Setting a new British record by lifting 121kg in a jiffy at the ongoing Olympics games is not the only thing that makes British weightlifter Zoe Smith tough. The 18-year-old athlete has come down sharply on all those who labelled her as “unattractive”, manly and “weird” for her muscular physique after BBC featured her in a documentary recently.
While Smith has called such people a bunch of “chauvinistic, ***headed blokes who feel emasculated by the fact that we are stronger than them”, feminists across India are also upset with the rude remarks and have come out strongly in support of Smith. “One cannot lift those heavy weights with a zero size figure! Their profession requires them to have a muscular body. It’s a shame that people are reacting this way,” says Sonali Khan, vice-president of BreakThrough, an NGO.
According to Vrinda Grover, a Delhi-based human rights lawyer, “Women are subjected to the sexist behaviour because people have a fixed notion of how men and women should look like. The way Zoe has tackled the situation is great. She has spoken for women all over the world.”
A fan’s comment on Smith’s blog reads, “There are now more senior women in this country lifting light weights to keep their bones in shape than men taking care of their beer bellies. It’s mainstream, nitwits. Zoe, you are our inspiration.”
Urvashi Butalia, director of Zubaan Books, a publishing house, feels that it is high time the sports community learns to treat women with dignity and gives them the respect they deserve. “Bravo to Zoe for standing up for herself. She has become a role model for all the female sportspersons,” says Butalia.
Excerpts from smith’s blog:
* 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?
* Shall we stop weightlifting, amend our diet in order to completely get rid of our ‘manly’ muscles?