I think all of these women trained to do something different. It’s a heck of a lot harder to do what the ladies on the left did.
The noise gets to be overwhelming. “Women should look like ______. Women shouldn’t look like _______.” It’s not just opinions and personal preference. The divisions and rules for women’s bodybuilding competitions are changing because of opinions about what is an acceptable “feminine” form. Really? Is there a limit to how fast a woman can run and still be considered feminine? Probably. Track and field is not my sport so I don’t know.
Standards change for everyone, but the conversations about female bodybuilders seem to be more emotional than the ones about male bodybuilders. People will tell you what they think about male bodybuilders and what they feel about female bodybuilders. Just listen. Pro and con – people have stronger reactions about the women in the sport. I’m also one who has strong feelings about the sport. My husband and I don’t see eye to eye on this. Because he loves me, he supports me, but I try to avoid the discussion about “appealing” feminine form with him. I know he’d prefer me to look like the women on the right and I want to look like the women on the left.
My Facebook feed is inundated with images of the “ideal” female form. They are different. Some slender and some with lots of muscular development. The only thing most have in common is that there is usually some guy out there making a comment about how appealing that particular image or body type is to him.
The legit bodybuilding websites can be the worst when it comes to disrespect toward female bodybuilders. T-Nation, who says they are the site for “the intelligent and relentless pursuit of muscle”, has a whole section devoted to “Figure Athletes”. I was naive and thought that it was a section of their website for female bodybuilders. It’s not. It’s just pictures of almost naked women. Tacky. There are plenty of resources for muscular women, but even there, you may find pics that are provocative. To me, there is a big difference between a woman posing in a posing suit and a provocative picture.
I’m 50 now. I’ve seen a few decades. We are still judged by how appealing we are. No matter what we have achieved, or how hard we train, it’s about what we look like0.
I’ve had real life conversations with female bodybuilders this week about how the “female bodybuilding” category may be phased out because the public doesn’t like the look of developed muscle on a woman. Don’t assume I’m talking about steroids because I’m not. Any human who trains with weights for a long time – like decades – will develop muscle and have a certain shape. If they lose body fat and aren’t all smooth and squishy, they will look hard, athletic, and muscular. Our societal norm is that this ‘shape’ is masculine. It’s not anything except what an athlete looks like when she’s been lifting. Some women who are smaller than me, but who have been doing this a lot longer than me, have that shape – with no steroids.
None of this matters to how I train or what I’m training for. It’s just annoying when I’m not lifting. When I’m training, I’m in my happy place. No noise. No chatter. Just me vs the iron. No, it’s not “vs”. The iron is on my side. We work together. Me, the iron, and gravity. Teamwork.