Breast Implants, Bikini Competitions, and Female Empowerment

A few weeks ago, the Arnold Classic took place.  My boyfriend tuned in online and watched most of the events, as he usually does.  This is how I came to see the bikini competition.

Until recently, my experience with the world of bodybuilding has been limited.  I had seen bodybuilding competitions on ESPN years ago.  I enjoyed the movie Pumping Iron with Arnold Schwarzenegger.  It’s such a strange documentary of a man who is so driven to be champion he skipped his father’s funeral so he would not miss training.  It becomes even more bizarre when you watch it keeping in mind that one day this man will be governor of California.  I could write a whole post about Pumping Iron 2 – which is infuriating as it follows Bev Francis who is clearly the hugest and has the most impressively crazy unnatural looking muscles in the movie, but doesn’t win because she’s not “feminine” enough.  I remember watching that and thinking, if the point is not to have the biggest muscles, what is the point?

My boyfriend is into bodybuilding.  He trains like a bodybuilder and looks like a bodybuilder in their off season.  He reads about bodybuilding and through him, I know a lot more about it than I used to.  But I’m not claiming to be an expert by any means.  I certainly have no personal experience with it.

On Facebook, there are a lot of bikini, fitness, physique, etc competitors or hopeful competitors.  I feel like I am friends with some of them, although maybe they aren’t going to like me after this post.  I want to make clear that what I am about to write about is not about the people who participate in these competitions.  This is not about jealousy or hate or anything of the sort.  All bodies are good bodies.  I think these women’s bodies are beautiful and worthy of respect, just like everyone else.  However, I have some major concerns about the phenomenon of these competitions becoming mainstream and something more and more women of all ages are aspiring to.

I have specifically chosen not to use images from the competition in my post because I do not want to attach anyone’s image to this post without their permission.  You can see the competitors using a simple Google search.

I’m not sure what I was expecting to see.  I guess I thought it was going to be similar to the bodybuilding competitions I had seen before.  What I saw was not at all what I expected.

I did not expect every single competitor to have huge breast implants.

I did not expect them to be wearing 5 inch high stripper heels.

I did not expect the big blonde extensions that covered up the backs of most of the women (why are they covering their physique if that’s what’s being judged?)

I did not expect the flouncy bouncy prancing.

And I really did not expect the poses to be so sexually suggestive.

What exactly is this all about?  Then my boyfriend read me some of the comments people were making about the competitors on Muscular  They read like the comments you might read on a porn site.  I’m not going to repeat any of them.  They do not deserve repeating.

Then there was the pose where the woman faces her back to the audience, arches her back, and sticks her butt out.  It was too much.  I honestly couldn’t believe that this is what these sweet women I know online dream of doing.  I’ve seen this pose before…  in Penthouse, Hustler or Playboy.  And the women in those magazines are sometimes wearing more clothes.

This is where I started to get angry.  Women are being lured into these competitions as an end goal of a path to health and fitness.  But it has nothing to do with either.

What do breast implants have to do with health?  What do stripper heels have to do with fitness?   It’s worse than something like a Hawaiian Tropic bikini competition or a wet T-shirt contest to me because at least those things are straight forward and honest: they’re about sex appeal.  People talk about this like it’s a sport.  It’s disturbing and I believe, destructive.

This is not what health is all about.  Because I have read so much written by competitors and former competitors, I know a lot about the risks to your metabolism and mental health that are a part of attaining the figures you see on stage.  I know about the weeks of intense dieting down before a show, dehydrating yourself, etc.  I know these women don’t look like this year round.  And I’ve read the tragic and heart-breaking stories about eating disorders and hormonal breakdowns for years to follow.

But does your average person know all this?  Does your average woman looking at the model on the cover of Oxygen at the grocery store with the fitness competitor physique know what that model did to look like that?  I don’t think so.  I certainly didn’t know.  I remember seeing fitness models for the first time and thinking: WOW, now that’s “healthy”.  Because I used to be ignorant about these subjects too, like most people are.   Why would you know what they do to prepare for a show or photo shoot unless you were somehow involved in it?

