Thanks (but no thanks…)

I was overwhelmed by the response I received regarding last night’s documentary! The sheer amount of people who watched it was one thing, but the amount of tweets and messages wishing me luck and cheering the whole team on was absolutely incredible. For the three of us featured in the show, the fact that we, three female British weightlifters, made it to a mainstream TV channel for doing the sport we love is amazing. A few years ago the idea of that would’ve been unthinkable, which really shows how far the sport has come in such a short space of time. While it is still very much a minority sport, the amount of both participants and supporters is growing rapidly.We’ve even had a few people tell us we’ve inspired them to try weightlifting, which means the absolute world to us.

At the risk of sounding slightly up myself, I’d love to be able to personally reply to every lovely message each one of you have sent, but there were so many I’d be sat on my laptop sending messages for the next year! (And I kind of have that thing to do next week…) Basically, what I’m trying to say is if you watched – thank you! And if you didn’t, it will be on BBC 3 more or less daily for the next week I think, and it’s also on iPlayer. So you really don’t have an excuse now. Wink.

While we can’t get enough of the supportive messages (seriously, keep ‘em coming, I think I speak for all of us when I say my self-esteem is currently at an all-time high), what we aren’t so crazy about is the few ignorant twerps making rude comments. We did a quick search on Twitter for the title of the programme, ‘weightlifting’ and our names (it isn’t every day you’re on telly for an hour, so of course you’d be interested to see what people are thinking!), and the majority response was still very positive. But there were of course a very small percentage of idiots who seemed to have missed the entire point of the documentary. However after reading for a while it became more and more obvious that these people had never done a moment of exercise in their life, or had the intelligence of a potato.

The obvious choice of slander when talking about female weightlifting is “how unfeminine, girls shouldn’t be strong or have muscles, this is wrong”. And maybe they’re right… in the Victorian era. To think people still think like this is laughable, we’re in 2012! This may sound like a sweeping generalisation, but most of the people that do think like this seem to be chauvinistic, pigheaded blokes who feel emasculated by the fact that we, three small, fairly feminine girls, are stronger than them. Simple as that. I confronted one guy that said “we’re probably all lesbians and look like blokes”, purely to explain the fact that his opinion is invalid cause he’s a moron. And wrong. He came up with the original comeback that I should get back in the kitchen. I laughed.

As Hannah pointed out earlier, 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.
And here’s some food for thought – maybe you should broaden your criteria for what you consider ‘attractive’ anyway, because these perfect, feminine women you speak of probably have no interest in you either. 

What makes me sad is that some girls had this opinion too! How ironic that the title of the show was Girl Power. You’d think that young women around the same age as us would commend us for doing something different and with our lives, and putting 100% effort into it in order to make something of ourselves. But apparently we’re ‘weird’ for not constantly eating crap, binge drinking regularly and wearing the shortest, tightest dresses that the high street has to offer. Sigh…

Anyway, that’s all I can be bothered to say for now as it’s probably a lost cause. It’s the first sunny day we’ve had in weeks, and I have loads of summer clothes that I bought ages ago that I’ve not had a chance to wear yet. It is going to take me hours to decide which to wear first! See, I can do girly…

465 thoughts on “Thanks (but no thanks…)

  1. You are awesome! Strength is something that is inherently desirable, both for men and women. The fact that you’ve lifted TWICE YOUR WEIGHT is just incredible. I’m also glad that you referred to form and technique in your interview (don’t recall which one) – lift smarter, not harder. ;-)

    You’ve also shown class and dignity when replying to your lame-ass critics. And while I can speak for only myself, I think strong girls in general are incredibly attractive. You’re downright gorgeous!

    http://onetoonegym.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/420934_10150631811447463_108605392462_10892928_445281445_n.jpg?w=500&h=398&h=398

  2. The best revenge against those small minded ‘boys’ is to have a great life without
    taking any heed to their mindless prattle. I saw the show with my daughter and we both
    thought it was inspiring. You are the role model for a generation of young women sick of
    the ‘big boobs, short skirt is the only way to succeed TV programming’ that seems to dominate our screens at the moment.
    The only way is Essex? No, The only way is Exercise and self confidence.

