Olympic Weightlifter Holley Mangold Says Get Over Her Fat

Since when did the Olympics become all about being sexy versus competing, representing your country and striving for a gold medal? Like, suddenly the way a female athlete looks is an open invitation for the body-snarking, fat-shaming comments to begin. But if you ask American weightlifter, Holley Mangold (who happens to be the heaviest woman at the Games this summer), she is proud of her weight and is fighting back–and so are many other Olympic women.

Mangold may weigh 346 pounds, but if you ask her, her body and her weight is a something to be proud of:

Between my team mate (Sarah Robles) and I, I think we both showed you can be athletic at any size. I’m not saying everyone is an athlete but I am saying an athlete can come in any size.

Mangold also reinforces her pride through Twitter, where her profile has the tagline “Loving life and living big!”

We love that.

Other athletes this summer have also come under fire for being fat, but they too are fighting back and telling everyone to just get over it. It’s something that women have had to endure–but not men, of course (unless you consider all the drooling over Michael Phelps‘ 22-Olympic-medals-body).

Jessica Ennis

British athlete Jessica Ennis, who won gold in the heptathlon this weekend, was actually called fat and accused of carrying too much weight by a high-ranking UK athletics official before the Games began. Um, I can’t seem to find any fat on her. How about you?

Then there was Australia’s swimmer Leisel Jones who was also called fat by a rude Australian paper who suggested she did not look as fit as at Beijing in 2008. Her teammates fired right back saying this paper was disgraceful and demeaning.

British swimmer Rebecca Adlington has faced similar criticism but told reporters she was going to avoid reading Twitter during the Games because some people were making such negative comments about her body. And the Brazilian women’s soccer team were also called “a bit heavy” to which their coach defended them by basically saying they move fast out on the field, and that’s all you need to know.

The Olympics are not about looking hot or sexy or skinny. But sadly, that is what they have become, at least in part. Endorsements are given to those who have sex-appeal. Athletes are taking off their clothes and posing nude for ESPN’s magazine, and viewers (including some of my friends on Facebook) just can’t help but comment on the way the beach volleyball women look in their skimpy bikinis (if they choose to wear them this year). It’s a lot of hype over the wrong thing. If there’s any gawking to be done, let it be about the sport and the performance of these amazing athletes–not their bodies and how much fat they do or don’t have.

As Briana wrote about today, it’s OK to admire Olympic athletes, but just know that the media is full of crap when it comes to commenting on their bodies.

Photo: sports.yahoo.com


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    • Dentist in Budapest

      big round of applause

    • Ed

      Health risk is dictated in part by body fat percentage. As long as you are within what is medically accepted as the healthy range for body fat, then it’s totally reasonable to be bothered by the comments. Being outside of the healthy body fat range is being disrespectful to your body, and if you can’t show respect for your own body, don’t expect others to.

      • T


        I am pretty sure that she is well within the healthy body fat range so your comments do not apply AT ALL.

    • RA

      I think there is a legitimate form this criticism can take, and that is in regard to an athlete’s perceived fitness. With Holly Mangold and other weightlifters, the weight they carry has no negative impact on their performance. It may even have a positive impact, though I have no idea.
      But for sports that require a large amount of aerobic fitness, extra weight can be an indicator that an athlete may not be at their peak physical fitness.

      These athletes may be women, but in the context of the Olympics, they’re athletes first. Sometimes, an athlete’s body completely reflects the athlete’s ability. Think Michael Phelps or Dawn Harper. When you see their bodies, and then their performances, their performances come as no surprise. They look like what you expect someone that did what they did to look like.

      But if an athlete in a sport known for a certain body type isn’t showing that type, there will be speculation that the athlete won’t be able to perform. If an athlete that usually looks to carry no extra weight suddenly looks to carry five or ten extra pounds of fat, why is it fat shaming to suddenly wonder if they’re too heavy? It’s not making a judgment about the attractiveness of their bodies, or how well they conform to a particular standard of beauty, but it’s raising a question about how well they might compete.

      And for some athletes, carrying extra fat, or even too much muscle, would seriously hamper them. Just as an unhealed injury might. I think we need to treat female athletes as athletes first, evaluated within the athletic standards of the sport.

      If the comments are “well, so and so doesn’t LOOK good,” then that’s a different, and troubling, comment. Most sports aren’t judged on how someone looks. But if a commentator says someone doesn’t look as FIT as her peers or teammates or as she has in the past, that may be a legitimate comment.
      In many cases, the athlete may be at their peak despite their appearance, and if so, their performance will reflect that. Some athletes, even those in traditionally low body fat percentage sports, can carry more fat and still do very well. Or they do better with that fat. And that can also be addressed, but it doesn’t need to be turned into a fat-shaming situation.
      The Olympians shouldn’t be put into the same categories as models or celebrities, because their bodies are created for one purpose: to excel at a sport. They’re not out their giving us standards of beauty to attain, or telling us how we should live our lives.
      In fact, one of the joys of the Olympics is seeing people who have done things most of us could never do. And that includes making their bodies perfect for their performance. Not perfect looking, but perfect for what it needs to do.

    • Rosie O’donell

      Fat is fine! I eat whatever I want… what the hell is that pain in my arm?

    • Jay

      This woman and her teammate Sarah Robles can each lift about five couches or a fully grown lion over their heads…can YOU do that? I’ll bet their cardiovascular health is excellent, their muscle density has to be excellent, and just imagine how heavy their bones have to be in order to be able to handle those stresses! Who gives a damn if an athlete has a little bit of extra padding if they can play a sport or perform some AMAZING physical feat that you can’t even dream of.

      Maybe you should try snatching or clean and jerking 500 lbs, then tell me how out of shape Holley is or how disrespectful to her body she is.

      Also, Ed, gymnasts beat the HELL out of their joints, and they’re all pretty much pure muscle. Doesn’t seem very respectful to their joints, does it?

      I’m a cyclist, I run several miles a day, and I take excellent care of my heart and my body. Guess what else? I’m 6’2″ and weigh 290 lbs. Shape doesn’t matter. Overall health, energy level, muscle tone, endurance, and technique are what matter in sports. The athletes are there to showcase their skills and their raw physical abilities, not to be eye candy for you!