Olympic weightlifter Zoe Smith isn’t interested in your bullshit.

Zoe Smith, 18, is a weightlifter. This weekend, she competes for Britain in the Olympics. She can clean and jerk nearly 260 lbs. Her Olympic qualifying total was 211 kg, or about 465 lbs. That alone should be enough to make the wise person disinclined to mess with her.

But there are always unwise people around to make the world a shittier place, and a number of them took to Twitter after the BBC aired Girl Power – Going For Gold, a documentary about Smith and her teammates Hannah Powell and Helen Jewel. “They’re probably lesbians anyway,” and “I’d think you were a bloke and so would 9 out of 10 lads,” and of course the classic “Now piss off back to the kitchen.”

Smith held her own on Twitter, and then she elaborated further in a post on her blog.

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 generalization, but most of the people that do think like this seem to be chauvinistic, pigheaded blokes who feel emasculated by the face 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.

Weightlifting events start this Saturday; competitors in Smith’s class, Women’s 58kg, lift the equivalent of a grown man over their heads starting Monday.

19 comments for “Olympic weightlifter Zoe Smith isn’t interested in your bullshit.

  1. EG
    July 25, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Zoe Smith is my new hero! She’s not just super-strong–she’s also really, really smart and a good writer!

    I don’t care about the Olympics at all, but I’m rooting for her.

  2. July 25, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    I’m really impressed that she didn’t respond in anger. Not that I think she wouldn’t have been justified, I just know how these sports regulating bodies are and I’m glad we’re not now talking about how unfair it was to take away her place on the Olympic team because she used swear words on twitter. So far the only female athlete booted for twitter comments thoroughly deserved it.

  3. July 25, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    I am all about the women weight-lifters this year.

  4. July 26, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Olympic lifting is pretty weird, but also pretty awesome. I just started heavy lifting this year (haven’t done any Olympic lifting yet, but I’d love to learn), and it’s so inspiring to watch the women Olympic lifters. And, on top of it, they all seem to be such awesome people. Go team strong women!

    (That said, I’m totally rooting for Sarah Robles.)

  5. July 26, 2012 at 1:30 am

    Zoe Smith is my new hero! She’s not just super-strong–she’s also really, really smart and a good writer!

    I don’t care about the Olympics at all, but I’m rooting for her.

    Indeed, her response is definitely exemplary. It’s always nice to hear about strong-willed and mature people like her.

  6. Marksman2010
    July 26, 2012 at 1:51 am

    Indeed, her response is definitely exemplary. It’s always nice to hear about strong-willed and mature people like her.

    I agree. Her response reminded me of JUNTA’s written statement when they delivered 500 tacos to East Haven’s Mayor Maturo after he made racist remarks. Cool and calculated and effective. To be very honest, I’m jealous of these people.

    I’ve got too much of a temper to respond this way. I would have been a liability during Dr. King’s marches throughout the 1960s. He would have told me to stay home.

  7. samanthab
    July 26, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Did people catch today’s nytimes piece on a a dude’s new doccumentary ( http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/26/fashion/supermodels-as-they-age-is-focus-of-documentary.html?ref=fashion ,) which is described as such,

    “The subject rivets the filmmaker, who was eager to explore, he said, ‘the power of beauty and fame, what that does to your ego, what it does to you when that fades.’

    The project, which originated as a photo shoot for Vanity Fair, could be mined, he suspected, for something more. ‘These women were still out there, after all,’ he said, ‘still togging along and trying to be somebody.’”

    I can’t even tell you how pissed off I was to read that I’m supposed to be in hiding because I’m not as dewy as I used to be, and then I read this: an absolutely perfect counterpoint to the mega screwed up lie that there is one narrowly defined way for women to be attractive. Yay! It’s like she’s “togging along and trying to be somebody whether she fucking fits into a box of lies or not.

    God bless her for her calm eloquence, and thanks be to Caperton for posting this. You both made my morning better. I totally feel like I can show my 39 year old face in public now! I eagerly await the day when women like her can speak to women’s lives in mass media, instead of asshole dude photographers who are currently sanctioned by Nyt and HBO.

  8. Wiley
    July 26, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Go Zoe! What a cool young woman.

    Also, are these Twitter trolls SERIOUS right now? Women with muscles are the EVERLOVING SHIT.

  9. Adaquinn
    July 26, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Cool and calculated and effective. To be very honest, I’m jealous of these people.

    I’ve got too much of a temper to respond this way

    I’m right there with you Marksman2010.

    She made a beatiful articulate response. My body image hero!

  10. bleh
    July 26, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Whoa, I’d better take my older than 39 yr old face back home and stop togging along. Now, who is going to make up for my salary loss while I stay home to keep from offending the dudebros who only like to see fresh young female faces?

    Also, my anger is a liability too. I’m working on it…

  11. pillowinhell
    July 26, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    If I were her, being told to go back to the kichen, I’d have asked “why? Do you need your stove moved?” And laughed.

    These twits need to develop new insults.

  12. July 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    im so encouraged by ms zoe’s achievement and her grace under pressure—-i wish i hadnt let my mom talk me out of weightlifting when i was a teenager—-but it was 1976, a completely different era—-in spite of the distance we still have left to go, progress has been made and that is cause to celebrate

  13. July 26, 2012 at 3:38 pm


    Also, @Shoshie:

    (That said, I’m totally rooting for Sarah Robles.)

    Me, too; she’s awesome and deserves greater recognition and financial support. But you can totally root for both of them: Sarah Robles is in a different weight class.

    (I do weightlifting too, as a hobby, and unlike Zoe Smith I am not small-framed. I share her cheerfully dismissive attitude toward anyone who thinks she should care if they find her attractive.)

  14. Amy
    July 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Awesome! I’ve got some tickets to the weightlifting, I really hope I get to see her in the women’s!

  15. anthrosciguy
    July 26, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    I love the smell of sarcasm in the morning. :)

  16. July 26, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    I liked her response. BTW I once worked on a high-security ward, and the best person to have beside you if the balloon went up was a staff-nurse who was 5 feet on her tip-toes. She wouldn’t have appreciated such comments either, had anybody dared to say them to her face.

  17. Brian
    July 29, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    I am a normal guy who has been a fan of athletic and muscular women for 30 years. I have never been able to understand anyone who says that a woman with an athletic or muscular physique is unfeminine. Most such women are the picture of health and vitality – what could be more attractive and alluring?!

    Good luck in your Olympic competition Zoe and more power to you through your life.

    On the other side of the coin and totally unlike Zoe, unfortunately, some women feel the need to take synthetic male hormones and other anabolic substances to enhance their sporting performance or increase their muscularity if they are competitive bodybuilders and this makes them lose their femininity and their looks. It can have major long term negative impact on their health. This is a dark side of women’s sport but I’m not going to get further into it here because it’s a hugely complex and not very pleasant subject.

  18. anon
    July 29, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    …we don’t lift weights in order to look hot…

    Is that just a pleasant accident then?

    Girls who lift get a very pronounced hourglass figure.

    Couldn’t get tickets to support her in person, but will be watching intently at work!

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