  3. It’s late, so it’s gonna be a short one: You are awesome and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
    I know how frustrating it is to have sexism come from those, who you expect to be your allies. Believe me, I’m putting in a lot of work to set my MOTHER straight on a lot of stuff. Awkward.

  4. I love what you wrote! It’s 2012. Strong is sexy, for men AND women alike. I lift weights because of the strength I’ve got from the inside and out. It’s awesome to face a physical challenge everyday! Keep on keeping on girrrrrl :)

  5. You are awesome. I’m 25 and I’ve found that negative, insecure people will always find something negative to say about you just to reassure themselves, no matter how you look. As long as you love yourself and embrace life that’s all that matters, those people who are beautiful inside and out will notice that and we all know that confidence in yourself is the most attractive thing of all.
    I havnt seen the documentary yet, but I will be watching it, the Olympics has been such an amazing and emotional experience for me and many others. Always stand up to the people who try to bring you down and carry on being in inspiration :) x

  6. Ugh, you guys (and all the rest of the british female athletes) are so amazing and inspiring. And BEAUTIFUL. This response just reminds me how many fools there still are in the world if they are too intimidated by your success and general greatness that they get their backs up about it.

    I wish you all the very best xx

  7. “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.”
    I, as a man, am allowed to don’t find muscular women attractive, as I am allowed to don’t find short-haired women attractive. (even if I actually do)

    “But if you don’t, why do you really need to voice this opinion in the first place”
    I on the other hand completely agree with that. I don’t say it because it’s not nice to hear no nice to say.

    I would like however that this association between man insecurity and “old school” tastes to stop. I, who has always been kind and never mean to any strong woman, am a bit hurt to feel concerned by this only because I don’t find muscular women attractive.

    I’m supporting you, as I am with anyone man or woman, to do whatever you want with your life and your body and to live your life as you want to. But please confine yourself to actual mean people. :)

  8. Thanks for inspiring our daughters… both with your athleticism and confidence. Little girls all over the world, because of you, will try something they didn’t think they could do before. Thanks for being a strong woman in body and heart.

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  11. I didn’t see the documentary – I just thought I’d confirm that you are officially good looking.

    Yes it’s true because I said so.

    Seriously though you make me wish I was younger. And better-looking. And richer.

    Well I’m off to make more of my life – you keep it up you absolute star!

  12. You’re strong and beautiful like the Marvel girls, and surely just become a heroin to many girls around the world. Congratulations!!!

  13. Well put! You have such a lovely way of expressing your opinions; it makes reading everything you write so enjoyable. It definitely helps that I agree with everything you have written. Your performance in the Olympics was amazing – congratulations on your record!

  14. Right Zoe !! As you are, Women can be Sporty, gorgeous, clever, and now who they are, what they want and how to answer to narrow minded persons. Those kind of persons who rather should get some interest and culture in their life. Or just do something with it from time to time… No nobody’s obligated to stick at what they’re supposed to do, the first think we absolutly need in life is BREATHING. Let’s all Live fully with our potential and let Live !!

  15. Well done Zoie! It needed to be said! And Kudos for saying it! You have a right to enjoy what you want how you want & not be branded or put in a box by ignorant men or women! You girls keep doing well & I will be cheering all of you on!

  16. I’m not a big fan of the Olympics and I don’t know tons about weightlifting, but I do know that when I was a kid, if there were role models like you I would have been much more interested in taking up sports. By that I mean role models who are articulate, smart, quick, funny, focused, and strong, not just physically. You are the kind of person who will inspired more than a few little girls to be active and athletic, as well as well-spoken and thoughtful, and confident in all of those Thank you. :)

  17. Zoe, you are awesome! Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you for this post. Way to put those close-minded, ignorant misogynists (male and female) in their place. You are an absolutely fantastic role model for girls and women everywhere. And please ignore anyone who says you should just ignore the criticism. The only way to change the status quo is to speak out about it (where would we be if the suffragettes had just “turned the other cheek..??) <3

