Saturday, March 17, 2007

Girls' Weightlifting

From Florida, in today's New York Times: "She was an Atlas of the exurbs, hoisting a 210-pound barbell over her ponytailed head and holding it there, arms just barely aquiver, while the high school gymnasium exploded in cheers. At that moment on a recent Saturday, Jessica Reynolds, 17 and weighing in at 261 pounds, broke the state record for girls’ weightlifting, a high school sport sanctioned only in Florida..." According to the report, no other state has officially adopted weightlifting for girls, as the Florida High School Athletic Association did in 1997.

I think it's fantastic that "it’s pretty much understood that weightlifting is O.K. and you’re not a boy and you’re not gross if you do it,” as one senior weightlifter said, but it's telling that it supposedly took this to gain acceptance: "The presence on many teams of cheerleaders — who become better jumpers and fliers after lifting — has helped remove the stigma from the sport, several girls said. Many wear bows in their hair at competitions, and at a recent meet, one wore pearls with her singlet." Essentially, when the team became more stereotypically "girly," it became more acceptable in general that these strong young women were intruding upon traditionally male territory.

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