Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The Misconception Of Masculinity In Female Bodybuilding

How female bodybuilding transcends female gender roles and standards.

Helle Trevino

by Bill Dobbins for Muscle & Fitness

Since modern female bodybuilding began in the late 1970s, women in the sport have often been accused by some of trying to look like men. However, Charles Gaines, author of Pumping Iron, has called this kind of female body a “new archetype,” something never before seen any time or any place in all of history. So, if some people automatically associate muscles with masculinity, there are thousands of years of precedent encouraging them to do so.

But times change. Not long ago, women couldn’t vote nor own property. Female scientists were not eligible to receive a Nobel Prize. Women nowadays can be doctors, lawyers, vice-presidents. And they can train to develop physiques with a lot of aesthetic muscle and become competitive bodybuilders.

I’ve gotten in trouble over the years for saying that bodybuilding for women and for men should be judged by the same standards. People thought I was advocating that the women should look like the men. But what I meant is that the basic standards of bodybuilding competition – including mass, muscularity, symmetry, definition and proportion should apply equally to both genders.

The difference between the genders is aesthetics. That is, the physical structure of the female body is different than that of the male, so aesthetic standards will be different. And if bodybuilding judges need to be told that there is a genetic, structural difference between women and men, they are probably not qualified to be judges.

Women have a smaller skeletal structure than men. They have a wider pelvis and their thigh bones come down at more of an angle. Women have about 90% of potential leg mass than does a man, but only 50% of the upper body mass. Their biology determines they will carry more fat and water weight. And of course, they have only a small amount of male hormones in their systems than do men.

It is also true that the training it takes for a woman to become a champion bodybuilder is pretty much the same as that of a male champion. A curl is a curl is a curl. Top competitors develop individual approaches to training to suit their genetics and temperaments, but there is no such thing as a distinction between training for male or females per se.

Given real physiological differences, it’s harder for women to build upper body mass and to get really lean and defined. But history has shown that some women have been able to develop quality bodybuilding physiques in spite of the obstacles. But when you look at top female champions like Lenda Murray, Sharon Bruneau, Anja Langer, Alina Popa and Brigita Brezovac, nobody with an experienced eye would think they “looked like men.”

Actually, the difference in body size between most men and women in general is about 13%. But the top male bodybuilders can weigh 100 lbs. or more compared to the women. Much greater than 13%. So, the case could be made that bodybuilding doesn’t make the male and between the genders greater!

In any event, when you look at somebody like Rising Phoenix champion Helle Trevino, with her mass, shape, proportion and muscularity, ask yourself the question – aside from a few top male competitive bodybuilders, how many men do you know who actually look this good?

There are many men training all over the world who actually want to “look like a girl” – as long as that girl is Helle Trevino or Alina Popa or Lenda Murray. But to do so they will need to build a time machine and go back and choose different grandparents. Because genetics rules and you can’t fool mother nature.

Monday, September 28, 2020

The History of the Ms. Olympia Contest

Female bodybuilding continues to challenge preconceived notions of beauty.

Ms Olympia bodybuilding 

Barbend: There’s a lot to be excited about for this year’s Mr. Olympia. The “Superbowl of bodybuilding,” which takes place on Dec. 18-19, 2020, will see the return of seven-time Mr. Olympia Phil Heath who is donning posing trunks for the first time since his 2016 dethroning. Also, Flex Lewis — the former reigning seven-time 212 Olympia winner and a general crowd favorite — is making his Open division debut in an attempt to out-muscle returning champ Brandon Curry.

Unfortunately, all of this excitement has somewhat hidden the genuinely historic part of the 2020 contest: the return of Ms. Olympia. Women’s bodybuilding has, since its true
inception in the late 1970s, played second fiddle to the men’s division. The history of the Ms. Olympia division is a testament to this fact.