The image of the super-fit woman is taking the place of the image of the super-skinny woman, and I don’t see it as an improvement,  any more attainable, or any healthier.  In fact, you cannot attain the “ideal” figure, because if you do lose enough body fat, you will lose your breasts as well.  There’s nothing wrong with small breasts, but the “ideal” fitspo figure is ripped with larger breasts.  The only way to get that figure is with surgery.

If a woman chooses to get breast implants, that’s her business, her body, and I sincerely hope it makes her happy and I am happy for her if so.  However, I would like to work toward a world where less women felt there was anything wrong with their natural breasts and where less women felt that they needed to have surgery to change their cup size.  It becomes my business when the image of health and fitness requires plastic surgery.  It pains me when I think about women suffering through having themselves cut up and sewn back together and all the health risks that go along with it because they believe their bodies aren’t good enough without surgery.

I really wish that more women would value the things we can do, our hearts and minds, and the differences we can make in the world beyond our outer packages and sexuality.  The bikini competition was a striking example of everything that is wrong with how too much of the world sees women.  We are not objects existing solely for the viewing pleasure of others.  We should not be pitted against each other solely based on our outer appearances.  I did not find it empowering.  I found it distressing.

I believe there is a place for these competitions.  There are pageants of many kinds in the world.  But they do not exemplify health and fitness any more than Miss America exemplifies intellectual achievement.  They should not be held up as the gold standard of physical fitness.  Health and fitness are about well-being, physical and mental, not what you look like on the outside.  Empowerment is about what you can do, not the appearance of your body.

65 thoughts on “Breast Implants, Bikini Competitions, and Female Empowerment

  1. Amazing article and insights, well said! I am a Bikini competitor and quite frankly everything you said has been a thought in my head many times. The competition look is so incongruent with my personal values and the way I live my life, it is a struggle sometimes to reconcile my love of the healthy training with the unnatural stage finished product. For all the reasons, including the fake breasts (as I am a natural chest competitor) I continue to question how this industry got to this point…but I guess the answer is simply $$$, hey?!

  2. Stripper heels show the calf muscle. Allow me to rephrase, high heels show calves. Placing stripper in front of it was your choice of words. Turning around showing a butt sticking out is related to showing the competitiors have been working on their glutes. It’s pride in the three hours of working out each competitor puts into their bodies. I think that before we judge or make harsh statements one should take the time to understand the work and effort put into these competitions.

    1. One should also note that there are big differences in the appearances and training habits of competitors in fitness, figure, bikini, and bodybuilding. They aren’t synonymous, nor do the women on Oxygen’s cover/features reflect “extreme” or supplemented bodybuilding.

      Competitive, elite athletes of any type form their own subcultures that may seem very bizarre to those not involved in it. These are adults who make the choice to work as hard as they do to get the results and accolades from that community. They are a very, very small percentage of the fitness world; not even most dedicated gym rats have the time or natural ability to pursue the extremely demanding lifestyle or achieve the necessary physique.

      As for “all bodies are good bodies,” that’s canned PC-speak. Same as saying “all calories are the same,” or “there are no such things as ‘good’ foods and ‘bad’ foods.” The womens’ bodies you speak of are the result of a conscious choice, not a laissez-faire life. They don’t care if anyone else understands why they do it.

      1. You may think it’s “canned PC speak” but I truly believe it. All bodies are good bodies – fat, thin, muscular, natural, enhanced, tall, short, white, brown, black, etc. Your body doesn’t make you “good” or bad. It is not for me or anyone else to say how anyone should look, eat, exercise, or take care of themselves.
        And I also believe there are no “good or bad” foods. Attaching morality to food is destructive. Just like attaching morality to outward appearances is destructive. Morality is about the things you do in this world and how you treat yourself and others.

      2. Morality is also about how you treat your God-given/miracle of science (whichever you believe) body…the one and only body you will ever have. How you take care of it reflects your morals. I never said a person’s physique makes them a good or bad person. But people certainly can and do disrespect their bodies by treating them badly…with bad food choices and bad habits.

    2. Oh come on, why aren’t bodybuilders and male and female physique competitors “showing their calves” in lucite heels then? Why aren’t these same other categories sticking their asses out suggestively to show their glute development?

      Bikini is about sex appeal. If you like it, you like it, but don’t try to pretend these elements of posing and judging are about anything else.

