 12, 2012 12:54 pm

    something that has made me even MORE angry? This same PE teacher is using cans of Vanilla Coke as a reward system in class for being able to do skill based objectives, like juggling or uni cycling. he has never used food as rewards before. SO let me get this strait…dont be fat, but on the unit about clown skills (gogo funny fatty) they use cans of coke as rewards? /headdesk

  3. lifeonfats permalink
    March 12, 2012 5:54 pm

    Not only Coke, but Vanilla Coke, which is one of the grossest things I’ve ever tried. (No offense to those that like it because I know it has its fans, but it just wasn’t for me). I guess the teacher thinks it’s fine to drink Coke after you’ve exercised, but not just because you want a soda.

  4. March 14, 2012 12:08 am

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read our story. I am so proud of ANY olymipian (i myself was training for synchronized swimming for 3 years in the 80s/90s) Especially the ones outside of the normal “feminine” ideal of cute and pretty, or skinny and fast. Either way, you don’t have to be the perfect body type to be strong, healthy, fit and worthy. Good luck at the Olympics, and i will be watching and rooting you on in London!

  5. March 14, 2012 9:46 am

    Wow! What an incredible honor. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on Erin’s post. She has corrected the information above.

    After I’m done with all this Strong4Life stuff, I would love to do some kind of project to spread the story of you and Holley so that more PE teachers will use you as examples of being “fat” and fit (and, really, considering how much muscle mass you must have, the word “fat” seems woefully inadequate). If you’re interested, feel free to email me at atchka at hotmail. I also sent you a message through Facebook.

    Thanks again for stopping by, Sarah!


  6. March 14, 2012 2:07 pm

    The news articles I’ve read say that Holley also went to college on an athletic scholarship for track and field (discus and shot put). Are they mistaken?

    • March 14, 2012 2:39 pm

      according to usa today and chicago sun times, yes holly did go to Ursilne college in CT for track and field.

      • March 14, 2012 2:51 pm

        Hey, check out my comment above. I think there’s been some confusion in the national press.


  7. March 14, 2012 2:50 pm

    Okay, to clarify some of the confusion (or possibly make it worse), I didn’t see a reference to Holley’s scholarship on the Sun-Times article (of which I only found one, and it was quite brief). However, The Huffington Post says:

    Mangold was actually recruited by small colleges to play football, but figured if she couldn’t play with the big boys, she’d pursue something else. At first, she took a track and field scholarship at Ursuline College, an all-girls school in Pepper Pike, Ohio.

    While USA Today says:

    She earned a scholarship to Ursuline College, near Cleveland, and competed in track and field in the discus throw and shot put.

    So, HuffPo says outright that she got the track and field scholarship, while USA Today says she got a scholarship AND competed in track and field, but does not mention what the scholarship was for. So it seems some more clarification is needed for “regular” journalists who cover Ms. Robles and Ms. Mangold in the future.

    As for us, we have corrected the mistake.


  8. March 15, 2012 8:06 am

    I was her weightlifting coach while she was at Ursuline. She had a track scholarship AND academic scholarships.

    Thank you for the comments. Holley does struggle sometimes to be at her most competitive bodyweight. Too small and she isn’t strong enough, too big and her positions and flexibility suffer. She does carry a huge amount of muscle. When she had her bodyfat done on the Rachel Ray show, she had a lower bodyfat percentage than the model to whom she was compared.

    Bottom line is she is big, strong, fast and athletic—and healthy. The only people who have a problem with her are the athletes and coaches she beats and idiots who couldn’t buy a seat at her Olympic event, let alone earn a slot there.

    Dan Bell
    USA Weightlifting Advance Level Coach

    • March 15, 2012 9:53 am

      Welcome to Fierce Fatties. What a wonderful comment on your protege, your sport and your own wonderful outlook on people. What matters is not how Holley or Sarah LOOKS, but what behaviors they engage in. Holley and Sarah are athletes and they deserve the same level of admiration and respect as their Olympic peers. It seems that Holley is quite luck yto have had a coach like you training her and guiding her through such a difficult and dangerous sport. Thank you for taking the time to comment and I can’t wait to see how the weightlifting team does.


  9. john permalink
    June 25, 2012 3:03 am

    how about cause its unhealthy…she may be going to the olympics,but is morbidly obese. like many football players (lineman). you can be a productive member of society and just have a life brutally cut short by heart failure,or be fit and be both. america is too fat,and too sensitive about it.

    • June 25, 2012 10:51 am

      Back it up or shut up. Honestly, do people really think they can come here, spout a few stupid “it’s unhealthy!” memes and we’ll all magically fall in line? Fuck you.

      • Kala permalink
        June 25, 2012 2:03 pm

        When you are already impressively dumb, it’s probably not hard to come to that exact conclusion.

    • June 27, 2012 10:31 am

      While it’s true that defensive linemen have a 42% higher risk of death from heart disease, the same study that found this mortality risk also found that black NFL players had a 69% greater risk of dying from heart disease than their white counterparts. The fact is, we don’t know all the risk factors that contribute to heart disease and considering those football players are almost solid muscle, your theories on obesity are entirely absurd.


  10. July 27, 2012 5:44 am

    Check with the Life Insurance companies, they have a vested interested in knowing at what age people are likely to die, and the risk factors that make it a statisical probability that you will die before your peer group. It is fact that FAT people die younger, smokers die younger…etc…etc. Most of the people on here who get very irate at people who point that out are in denial. Unfortunately that is what happens when you get addicted to something, be it Nicotin, Sugar, Twinkies, Junk food, Heroin, Cocaine…etc

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