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  20. Doesnt matter, still ugly, you have no right to complain when you find out 99% of the guys find your looks disgusting

  21. Hi Zoe, I’m brazilian, so I apologize for any mistakes in my writing. I came across your blog on a Facebook post about this awesome reply of yours to the stupid comments about your look and the look of the other girls of the team as well. I guess I just wanted to congratulate you for what you said and also for all your weightlifting achievements, it is great and very inspiring to see womem like you having the courage to do what you like despite society’s awful notions of beauty and feminine. We girls should all join our forces to fight back this kind of situation, but sadly we see many of us only reforcing this type of behavior. I think I won’t have the chance to see the documentary because here in Brazil we don’t have BBC, but I wish you the best and congratulations once more. Kisses. Vitória.

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  23. Oh, I wish I could have seen this blog post a few days ago! A friend of mine posted a picture in favor of strong women (he’s a bodybuilder himself, so has a lot of hot bodybuilding lady friends) and two dolts took it upon themselves to start a discussion about how women “should” have a soft layer between skin and muscle, because women with “too many” visible muscles are “manly.” I tried to explain to him that it’s not up to him to decide what makes a woman feel like a woman and also tried to exactly this to him – that the women who lift don’t give a shit about guys like him because they’re not doing it to appeal to him. He made some idiotic comment about strong women shrinking their own dating pool and I said I’d rather have a smaller, more refined pool filled with people with whom I share similar interests and mindsets than appeal to a large pool of people I don’t care about. Buuuut they still didn’t get it, and when I referenced Jamie Eason as a “feminine” strong lady, he verbally attacked features unrelated to the conversation (“There’s something about her sneering face that I don’t like”), I think because I had made the point and he didn’t want to give up. Now I feel it’s a bit late to reference this point, but believe me, I’ll keep it handy for the next time! :)

  24. Loved this post. I wanted to thank you for it. I’m a woman who looks up to women like you and has thought about much of what you’ve written here many times. I’ve encountered morons just as you have described every time I have expressed delight as seeing a strong female role model, whether she is a mountaineer, deep sea diver, footballer, boxer, business woman or simply a woman who cares enough about her body to be muscular and fit in a world that tells her that she must look “delicate” in order to be desirable. I’m (sadly) not accomplished in any of the above ways (although I do have views and characteristics which morons react to in much the same way) but I still find men who hold such archaic views incredibly repulsive and would much rather prefer a man who is confident enough not to feel threatened by strong women.

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  27. Excellent! I can’t say I know much about weightlifting but you are top-level Olympic athletes and regardless of whether the sport is attractive or not, you deserve respect from everyone! The fact that you’ve composed a well-written response to these few morons is even more impressive; you’re the type of role model we need to see more of – fit, motivated, healthy and eloquent!

    It’s a puzzle to me that in this day and age there are people who still think that there should still be clear cut gender divisions that go beyond what’s in our pants!

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  30. Zoe Smith – the ultimate proof that you can have both brawn AND brains. It’s not often that I see a blog post so articulate from someone so young.

  31. Didn’t see you in the Olympics unfortunately, but my mum did and she’s not stopped talking about you – how well you did, your interview afterwards, how pretty you looked (she’s right, if you don’t mind me saying =]) …

    Anyway, that’s a wonderfully written blog post. It’s inspiring :)

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  34. The world is changing, but slowly. Yes, they really want you to want to look attractive for them. But your response was wonderful. The world is changing, because of people like you. Thank you.

  35. A friend stumbled upon your blog quite by accident and thought I might approve of your notions about weightlifting women. I do approve, so heartily that I’m going to go about trying to find a version of your documentary that I can watch in Canada. Do you know of one?

    Whenever I am confronted with those who think lifting and “looking bulky” is unfeminine (and sadly it’s mostly women making these comments, and the definition of “bulky” is very different from mine…) I just show them this blog post that I found on the subject.

    http://crossfitfms.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/the-fear-of-bulkiness-and-crossfit/

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