    3. I agree with you AIMEE, the person that wrote this obviously doesn’t understand the dedication and perservance it takes to get to this level of competing…. its a shame really that more people don’t understand the sport

      1. So your solution is what? Women should be barefoot during the competition? Since when was there something wrong with wearing high heels? Especially if it emphasizes a part of your body you’re proud of?

  3. I could not agree more. I know very little about the world of body building but I came across some footage of female body builders a few months ago, when I was idly thinking about where my new found love of weight training could take me, and was amazed. I expected to see strong powerful women but saw exactly what you describe. I actually found it disrespectful, offensive and it completely put me off even thinking about getting anywhere near involved. I take the point above about high heels showing the calves, and sticking out your bum shows the glutes – and I would see the funny side if the men had to undergo the same humiliations – but they don’t. I’m also of the opinion that breast implants empower nobody and the wigs etc are certainly pure porn/stripper chic. Not good at all.

    1. but men do go through the same humilitation, they wear thongs to show off your their muscle definition.The judges are looking for hamstring/glute definition. A very very difficult part of the body to exercise.

  4. ..but hang on here, let’s be honest they are “stripper” shoes we wear (and yes I compete)….clear strap over foot, high see-through platform…stripper or drag queen shoes, whichever one you prefer. But they are not simply high heels, can’t buy these kind of shoes in a commercial store, only adult shop stores or gay shoe shops! TISNAD is not saying we don’t work hard, just that the ‘accessories’ don’t match the fitness industry!

    1. Exactly. Of course they work hard. I didn’t say anything about how hard they work. There is an EXTREME amount of dedication involved in this. But I can’t help but wonder where else that dedication could lead other than this. Hard work is one thing, but it’s a means to what end? I’ve never seen heels like that anywhere other than a strip club and now this competition. I’m pretty sure most people would refer to them as “stripper heels” including most competitors.

    2. Clear shoes is a stereotype and stigma people have placed on it but oh well. No sense in hanging out in a post where everyone wants to critize the industry i’m so very proud to be a part of.

      1. If you can’t see the sexuality in the bikini competitions and the way it differs from the presentation of the male competitors, you have your eyes closed. Notice I said nothing about the lack of clothing- I understand that’s part of seeing the body and the musculature and the men wear very little clothing as well. But I’ve seen male strippers, and the men do not at all mimic them. I’ve seen female strippers too, and the bikini competition borrowed quite a bit from that universe (large breast implants, shoes, hair, heels, poses, walk, etc)

    3. I have lifted weights and kept fit for many years. I have never had a desire to compete, just want to feel good- no fake breasts or anything. Just a somewhat healthy life style and lots of fitness. I never knew anything about the world of women’s competition until Facebook where I friended a few women that were into it and could see photos posted from competitions. I too was shocked at how bizarre the whole thing seemed. The shiny suits, high heels, super dark fake tans, unseemly poses. I immediately thought; Wow I am NOT into all that! I don’t want to put judgement on women who are- a good friend of mine used to compete-but I can totally understand where a person would get the wrong idea about the whole thing. It is so far removed from the work I have done with my own body and health, how I feel etc. it just seems very foreign.

  5. Great article. No doubt you will ruffle some feathers, but let’s be honest here – these are some harsh truths. I have many friends who compete, and I almost did myself but thankfully it didn’t happen. I feel that the lifestyle is extremely unhealthy and those who gravitate towards it are often those with seriously unhealthy body images or extreme, often obsessive behaviours, or sadly, have diseases such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia or similar.

    Kudos to you. The fitness industry needs a wake up call so big it smacks everyone in the face. Thank you for creating awareness.

