British Olympic Swimming Champion Feels "Unfeminine"S

Rebecca Adlington, 19, is a swimmer who trains four hours a day, six days a week. But when she wears a baggy clothes? "People ask me, 'Are you expecting?' I say, 'No, I'm just fat.'"

Adlington, a 5 foot 11 Olympic champ (video of one of her wins, here), tells the Daily Mail:

Do you know why I like shoes? They make me feel feminine. My shoulders stand out and people always say, "Aren't they broad?" And I think, "Thanks! You are really making me feel better about myself." I don't hate them, but I'd like to be more petite.

Without them, though, I know I wouldn't have the power I have – they are what makes me go so fast in the water – but out of the water, they definitely look better with a nice pair of shoes.

How heartbreaking is it, that in this era of "dainty" size 0 celebs, a strong, amazing woman — who is tapping into the potential of her (female) body — thinks of herself as unfeminine? What does "feminine" mean, anyway?

Here's the Merriam-Webster definition:

1: female
2: characteristic of or appropriate or unique to women {feminine beauty} {a feminine perspective}

But in our culture, it seems like "feminine" means dolled up, ruffled, manicured, wearing Louboutins. It doesn't mean getting dirty, or exerting yourself, or getting sweaty. Adlington says:

"I think there is a problem in that girls don't think it's cool to be sporty. I had that feeling when I used to trudge into school after training with my hair wet, smelling of chlorine, with no make-up on and thinking, 'Oh God, all the other girls look fantastic.' We need to change the view that you can't be a sportswoman and be feminine. I am certainly feminine outside the pool.'"

Of course, to prove that she is most certainly female, the paper shot Adlington by the pool in heels and a frilly dress. But she seems to have some sort of peer-induced ideal in her mind that she just can't shake: The reporter suggests she is bringing glamour to swimming, and Adlington responds, "Me? Bring glamour to the sport? I don't think so. I looked dreadful at the end of my 800 meters when I pulled my hat off and the wet hair was flopping in a face bare of make-up. Awful!" That is how she describes the moment in Beijing when she won the gold medal. Why?

British Olympic Swimming Champion Feels "Unfeminine"S

Olympic Champion Rebecca Adlington: 'Girls Don't Think It's Cool To Be Sporty' [Daily Mail]

Earlier: British Swimmer Rebecca Adlington Has World Record, Good Friends