"Fat? We are fit. Get over it, say women athletes"
I read the above article yesterday, and it bothered me on two levels:
1) women athletes are being targeted in ways that men are not.
2) she may be physically fit, but one of the featured athletes weighs over 300lbs.
1) There was an earlier article about a Guamanian Judokan who was 481lbs. The article focused on how he was beaten by a man half his weight. Nothing about how "fat" he is. I am old enough to remember the 1985 Superbowl and the Chicago Bears. William Perry, AKA The Refrigerator, weighed in at 380lbs at the start of the season. I could probably google a lot of male athletes, especially American Football players, who tip the scale at close to 300lbs, and no one bats an eye. I remember a documentary I saw years ago, about the evolution of women's gymnastics. Many of the early gymnasts were what would be considered average height and weight. Gymnasts like Olga Korbut and Nadia Comeneci were considered small, even undersized. They were also phenomenal gymnasts who changed the sport. Many of the competing gymnasts today are definitely petite. The pressure put on young girls in gymnastic to stay under a certain weight has been connected to eating disorders. Though physically able to do amazing things, some girls are damaging their body with unhealthy eating and practices.
2) I admire Holley Mangold for the guts and determination she has shown. She is a world class competitor in a sport that is dominated by men. I saw a TV feature on her about 2 months before the Olympics, and she can go toe to toe with may of the male power lifters she trains with. She played football in high school with and against boys, and loved it. She is showing the world that athletes come in all shapes and sizes. My concern is this; yes you can be psychically fit and be beyond what are accepted weight ranges, but at over 300lbs, Holley is still putting a lot of stress on her weight bearing joints. There are so may other health issues connected to high amounts of body fat; insulin resistance, Polycystic ovary syndrome, and a higher risk of heart attack are the first to come to mind. Yes, show young girls that it is okay to be athletic, and to have a body size/shape other that a stick figure, but let's not dismiss or negate what that much extra body fat will do in the long term.
That said, I hope we all can find that place where we are physically fit and healthy, and ignore what society tell us we must look like. I may have a way to go, but I am doing things I never would have considered in my 20's. I am working my way towards a long life with no limitations. I will never have the body that the celebrities my age have (at least not with out plastic surgery) but I will be happy with what I work to get.