  6. This is a great post, simply because it creates awareness. A lot of people don’t realize how unhealthy these bodies are. I also am a former fitness competitor but after one season was digusted with the industry, because it simply had NOTHING to do with healthy fitness. That was almost ten years ago and it’s gotten even worse since then. I realize the effort these athletes put into getting on stage, and I deeply respect someone who is that dedicated, I can’t help think if someone is that disciplined and committed just imagine what they could do in other areas, if they weren’t chained to the gym all the time.
    I also have a huge problem being judged simply by how I look (or I guess in fitness it was 50% of how I looked and 50% by my routine-but it’s the same shit) I cannot put in 2-4 hours day into working out anymore simply because I have more important things to do with my time, where I get to use my intelligence and functional strength. If it makes someone else happy then ya I agree with Kate, go for it. I have to question though if they really are happy? I know I wasn’t, I was a freakn mess and so were many many of my co-competitors. I specifically remember one friend looking at a tree and bursting into tears, because she thought it looked sad and so was she!?!?!?!? WTF, this is what we’re doing to ourselves, all in the name of attaining a look/standard that some crazy industry says is sexy! I couldn’t take it anymore.
    The world needs less judgement and even less judgement based on fake, unrealistic sexual appeal. This industry is the opposite end of the spectrum and growing in popularity, I can’t even tell you how sad this makes me. So in an effort to do my part in this world, I make my living by undoing what the bodybuilding industry has done to people and I love it.

    1. Thank you for this comment. It’s good to hear someone who was involved weighing in and understanding what I’m saying. I agree 100%, especially about the part about what people might accomplish if they weren’t so busy working on the outer package.

  7. I think this post is awesome. I applaud you for posting it. I have similar beliefs. I used to aspire to be in a figure competition. But then I came to realize it was consuming my thoughts and energy to try and achieve an unrealistic goal. PS. I agree, in good fun, everyone calls them stripper shoes 😉

  8. Great article and so true. I am a figure competitor, which is really same shit, different day. I have witnessed shows where there was a CLEAR standout on stage, but someone else won, b/c of “politics,” and who knows what else. :-/
    That, along with the sexualization and other things you mentioned, it truly is disheartening, and has really sullied the sport. I will say though, that a small segment of this population seems to have found that balance that is so elusive to the majority of competitors. I have an amazing coach who truly is concerned not only with my physique and health the day of the show, but more importantly, the day after and the day after that. He realizes this physique is literally FOR ONE DAY, and it’s not worth destroying one’s metabolism for the rest of one’s life. I am currently prepping for a show, and… I EAT. A LOT. INCLUDING CARBS. I don’t do 3 hours or even 1.5 hours of cardio/day. I don’t take extraneous “supplements.” I spend ample time with my family, every day. I still do the other things I love to do. And I know when I step on stage, I will be the best version of myself, and that the day after I will go back to my normal life (and physique), and that’s ok, too. So there are some of us who place competiting in the proper perspective and recognize that it’s not the end all be all. I think there are a lot more of us than many people realize, and like, anything else, there are a few bad apples.

    1. I totally agree with you and Kudos to you! I will be entering my first competition ever in May of 2014….the year I turn 60! I will be in the best physical shape of my life – my coach is AMAZING, and is truly concerned about the whole me…before, during and most importantly after the competition; and while I find some truths in the posts, most of the competitors that I’ve met are healthy, physically fit women – and range in ages from early 20’s to 60’+s. They as well as I eat healthy whole (“clean”) foods, and embrace a lifestyle following just that – a balance of good foods with adequate and appropriate exercise, with plenty of time for all the other things in life. Nothing I am doing is causing me to “starve” myself – in fact I’ve never been in better shape!

  9. As someone going into eating disorder counseling…which for everyone’s knowledge has the HIGHEST early mortality rate of a psychological disease… I have to call out NORMA who likened eating habits to morality and then contradicted it by saying it DIDN’t dictate a person as good or bad. I can only assume what she meant is that how you treat your body may be a reflection of your idea of your own VALUE not your personal MORALITY.

    I agree with this article even though I have friends and family who compete, and FYI the differance between high heels and stripper heels is LUCITE…and yes what I see on stage are stripper heels…and really, showing your glutes requires a wiggle and shake too? How ridiculour would the guys look doing that!

    Bottom Line…whether your goal is to compete in these or not it isn’t a judgement on ANYONES worth but I do think these women are in a position to take back fitness from the pornish image and place it back in it’s rightful place of powerful Amazonian women not some subserviant male cartoon image of a superheroine. I would cringe to ever see my daughter define herself by the current female standard of fitness competitions.

