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Women's Studies • Fat Studies • Sports Psychology • Diversity
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - Educational Media Reviews Online | RECOMMENDED - Video Librarian
Date of Completion: 2012 | Run Time: 75 minutes | Language: English | Captions: No | Director: Julie Wyman
STRONG! chronicles an athlete’s struggle to defend her champion status as her lifetime weightlifting career inches towards its inevitable end. Cheryl Haworth defies categories. A 12th generation patriotic American, a visual artist, and, since age 14 America’s top Olympic weightlifter, she is an elite at the international level. A formidable figure in American weightlifting, Haworth is ranked well above all men and women on Team USA. But at 5 foot 8 inches and weighing over 300 pounds, she doesn’t easily fit into standard chairs, clothing sizes, or pre-conceptions. As the 2008 Beijing Olympics approach, Haworth struggles with injuries, the end of her career, and the difficult task of re-defining herself and building a sense of confidence that she can bring with her as she leaves the sport that has given her a sense of pride. STRONG! explores the contradiction of a body that is at once celebrated within the confines of her sport and shunned by mainstream culture. Through Haworth’s journey of strength, vulnerability, loneliness, and individuation, we learn not only about the sport of lifting weight, but also the state of being weighty: the material, psychological, and social consequences and possibilities of a having a body that doesn’t fit.
Aud: C, P. (K. Fennessy)
"A large woman, she takes pride in her size, which has allowed her to prevail in a male-dominated sport, citing the added physical leverage that is made possible with a larger frame. She also has a sense of humor, noting that due to her size, 'breaking furniture' comes with the territory. Wyman concentrates on Haworth's career after her bronze win in 2000. Haworth feels she has found her calling, but suffers a blow when an injury slows her down, although she recovers in time to train for the world championships in Taiwan and the Olympics in Beijing. After graduating from art school, Haworth moves to Colorado Springs to work out at the Olympic Training Center. While she can lift over 350 pounds, she trains with men who can lift over 600 and she competes against other women who can lift almost 400. After a second injury, Haworth begins to ponder life after weightlifting, but her size precludes her entry into some careers, such as the Coast Guard, which has strict requirements about weight. Haworth goes on to compete in 2008, but walks off into an uncertain future, although it's hard to imagine that she won't find another field in which to make her mark. Aside from Haworth, other female weightlifters here also offer their thoughts about the sport. DVD extras include an audio commentary by Haworth, Wyman, and cinematographer Anne Etheridge, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and deleted scenes. Recommended."
Educational Media Reviews Online | Reviewed by Cliff Glaviano, formerly with Bowling Green State University Libraries
"In addition to learning about the training and mechanics of Olympic weightlifting, the mental and physical obstacles that must be overcome for a gifted athlete to succeed, the filmmaker also allows the viewer to experience society’s bias against plus sized women. Of necessity, Cheryl’s automobile is a full-sized Lincoln, she has to be careful not to sit on most furniture in public places, and off the rack clothing just doesn’t work for Cheryl and her weightlifting teammates. Because she is successful at what she does, Cheryl becomes the most tested U.S. athlete for banned substance use. As she contemplates retirement from active competition, Cheryl is not sure what her future holds other than 'tangible freedom' from weightlifting competition.
This video is highly recommended. Cheryl’s story is told with great empathy and artistry. The excellent cinematography includes great sound recording and editing of interviews that took place out in the forest, on the street, in parking lots or moving vehicles, in homes, gyms and training facilities. Extras include commentary by the director, cinematographer and Cheryl Haworth on the collaboration that made the film possible, a behind the scenes featurette, deleted scenes and the official film trailer."