Weightlifting can help empower women

This story was originally published in the third edition of The Lion’s Tale (December 9, 2020).

In today’s society, and society’s views for hundreds of years, has had a very specific view of how a beautiful woman looks. Lean, skinny, makeup, but natural beauty, long shiny hair. This ideal is unrealistic. Women of all shapes, sizes and colors are beautiful. Strong women are beautiful. From a young age little girls have to grow up hearing that being muscular or lifting heavy weights will make you “undesirable” to a man.

At Oviedo High School, the Lady Lions weightlifting team is growing more and more every year. More strong girls, beautiful inside and out, are realizing how much fun lifting weights is, and how many benefits it brings not only to your physical appearance but also to your mental and physical health.

Sophomore Ava Gelm has been a part of the Lady Lions weightlifting team here at OHS in both of her years attending high school.

“I have never been worried about being ‘too strong’, some girls stress about having the validation of a boy in their life, but lifting with the team makes me happy and helps in many parts of my life,” Gelm explains. “Being a softball player as well, I noticed how much weightlifting helps me with my strength and stamina.”

The benefits of lifting weights are plentiful and many girls on the team found that doing both weightlifting and their primary sport, helped them with their primary sport no matter what it was.

Personally, I have been playing volleyball for eight, going on nine, years. Weightlifting and going to my gym outside of the school weight room has helped me immensely with getting my vertical up, and having the strength and endurance I need when a long practice or tournament comes around.

The change in physical attributes brought on by lifting heavy weights is not a change that comes quickly; it takes hard work and years of dedication to see extreme results. Many are worried that being a part of a four month (maximum) program will cause them to see extreme changes and results in their physical appearance.

“When I first heard about the weightlifting team, I originally thought, ‘oh I don’t want to be super muscular, that is not how I want to look, but then it hit that even though I joined the team and am lifting heavy, I haven’t really seen a huge difference in my body, I look toned,” said Junior Elsa Mattsson.

Mattsson is a first year weightlifter for the OHS Lady Lions. Her hesitation to join the team seemed to have been brought on by the societal view that strong is unattractive, and that strong women wouldn’t be desired by men. Many women on the weightlifting team have realized that they should not have to worry about what a boy thinks about them, and that what they chose to do is for them.

“I have not been bothered by what people think of me, I am not super self conscious, and at the end of the day, if a guy is worried about me being stronger than him, that’s his problem not mine,” says Gelm.

When first walking into the weight room, the energy exerted by the team and its members was one that was unmatched. It is a very accepting and positive energy that just draws you in and makes you want to stay to experience it more.

“The girls are all very uplifting and it is a really good team to be a part of, everyone always cheers each other on and does not let us give up on a lift without a fight, and if we fail, they are always right there to help you try again,” said sophomore Kaitlyn Jeffcoat. “As long as I remember to stay true to myself and realize that no matter what people think, I am beautiful and I am strong, then I will be okay.”