  10. I’m not really sure that people in the industry, judges and bodybuilders alike, are suggesting that they’re the healthiest, sexiest people and we should all follow in their footsteps. I actually don’t believe that at all. LIfe’s about being happy and they’re living theirs the way it makes them happy. End of story. It’s that simple. It doesn’t mean they’re trying to change the world, or they’re model citizens that we should emulate. But we should emulate them…with our own pursuit of happiness, whatever that may be. I’m an artist, professional pool player, former athlete and now musician. I do things that make me happy and I don’t give a rats behind who isn’t interested in the same things. Just because the rest of the world doesn’t share my passion for billiards doesn’t mean I shouldn’t get to enjoy my time with it, and for no other reason other than I just want to. If people don’t like the sport, they can head across to the other side of the casino and play some slots. I don’t care and neither do they. We both did what made us happy and that’s all that mattered. And if people don’t agree with what body builders do, how they carry themselves, what shoes they wear and what poses the judges make them do before they reward them for their life-long dedication and commitment to something they love, they can change the channel to Cake Boss and be done with it. Everybody wins! Live and let live my friends.

    1. You are absolutely correct Chris, I love what you wrote. If you don’t like the industry, don’t be in it and/or don’t watch it. There really was no point to the blog post other than lip pursing, shaming and finger wagging.

      1. If you don’t want to be watched, don’t get on stage. This is the point of this blog post: Fitness and health are not a look.
        If competing in these things makes you happy, great! But don’t pretend it’s anything other than what it is: a beauty pageant.

      2. Agreed K8! A gf of mine competed. And came third. But she was so disgusted with the overt sexualisation of the competition supported by the fake boobs / hair / eyelashes / nails, and the garish sparkly bikini and stripper shoes she needed to wear, that she never did it again. It was certainly not the outcome she expected from her investment of 3.5 hours a day training, 6 days a week. She told me she felt like she was in a porn beauty pageant and regretted inviting her parents. She also noticed that the girls with the sexiest “look” and moves seemed to consistently do better than the more natural looking girls, irrespective of muscle form.

  11. You nailed it on the head! I was training for a bikini competition and had to stop doing all the activities I loved and stop eating what I loved and had a gut instinct that this can’t be the ideal of health, which is what these women should be showing. How can the week before a competition be held by the unhealthiest habits? I ended up damaging my metabolism and not being able to compete and I think it is a blessing in disguise. More emphasis is put on posing than your physique. I don’t have fake boobs and I didn’t want to dye my hair platinum blonde. I had a better body when I was training for a marathon and eating how I wanted. I kick myself now because I was going to use the training to get in shape for my wedding and I am now 20lbs up from my normal weight. I had high blood pressure during my training and now the minute I stopped the training and went back to being normal and running my blood pressure went down. Those competitions breed eating disorders and body image issues! I love your post on the media diet as well, what a great spin on things.

  12. A little over a year ago I started to train with a figure competition in mind (I was going about it all wrong, but still…). I received some advice from fellow competitors, telling me I have a better shape and size for bikini. So I checked out some bikini competition videos online and I was a little bit taken aback. I totally understand the lack of clothing (in all divisions) and the use of super-high heels, and the reason for the types of posing. But when the women turned around to show their glutes, I had a flashback to biology class in college, learning about how certain animals “present” themselves for mating. And I decided that there was no way I could do that. Figure, being not-as-suggestive, I thought I could do. My husband is a pastor. When we realized that even in figure I would have to hide my training and competing from our congregation because of its suggestive nature and skimpy suits, and then the training and eating completely consumed my thoughts and life…it was time to stop. I still would love to compete in figure (not bikini!) someday, but for my particular life situation (husband is a pastor, everything I do affects him) and sometimes obsessive personality (which leads to unhealthy obsessing over competing), I have to fight that urge and try to have a more “normal” training and eating routine. It’s hard. I’m competitive. But I also need to respect myself, my husband, and my body.

  13. The statement all bodies are beautiful is totally PC. I am all set with PC! YES…everyone is beautiful inside and out BUT in this day and age let’s be REAL…NOT everybody thinks or feels that way….especially if you are up on stage. I have been to figure/body building shows where the competitors look AMAZING but I hear the critics in the audience criticize them for not “dieting down” enough or they are not “symmetrical” or the have “no tits” or some other nasty, mean comment…even though that person looks phenomenal but not “perfect”. (Sorry to say this is the girl with no boobs or the one who has a little cellulite on her thighs thanks to genetics). If you were in the gym next to them you would be in awe…but up on stage it’s a different ball game. However, yes…I guess the “perfect” ones should win, but to hear the awful put downs against people who work so hard and look phenomenal in their own right disgusts me.

