Being an Olympian is hard. But being an Olympian who is hoping to break a world record in a male-dominated sport (and in an event actually called the "clean-and-jerk") that prizes the traditionally "unfeminine" qualities of brute force and sheer strength isn't just tough — it's a character-testing experience. But it appears Zoe Smith has character in spades, because this remarkable lady isn't just in peak athletic condition, she's as smart as they come, too.
Weightlifting, obviously, is about being strong. And Zoe Smith is about as strong as an athlete can be. But when onlookers began blasting the 18-year-old British contender for her muscles, Smith didn't let the comments get her down. One particularly harsh critic said she "looked like a bloke" and that most guys would agree. (Fortunately, the offender in question had the good sense to at least delete the tweets.)
So, Zoe took to her blog and wrote out one of the most empowering, You-Go-Girl smackdowns we've ever read. She says:
"...We don’t lift weights in order to look hot, especially for the likes of men like that. What makes them think that we even WANT them to find us attractive? If you do, thanks very much, we’re flattered. But if you don’t, why do you really need to voice this opinion in the first place, and what makes you think we actually give a toss that you, personally, do not find us attractive? What do you want us to do? Shall we stop weightlifting, amend our diet in order to completely get rid of our ‘manly’ muscles, and become housewives in the sheer hope that one day you will look more favourably upon us and we might actually have a shot with you?! Cause you are clearly the kindest, most attractive type of man to grace the earth with your presence.
"Oh but wait, you aren’t. This may be shocking to you, but we actually would rather be attractive to people who aren’t closed-minded and ignorant. Crazy, eh?! We, as any women with an ounce of self-confidence would, prefer our men to be confident enough in themselves to not feel emasculated by the fact that we aren’t weak and feeble."
Zoe Smith, this takedown should be read by women everywhere. Not only is her physique amazing, but the positivity and cheer with which she approaches her sport makes her a real champion. (And not that it matters, but she's gorgeous, too.) This 18-year-old is as strong as they come — figuratively and literally — and a true Olympian. (Think Progress)
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Photo: Joe Toth/BPI/Corbis