In recent years, there has been a shift in the way women approach exercise. From a time when women were obsessed with being skinny, they now focus on getting fit and strong. With social media platforms like Instagram highlighting the popular trends of fitness modelling and female bodybuilding, there’s no way of avoiding the fitness revolution that has arrived.
Previously, bodybuilding would conjure images of figures like Arnold Schwarzenegger and other male sportsmen. However, it is now becoming increasingly becoming popular amongst women too – who no longer fear that lifting weights will make them look bulky, masculine and unattractive. Instead, the sport has been praised for encouraging women to combat obesity, fight eating disorders and help women get into the best shape of their lives.
The sport has been around for the best part of a century. However, while there are women who have competed historically, the introduction of female participants only began to resonate in 2001. Previous years showed less female involvement due to the gendered stigma attached to the sport.
Now, female bodybuilding can be redefined for the modern women. If your aim is to build strength and muscle then you don’t need to compete to have a bodybuilding title.
Iconic female bodybuilders
Rachel McLish was one of the first female bodybuilders of the modern era, winning the first Ms. Olympia in 1980 and again in 1982. She ran a competitive career in bodybuilder for around five years, also appearing on magazine covers, bringing female bodybuilding further into media attention.
Lisa Marie Varon, also known for her professional wrestling career, won her first title in 1997 on ESPN2’s Fitness America Series, followed by the Miss Galaxy title in 1998.
In more recent years, TV personality Jodie Marsh began her bodybuilding career in 2009. Previously known for TV appearances and occasional glamour model shoots, Marsh redefined herself and developed a muscular physique. She has competed in the Natural Physique Association Bodybuilding championships, finishing 5th in 2011, and then went on to win gold at the INBF Bodybuilding Championships in 2012.
The rise of fitness modelling
Previously, modelling was more focused around fashion or glamour, where skinny figures, symmetrical faces or big breasts were the must have features. Now, modelling has been revolutionised by sport and fitness. Bodybuilding has parted the way for fitness modelling. Whilst the ‘bikini body’ has been something all women have strived for, the ideal bikini body has evolved from what it used to be.
Six packs, sculpted curves and the rise of the ‘booty’ have led to a different kind of bikini body ideal. Resistance training and a calorie deficit diet is the most popular routine for extreme muscle development. Think squats and dead lifts – weight lifts that women may have previously tried to avoid. Now, as attitudes change, weightlifting has become a thing of the present and future for females, with abs, biceps and glutes now attractive on the female body.
The power of social media
There is a lot less stigma surrounding women in the gym in recent years. Women now go to the gym to get fit, building muscle and strength as opposed to just ‘getting skinny’. A lot of the progression in attitudes towards female fitness and female bodybuilding can be attributed to the power of social media. Social media has become an influential platform for public figures to show their followers what they are up to. This has meant that fitness gurus and enthusiasts can become fitness influencers guiding their followers towards their goals.
It’s the likes of Instagram photos and videos from popular public figures that have revolutionised the way people think about female bodybuilders and fitness modelling. Social media apps have provided a platform to showcase fitness modelling and bodybuilding achievements that have become appealing to onlookers. The use of clever hashtags has meant that people who are looking for bodybuilding-related posts can be directed to influencers, professionals and amateurs that are posting about it.
Influencers now use social media to encourage other fitness enthusiasts and offer advice on the best training techniques, sharing everything from their favourite protein shakes to the supplements that help them reach their goals. With advice more readily available, women are no longer scared to lift weights.