    Another reality check…if you don’t have awesome hair or breast implants, most likely you cannot win. Sad but true.

  14. Fabulous article. Well said.m I a, a previous fitness competition. Everything you have said is spot on!!! I did it twice, and will not do it again, as my own mental/physical health has been compromised. That said….I loved every minute of the training and doing the shows. I loved the feeling and the physical results,

  15. Just an FYI about the “stripper” heels…they require clear heels so that the competitor’s shoes don’t distract the judges in any way, they are 3-5 inches so that the calves are tight while you walk and pose. If each girl got to chose her shoes like she chooses her suit we’d have competitions swayed by the shoe choice, this way it’s simply to accentuate what needs to be accentuated, nothing more. As far as the whole “porn” image that is being suggested, I suppose if the girls are licking their lips before they turn around or grabbing/slapping their behinds you could say something like that, but they are simply trying to be sexy, as the bikini or fitness model image is a sexy one, I might also add that in most of those categories it isn’t the skinniest woman who wins , it’s the one who is best proportioned (from top to bottom); is completely confident about her body (however it may be, real, fake whatever, if she’s happy with it, it shows); and who shows off what her total package is in the best manner.

  16. Sounds to me like jealousy has overcome you….I compete in bikini used to do figure and the time and dedication it takes in the gym and in life is about fitness….some.girls go overboard on the boobs but who cares its their body and the back pose is to show the glutes and hamstrings after don’t want a cellulite ass and no leg development to each their own but I wouldn’t rip on these women its hard work competing….

    1. Cathy, I am an NPC Bikini Competitor. I have been competing for about a year now and have placed quite well. I am also an educated successful career woman, a wife and mother of two kids. Most of the other bikini competitors I know are are also educated career women with advance degrees. You obviously do not know anything about this sport and most important, know anything about the women who take part in it. And yes, I hate to break it to you, but it is possible to be beautiful and smart. So with tha being said, how would you solve World Peace? I doubt even the smartest man or woman could give the correct or perfect answer to that condescending question.

  17. Very well said, thank you for this. As women we need to look at how our actions towards our physical and emotional health influence the younger generation. I want the younger generation to see women as strong and confident that love themselves inside and out not insecure and willing to go through diet extremes and go under the knife because they believe it will make them more beautiful and accepted by society. As an athlete I do not see fitness competitors as athletes they train like them but the competition is a beauty pageant. Athletes always properly fuel their bodies and the result is how they preform in competition not how they “look” in competition.

  18. Wow! I’m preparing for a competition in 2014 and posts like this are why women are the way they are! I’m not starving myself or decreasing my water intake. In fact, I’m eating like a cow and I’m trying to get a gallon of water in me a day. I have always had large breasts so if mine shrink ( breasts are made up of fat anyway) which I’m pretty sure they will and all I will have left is skin, you better believe I will consider implants. Competing in bikini is very hard work whether you believe it or not! This is not some bar bikini type show. I bust my butt off in the gym everyday so I can get my body fat to a good level so I’ll show slight muscle, with good tone while keeping a soft figure. As far as blondes with extensions goes, I got told the same thing and my hair is real! If you want to know why they wear the “stripper shoes” as you call them ( I own a pair by the way) is so that the calves will flex along with the glutes. You can not flex in this class! Bikini did not come around until 2009. Read the rules on the NPC site and learn a little more about this before you bash something into the ground. As far as the food goes again, we aren’t born eating crap so why eat it? I don’t feel deprived of food in anyway, in fact I’m actually weaning myself off of sugar and I feel fantastic now that sugar is in my life anymore. The bikini class is fun and flirty and they judge you on looks, your body, skin tone and complexion, just like they would in a beauty pageant.

  19. Just a point about the high heels – or lack thereof – women in physique and full bodybuilding DONT wear heels, and they show off their calves just fine. As a bodybuilder myself (although not a competitive one), I do find bikini to be a division more based on sex appeal, figure a bit less so, fitness, physique and full bodybuilding the least of all. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, and from what I’ve seen, the magazines show women from all these different divisions on the cover – not just bodybuilding. Yes, men watch bikini for the sexuality of it, but so what? Sex isn’t a bad thing. As pointed out, these are women, not children – if they want to be sexy on stage, I think that much more power to them.

