I don’t see much difference.
When I started paying attention to women’s bodybuilding, this is what I saw…
I’ve been bombarded with advice and bodybuilding tips on Facebook and in person from bikini competitors. I appreciate the generosity, but enough already. The big money uses the bikinis to drive business to their sites. They are window dressing. I want to hear from and read about women who have actually built muscle. Those stories pop up every so often, but not often enough. I’m going to stay natural, but I want to be as big as I can. In competition and in life, I will NOT be judged on my “sex appeal” and “feminine attitude”.
I’m too old to be competitive in “sex appeal” anyway, and I don’t care. I’m too old to accept it. I grew up during the civil rights movement. I studied history and appreciate how long it took for women to begin to be taken seriously. I watched Billie Jean King play Bobby Riggs in 1973. I remember the whole Bev Francis vs Rachel McLish controversy. I remember when it was unpopular for women to have jobs, much less careers. Our priorities are still questioned if we invest too much of ourselves into our careers. The double standard is still alive.
Even now, in bodybuilding and other sports, the men have big prizes for their competitions and the women have trophies. Cash, cars, and endorsements for the guys…trophies for the women. Sad. For women, it’s not about the look that comes from the work, it’s about the “look” that makes them “appealing”. No one wants Ms. Olympia as a spokesperson – they want Ms Olympia Light. If you asked me who I thought was more “appealing”, I’d say Phil Heath. But he didn’t win until this year.
But he was sexier, wasn’t he?? Dreamy eyes and all. (I’m being silly.)
I’ve seen several bikini competitions in person locally because they are part of the bodybuilding competitions. (I confess that I had to get up and wait in the lobby during a bikini round once because there were a couple of women seriously “working it” for the judges. I was too disgusted to watch.) I know these competitors are proud of what they have accomplished. Many are there to show off amazing transformations. But I really wish they would do figure or bodybuilding instead. I feel very strongly that the bikini division is destroying female bodybuilding. Maybe if the bikini poses were less provocative, if they really were just uber-lightwieght bodybuilders, I’d be more supportive. But as long as it looks a little like a tawdry swimsuit competition from a beauty pageant, I’m going to be annoyed.
PS – I’m consistent with my standards of morality with respect to the female form. I’ve come across a few Facebook pages and websites that claim to be supportive of female bodybuilding, but in reality they are posting provocative pictures of women that are obviously intended for another purpose. I don’t join those groups or “like” those pages.