In 2014, the IFBB Professional Leauge disbanded the Ms. Olympia competition with little indication that it would ever come back. Amidst claims that fans no longer cared, the premier women’s bodybuilding contest was canceled. How and why the Ms. Olympia was dropped speaks to the barriers facing the sport. Specifically, what is and isn’t an acceptable female body. Such a question has plagued female bodybuilders long before the Ms. Olympia.


Tuesday, September 22, 2020


She-Hulk muscle morph
Give me more Gamma!

NEW! Area Orion Enhanced. Original photo by Jeff Zoet Visuals with Ginger Kutschbach.

Silver Surfing

Silver Surfer female muscle morph

Draining the Power Cosmic!

NEW! Area Orion Enhanced. Original photo by Nicolas Bourque with Alicia Bell.

Friday, August 21, 2020

How Feminism Has Overlooked Muscle Women

Female bodybuilders

Bodybuilding photographer Bill Dobbins on what he sees as feminism's blind spot. 

Muscle&Fitness: The progress that women, especially in western culture, have made since the latter half of the 19th century is amazing. This is especially evident when you look at parts of the world that have not gone through this evolutionary change. For example, where they are denied an education, freedom of movement, and even the right to drive a car.

In the Western world, including the US, in the not too-distant past, women couldn’t own property. They were considered to be the property of their husbands. It was just 100 years ago, not ancient history, that most women in the U.S. were given the right to vote.

Female Muscle
In modern culture, feminism advocates for women’s rights and equality, but it seems that some women who should benefit from this kind of advocacy have been left behind by the movement. Specifically, women with muscle who train and diet to create aesthetic physiques and who compete in various categories in muscle contests— in particular, female bodybuilders.

Women have been traditionally considered the “weaker” gender. They finally became increasingly celebrated in athletics during the 20th century, and many sports for women are now more popular than the same sport for men. As of the 1970s, women also started competing in bodybuilding.

But in the 1970s, this movement hit a wall, failing to recognize and respond to the gradually increasing discrimination facing competitors in the emerging sport of bodybuilding for women.

Of course, it’s not the overall idea of muscles on women that creates this kind of opposition. Throughout history, most people, including women, have been peasant farmers. In the days before mechanized farm machinery, muscle is what did the work. Nobody ever criticized farm wives because they had the strength to allow them to plow behind a mule, haul water or chop wood.

Nor does the opposition based on women getting big and strong exist across the board. Strong women with muscles have long been celebrated in comic books. Women wrestlers have become stars in that world. For decades, we’ve seen Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting competitions for women. But since their bodies were developed in pursuit of sports performance and not aesthetics, they’re accepted.


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

IFBB Pro Beverly DiRenzo Passes Away At Age 49

Beverly DiRenzo
Beverly DiRenzo
FitnessVolt: The bodybuilding community is in a state of mourning, yet again. This time, it is due to the fact IFBB Pro Bodybuilder Beverly DiRenzo has tragically passed away.

Starting her career as a pro in 2000, Beverly always had a love for fitness, that she developed at a young age. Over her career she established herself to be a top tier talent in women’s bodybuilding, competing in the Open division. She took part in many shows, most notably having solid performances at the Tampa Pro, and winning the NPC National Championships.

Unfortunately it would seem that Beverly DiRenzo has tragically passed away. Her husband broke the news with a post to her Instagram, explaining that she passed away in her sleep. It is unclear at this time what the exact cause of death was, but he clearly was heartbroken at the loss of his spouse.

Read more>>

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Bodybuilder Joanna Thomas Found Dead, Age 43

We're deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Joanna Thomas, a star in the world of Female Bodybuilding who passed away at such a young age. She was one of our first and favorite Area Orion morph subjects. You will be missed.

Joanna Thomas

FitnessVolt: The bodybuilding world took a massive hit over the weekend, as another athlete has been taken from us too soon. This time, it was British bodybuilder Joanna Thomas, who was found dead at the age of 43.