    1. Perhaps the ‘bikini’ division was introduced to get bums on seats to what would otherwise have been perceived as comps with far less ‘mass market’ (ie sex) appeal? At the end of the day isn’t ‘bikini’ just a beauty pageant for muscly girls ie musclier than the average beauty queen? Once you understand that it all makes sense. I think the point of the original post though was that the way its tuck into these bigger comps gives the impression that its about ‘fitness’ and/or ‘health’ which it isn’t necessarily.

  20. I appreciate all the comments, both agreeing and disagreeing. One thing I do have to say though. Whether you like it or not, this is my personal reaction to watching a bikini competition. This is what I felt and thought while watching it. I don’t expect everyone to like it, but it’s my truth. And the idea that it’s due to “jealousy” is simply ridiculous. There’s a lot more to life than what you look like on the outside, and competing with other women for who is the most… sexy? hot? attractive? is not something I’d be into. That is exactly the opposite of something I would want to do. I think you all bikini competitors look lovely and should do whatever makes you happy. But personally, I prefer looking like me.

  21. From a guys’ perspective (and a bodybuilder to boot), I have to agree, but I think you only hit the nail on the head on the ENTIRE industry.

    I’ve been involved since the early 80’s and what I’ve seen over the years has been shocking.

    We used to have female “bodybuilders” like Cory Everson and Rachel McLish who were athletic, intelligent, and what I call “balanced”. The same can be said for male bodybuilders of the day like Frank Zane (late 70’s mind you), Rich Gaspari, and Lee Labrada who were athletic and again, “Balanced”.

    Something changed and you can blame Weider or whomever, but asthetics and athleticism flew out the window in favour of overall mass. We saw women looking like men (inclusion of the 5 o’clock shadow to boot), and men who looks like apes.

    It’s hard for anyone to take this industry seriously, especially an outsider looking in, when it’s turned into more and more of a freakshow at a local circus.

    1. Thank God for an ‘insider’ talking sense! I too used to see the competitors you mentioned and thought there had been a big shift. Rachel wasn’t blonde, Corey had short hair and I’ve seen plenty of posing where there was no butt-in-your-face-style moves and posing in (wait for it) NO STRIPPER SHOES. Thing you have to remember is that many of the modern-day competitors like the ladies commenting here are probably TOO YOUNG to remember any of that and so think what the deal is now is ALWAYS how its been when it simply is not. I bought Rachel’s ‘Pumping Up!’ book in about 1983 and all the images and content are as relevant as ever, the physiques are what you’re talking about ie athletic, strong, they can string a sentence together etc none of this ‘Barbie’ style piffle slapped over some muscle. THOSE were the days. Just goes to show not all change is ‘improvement’.

  22. I am in preparation for natural Physique, and I agree whole-heartledly with those who think Bikini or often even Figure are plastic and fake. I am disappointed that even in physique, which was supposed to hearken back to old school women’s bodybuilding by most accounts, still seems to be a realm where one cannot win without implants and a lot of pageantry that takes away from, rather than adds to the athleticism of the competition. Bodybuilding is something I do for fun, and I also want to compete for fun. I am not doubting for a minute that some women enjoy the “idea” of being a competitor, but I have yet to see a bikini hopeful or even competitor at the gym at the same time as me who is working anywhere near as hard, and who will go with no makeup, bag the unnecessarily skimpy outfit, stop talking to the boys and GET IT DONE. Maybe I am biased, but this has been my impression at most gyms I have gone to. I am stared at in disbelief by many for grunting, lifting heavy, and dropping the weights when I hit failure. I am not trying to put on a pain show, I am just doing what needs to be done to gain mass naturally. If I wanted to look like a Barbie Doll, I would enter a beauty contest, where such a look should (I suppose) be rewarded. I am a very feminine woman, and I don’t take steroids or “gear” as they are sometimes referred to by those who use them. If I work hard, build muscle, eat clean, and I don’t win on my own merit, so be it. But the categories where it’s unredeemingly ALL about the hair, make-up, sky high heels and bull@#$% poses that look like anything but a show of aesthetic musculature, truly give me pause. I find it degrading to all women athletes to call this bodybuilding. Call me extreme, but I can’ t imagine why these women want to compete in an athletic event and play pretend, when they could just as easily enter a local beauty contest and be done with it. Having a little dent in your arm and a flat stomach does not a bodybuilding competitor make. And if you need high heels to show off your calves…bitch, please. ( ;

