“Can you imagine being huge — but graceful and beautiful and just gorgeous?” That’s Olympic weightlifter Cheryl Hawthorn describing her sleek, 5,000 pound, 1979 Lincoln Continental. But as we can so plainly see, it is Cheryl herself who is huge and graceful and gorgeous. And strong. By the age of 15, she was US weightlifting champion. By 17, she became the youngest athlete to win an Olympic weightlifting medal. She held the National title for 11 consecutive years. But perhaps even more compelling than her prowess as an athlete, is her poise and grace as a person. Tipping the scales at 300 pounds, Cheryl defies conventional notions of female beauty. Yet, whether she is working with her Olympic trainer, cooking at home with her mom in Savannah, or laughing about the difficulty of doing simple things like buying a dress or finding a chair that won’t collapse under her weight — it is precisely her strength and beauty that shine through. In our fitness-obsessed culture, where 18 pounds overweight is termed “obese,” Cheryl’s success makes us rethink how we see the female body and expands our notion of what it means to be powerful, healthy, and beautiful.