Thomas was an IFBB Pro, competing professionally since the early 2000’s. Moreover, she was the youngest female to earn her IFBB Pro card, doing so at just 21 years old. As a result, many thought she would have a promising career ahead of her. Unfortunately, difficulties with osteoarthritis began causing her severe health issues, rendering her nearly immobile.
According to a Facebook post from her brother, Joanna Thomas tragically lost her life on Sunday, April 26th. This was heartbreaking news that affected everyone in the bodybuilding world.

This is especially tragic news given the circumstances of Joanna’s health condition. She had been struggling for a while, not able to leave her house towards the end of her life. At a bare minimum, a certain amount of solace can be taken in the fact that she no longer has to suffer.

In terms of bodybuilding careers, Joanna Thomas had a pretty solid. Earning her Pro Card in 1998, she competed in some big shows over the years, including the Ms. Olympia. In addition to that, she became a nurse at the same time as pursuing her bodybuilding career, expressing a love for helping others. Ultimately, she would retire from the sport in 2007.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Audrey Hepburn with Muscles

What if classic Hollywood got a modern bodybuilding upgrade? Here’s one of the greatest, Audrey Hepburn with a rock-hard physique.

Audrey Hepburn bodybuilder muscle
Brought to you by Area Orion Studios. Original photo by Kai York with Jessica Williams

Grace Kelly with Muscles

What if classic Hollywood got a modern bodybuilding upgrade? Here’s Princess Grace of Monaco with a little extra punch.
Grace Kelly Bodybuilder Muscles
Brought to you by Area Orion Studios. Original photo by Kai York with Eleonora Dobrinina

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Bettie Page with Muscles

What if big muscles were in vogue during 1950’s? Here’s a vision what pin-up queen Bettie Page may have looked like. Thanks to Barbara Carita for providing the hard-earned physique.

Check out more Celebrities with Muscle at FemaleMuscleMorphs

Bettie Page female bodybuilder muscles

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Female Bodybuilder Faced Major Backlash for Her Breastfeeding Photo

Jordan Musser breastfeeding bodybuilder
HuffPost - : Imagine this: You are standing under bright show lights on a stage in front of a few hundred people. You have no clothes on, except for a tiny, sparkly, $400 bikini that’s been glued to your chest and butt. You are orange and pungent with spray tan, which you got after standing fully naked in front of a stranger with a paint gun who asked you to spread your glutes to make sure the tan gets in all of your crevices. You will walk to the center of the stage in 4-inch heels to be judged by a panel of five people who will look for any jiggle of fat, any pock of cellulite, any unsymmetrical or underdeveloped muscle to determine your ranking among others. Most people around you are rooting against you.

“I constantly grappled with the selfishness of extreme fitness juxtaposed with the selflessness of new motherhood, and the world had a lot to say about it.”

Jordan Musser breastfeeding bodybuilder
I’ve been in the fitness industry for almost 10 years now, the back half of which being what I consider extreme fitness, a world of the relentless pursuit to grow larger muscles and shrink any remaining deposits of fat that have dared to stick around. It’s grueling. It’s sweaty, exhausting, time-consuming and expensive.

Your body hurts and your mind plays tricks on you, turning every glance in a mirror into an all-out dissection of any physical imperfection. Your muscles get big and your ego gets bigger. You can walk through a crowd and think I am the leanest, strongest, most muscular person here and then get home to look in your mirror and think I am a shrimp, I am pathetic, I don’t stand a chance. It’s physical and psychological warfare with yourself. I love it.

Prepping for a bodybuilding competition involves excruciating diet manipulation, rigorous amounts of cardio and long hours in the weight room. At my most intense, I’ve spent nearly three hours a day lifting weights and doing cardio. I’ve eaten the same meal of chicken, cucumbers and vinegar twice a day every day for weeks on end. I’ve packed pathetic Pyrex bowls of bland, macronutrient balanced meals to parties and dinners where I looked away from the mac and cheese and desserts and bit into another cold piece of chicken. >>Read more at

Monday, February 3, 2020

Chinese Female Bodybuilder On The Frontlines Helping Fight Coronavirus

Yuan Herong
IndiaTimes: Cosplayer Yuan Herong, who served as a doctor in Shandong province of China and became famous for resembling Chun Li- a video game character is now on the frontlines of the Coronavirus crisis.

