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What Size is Strong? What Size is Athletic? | Manolo for the Big Girl

What Size is Strong? What Size is Athletic?

I don’t know how many of you out there are fellow fans of Project Runway. And I don’t know how many of you caught last Wednesday’s episode. The challenge, for those of you who missed it, was to make an outfit for the US women’s Olympic team to wear at the opening ceremonies. The actual uniforms, of course, were left up to Ralph Lauren, while these were pure fantasy.

Since most of the designers in question had never participated in sports and only a smattering of them said they watch the Olympics, many of them had bizarre ideas of what would be both appropriate and flattering (Really, Suede? A cheerleading uniform? And Daniel, you broke my heart when you decided to make a cocktail dress).

One of the things Tim Gunn kept trying to impress on people in the workroom was that these are athletes who are strong and probably want to show off their bodies a bit…but still women who might not appreciate embiggening horizontal-striped skirts.

That got me thinking a bit about all the sizes and shapes of female athletes at these games. From tiny, lithe gymnasts to massive, powerful weightlifters and everything in between, the Olympics is a fabulous chance to see just how many shapes and sizes strong comes in.

And that in turn reminded me to take a look at a slideshow in the NYT that had been pointed out to me earlier in the week. There are only seven pictures, but they illustrate perfectly how diverse and how beautiful the athletic body can be. Each of these people is perfectly built for their sports. None of them would be as good in another athlete’s sport. All of them are inspiring to see.

And I’d like to see someone try to put that fabulous female weightlifter into a damn cheerleading uniform.

7 Responses to “What Size is Strong? What Size is Athletic?”

  1. jelodi August 9, 2008 at 3:17 pm #

    Deena Kastor’s marathon performance at the 2004 Olympics was a thing of beauty. She got the bronze, the first American woman to medal in the marathon since 1984. And I can’t believe her resting heartrate is 28 bpm, she must have an incredibly powerful heart.

  2. Jo August 9, 2008 at 4:10 pm #

    I was reading an interview with Cheryl Haworth the other day, and I *think* I recall she runs a 5-second 40. Holeee kamole. And Christian Cantwell’s been profiled recently on NPR–his metabolism is such that he lost *seven pounds* on a four-hour plane flight, as he couldn’t carry enough food on to the plane to feed himself.

    These folks are like specialized insects or pieces of machinery. Amazing!

  3. smb August 10, 2008 at 10:42 am #

    saw a short (no pun intended) profile of melanie roach on nbc last night- she’s the smallest woman on the US weightlifting team- at 5’1″ everyone presumes she is a gymnast, but she’s rocking out, and is the best hope for US women’s WL gold!

  4. Eden August 10, 2008 at 11:19 am #

    As I watched the episode, I kept thinking about women who do shotput, weightlifting, etc. who wouldn’t like, look good or feel good in the outfits being put together. I think Tim should have thrown out the term “plus” and watched some of their heads explode.

    But I think the top 3 designers made outfits that would have worked for anyone.

  5. Kate August 10, 2008 at 12:01 pm #

    It’s not usually a good idea to put a very built, athletic woman into superfeminine, girly clothes. Not only is there the issue of how flattering it is, but also, it is hardly in the spirit of the Olympics! It’s the most intense athletic competition in the world, not a tea party! And this is coming from someone whose own taste veers towards the feminine and girly. I wasn’t sure what most of the designers were thinking this past week. However, I agree that the top three had appropriate looks.

    It was awesome to see pictures of the athletes…each one’s body is suitable for their sport, and not any other.

  6. Twistie August 10, 2008 at 2:06 pm #

    Eden – I think the top three designs were the right ones in that episode…but I can’t help thinking that the proportion problem on Joe’s skort could easily have gotten him landed in the bottom three in seasons past. How sad is it that I agreed with the judges that Suede’s cheerleading uniform and Kenley’s random 40’s inspired dress didn’t belong in the bottom three?

    Tim needs to come to my house and be fed homemade scones and have a good cry on my shoulder.

  7. Evie August 11, 2008 at 3:21 pm #

    Fantastic photos, and really drives home something a trainer once told me: the body is built first and foremost for function, not fashion :)