Weird News —
Apart from having one of the greatest names ever, Holley Mangold is an Olympic athlete, as erylin shared with us on Monday. In response, Holley’s teammate, Sarah Robles, and former coach, Dan Bell, have commented (Sarah asked that her post be removed due to inaccurate information regarding the scholarship status of Holley, which we have clarified).
Both Mangold and Robles appear fat:
Yet both are incredibly talented athletes.
I say “yet” not because I’m confused by the concept of a fat person being in Olympic shape, but because the rest of the world seems to be.
Take this Huffington Post story on Mangold’s bid for the US women’s Olympic weightlifting team, which she recently one.
The June 2011 article by David Moye is fairly done and even includes a nod to the fact that people can be fat and fit:
Of course, that will happen when you’re a 323-pound woman in perfect physical shape, who is highly favored to compete on the 2012 U.S. Olympic weightlifting team.
But the comments include no shortage of haters and doubters who insist that Mangold cannot be healthy because… because… well, just look at her! I mean, does this look healthy to you?
The answer (though we are under no obligation to answer such ignorance) is yes, you thick-headed turd polisher!
Holley Mangold and Sarah Robles are healthy, athletic and strong, and just because you can’t get past the amount of mass these women possess does not diminish their accomplishments, their talents, or their health in the slightest.
But this is just one of the toxic consequences of living in a weight-based health culture (WBHC), where health is something you wear on your sleeve for all the world to see. What is even more toxic is when people internalize the belief that they can’t be healthy if they are fat, as in the example of Stormy Bradley and the WBHC.
Stormy is the mother of one of the Strong4Life “actors,” and despite being incredibly active, she continues to focus on losing weight, rather than referring to her athletic achievements as evidence of her health.
Stormy has done some incredible stuff in her life, even recently, including “repelled off a 50′ tower (1987), been in a fist fight (1988), earned Masters Degree in Education Training & Management Systems from University of West Florida (2003), climbed Mt. Hood in Portland OR (2006), climbed 50 floors to raise money for American Lung Association (2009-2010), completed to (sic) 5ks, (2009-2010), and climbed Stone Mountain in Georgia.(2010).”
The only difference between Stormy and Holley is that Holley seems to have reached a level of comfort and acceptance of her body that allows her to enjoy her accomplishments without feeling as though she has to weigh some arbitrary amount to suddenly trigger “health.”
This is the message that needs to be spread throughout the world, and especially to young girls who have been snared in the WBHC: if you want to be healthy, then do healthy things, but stop expecting thinness as a result.
It’s pretty simple premise and we’ve got oodles of research backing it up, but the world just can’t stand to hear anything but “Thin=Healthy/Fat=Imminent Death.” Any story that suggests that a fat person can also be healthy is treated as weird news, as evidenced by HuffPo’s placement of the Mangold story:
Hey HuffPo, I got news for you: women’s Olympic weightlifting is a sport and it’s my understanding that you have a functioning Sports Section. What is weird about a 323-pound female weightlifter? Aren’t there male weightlifters who are members of The 300 Club?
Take a page from Sports Illustrated, which covered Mangold’s accomplishments without the snide swipes.
There’s absolutely nothing weird about Holley or Sarah. What is weird is living in a culture that puts a greater emphasis on appearance than accomplishments. How many of these sniveling smartasses could qualify for an adult kickball league, let alone the fucking Olympics?
We need to see more of Holley and Sarah. We need to share their stories with our daughters and our sons to show them that being fat is not the end of the world, let alone the end of your health.
A great place to start is this episode of MTV’s True Life all about Holley’s meteoric rise through the challenging world of competitive weightlifting (although you may want to watch first before sharing with your kids, as there are some minor adult themes). You also get to meet Robles and Bell along the way.
I, for one, will be paying attention to the Olympics for the first time since… ever. For once, there are some athletes whose personal success I feel compelled to follow. Robles is the seasoned veteran, while Mangold is the brash, young upstart, and both are poised to make big waves this summer in London.