Chun Li
According to reports, Yuan Herong, the muscular doctor from Shandong Province, China, shared how she has stepped up to fight the pandemic spreading across China and killing hundreds.

In a recent Instagram post, Yuan said: ‘I’m a doctor. Must [be] on the front line. Do my best to help the epidemic.'

“171 cases of new pneumonia were cured and 15238 suspected cases were found,” she noted. “The healers are all treated through traditional Chinese medicine and other symptomatic treatment. We will try our best to do a good job in prevention and treatment.”

According to a Mail Online report, Yuan Herong, a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, started exercising in 2016 because she wanted to 'look stronger'. The fitness fanatic, who has been dubbed 'the real-life Chun-Li', told Ruptly: 'I just take it as a hobby to exercise naturally without medication.'

Friday, January 10, 2020

Stacey Bentley, Female Bodybuilding Legend, Dies Age 63

Stacey BentleyFitnessVolt: The bodybuilding community has suffered a majorly tragic loss. Stacey Bentley, a true pioneer of the sport, has passed away at the age of 63.

Stacey BentleyStacey Bentley was one of the original female bodybuilders, competing in the first-ever event as such. She took the stage at the first IFBB Women’s World Bodybuilding Championships, in 1979, scoring fourth place. Moreover, she won three contests before her retirement from the sport in 1981, including the 1979 Frank Zane Pro. She paved the way for today’s generation of female bodybuilding.

Following her career as a bodybuilder, Stacey decided to find joy in helping people as a registered nurse. This came as little surprise to those who knew her, because she was always kindhearted. Even as she competed, she worked to break the stereotypes of bodybuilders being aggressive. Moreover, she did not even care for talking smack about her fellow competitors.

Unfortunately, according to a Facebook post from Roger Schwab, a close friend to Stacey, she heartbreakingly lost her life. According to the post, she tragically passed on New Year’s Eve, “suddenly and quietly.”

Thursday, January 2, 2020

The bodybuilding contest where you CAN'T show off your muscles

Teenager wins first-ever women's championship in Bangladesh - but most of her muscles were covered up to avoid offending Muslims

Awhona Rahman

DailyMail: Bangladesh's first women's bodybuilding championship was won by a 19-year-old student in a contest where most of her muscle was covered up to prevent controversy in the Muslim-majority nation.

While skimpy bikinis are the norm at international body-building contests, Awhona Rahman and her 29 rivals kept their brawn under wraps in front of the crowd of hundreds.

Rahman and the other competitors struck poses on stage wearing tight leggings and body-hugging outfits during the three-day event that finished on Sunday and was held in the capital Dhaka.

I am really happy, I really worked hard for this,' Rahman told AFP. 'It never entered my mind that someone might criticise me for showing my body. My brother, who runs a fitness centre, has always encouraged me,' she added.

Bangladesh's first female bodybuilding champion
Awhona Rahman, 19, (left, number 444), was crowned Bangladesh's first female bodybuilding champion on Sunday after competing in a crop top and leggings in a sport where bikinis are the norm
'We were told there would be proper dress code and the outfit provided was perfect from a Bangladeshi perspective.'

Bangladesh Bodybuilding Federation general secretary Nazrul Islam said there had been a huge response to the landmark women's competition which aimed to encourage health and fitness.

'We were very careful about the dress code because of our religious and social culture. We selected long sleeve crop tops and leggings for the girls,' he added.

Islam predicted the competition would help create jobs for women in the growing number of gymnasiums in Bangladesh where women now have memberships.

Nearly 90 per cent of Bangladesh's population is Muslim and women are making a growing impact in sport including cricket, football and archery.
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