I’ve been keeping an eye on the Olympics since they got underway earlier this month, and while the swimming and gymnastics are always my favorite events of the summer games, I have been paying more attention to track and field and weightlifting this year than ever before. And I have Michelle Carter and Sarah Robles to thank for that.
A lot of great articles have been written about how these women are two of the competitors who are changing the face of what we think of when we think of athletes. As women who are strong, physically fit and clearly outstanding in their events — hello, Olympic medals! — they defy the usual svelte image we have of athletes of their caliber.
And like the authors of articles on Bustle and Plus Model Mag, I am equally excited to see these women prove that you can accomplish amazing physical challenges without having to be skinny.
This is not meant bash thinner athletes, because they rock, too. I’m just happy for women to show on a stage as big as the Olympics that no matter your size, you can excel in your chosen field.
And it’s especially important to see that fitness and strength can come in all sizes. These women put in a lot of work to train to become Olympians, and it has paid off. For younger women who may have shied away from school activities because they don’t feel thin enough, I hope the Olympics has shown them they can compete in volleyball or basketball, track and field or any type of activity they love.
It’s no secret that I have always struggled with body image and the feeling that I need to lose weight. However, in the last few years I have thankfully discovered that those struggles don’t have to get in the way of the joy of physical activity — I can challenge myself with fun, tough workouts and enjoy the knowledge that my body can move in ways I used to think I couldn’t and is capable of all kinds of feats.
Women like Carter and Robles help others see that this is possible, too. So if there’s an activity that you want to try but you’ve been hesitant to, throw those insecurities aside. As long as you pay attention to your body so you avoid injury, you can find joy in all kinds of workouts and activities.
Thanks, Michelle and Sarah, for being Olympic roles models for us all!