  23. Click the link and listen to some of the amazing ladies that compete. There is even one on breast implants and most of these women have implants before they even thought about competing. So when they got their boobs, they got them to match them at that particular time with that particular body they had. They got smaller and of course they look bigger!

    I don’t think it’s degrading at all for anyone that wants to compete in any class! I find it very ugly and rude for most of the people on here to put the bikini class down. How about you go to a Fitness Expo and go up to these ladies and tell them what you think?

    As far physique women putting other classes down, you should be ashamed of yourself. You sound just like the beauty pageant girls I used to go against. Always coming to the show and putting other girls down. I’m doing a show in BIKINI this year and I have worked my butt off in the gym and the eating has been the hardest. Sure it’s not even close to what physique models go through but this was the class choice I chose. Most people find physique women gross. I find them motivating but to hear one on hear bash another division is outrageous! There are always a few out there that are always looking to bring someone else down!

    I’m going to feel proud to step on stage with my hooker heals, tan, makeup and hair done up like a Barbie! Cause I’m the only one that knows how hard the journey was and were I started from! I wasn’t skinny by no means and I busted my ass off to get to were I’m at now!

    1. Whats interesting is that I bet the very strong reactions against your post would have been far far less intense had you never been fat and weren’t saying that ‘every body is a good body’. Confirms my long-held view that HOW YOU LOOK definitely affects how people receive or interpret WHAT YOU SAY.

  24. I think it’s great that the people saying they aren’t judgmental actually are judgmental in their posts! It’s like saying you’re not racist and and following it with a racist comment. Live and let live and quit being critical of others, maybe focus on yourself. Also I’m sure people find what you do in your daily life just as ridiculous and disturbing as you find the industry your bashing. Do you knit? I think that’s stupid. Do you play computer games? What a waste of time. Are you employed? Ex: being a fat slob and unmotivated to accomplish anything other that leveling up on bejeweled may also be frowned upon by many. In this example yes I would say that someone who is passionate about their health, fitness, or even self image is better than you. Majority of these posts are annoying and ignorant, as equal as mine is. Get a grip

    1. What a thoughtful comment, really contributing to the discussion here.
      I don’t knit, but if I did, I’d be sure to get breast implants first and wear stripper heels, because that would surely make me healthy and fit! Cheers!

      1. I understand that bodybuilding as a sport is not for everyone, and that it is very strange-seeming to “civilians”. Frankly, I don’t care if some people think I look “gross”. Not even halfway through my cut, my muscles bulge and I get those types of looks from some. I keep my sense of humour. And it’s definitely not for everyone. It’s only for a few weeks that veins and separation show anyway. Too much water on us the rest of the time. I just ate chocolate mousse and pizza, and I get to have that twice a week if I want it. I eat 2100 calories the rest of the days. I work out 90 minutes at weights, 6 days a week, and no more than 30 minutes of cardio. I do it for me, and it’s healthy and balanced. I am a college professor and have a PhD. I love bodybuilding, but I have a life outside of it and I have many other goals and achievements. As I teach my students, it’s important to have a goal to spur you on!

        I think that any woman on steroids (or man for that matter) looks overblown and unnatural. Natural physique is not like this. It takes a number of years to achieve what you see on stage for my category. I have been working at it seriously for almost four years now. One can prep for a Bikini contest in 3-6 months if one starts at a normal weight.

        In any event, we are all partial to our own categories. I am an endomorph, and couldn’t be competitive in Bikini even if I wanted to do it. I’m too big. I have heard it said by those in my category and others, that Bikini is more of a diet contest than anything. It seems that way looking at it from the outside, especially from what I see at the gym. Like I said, I am biased. Deal with it.

        I am barefoot onstage, just like the men are. I wear a plain bathing suit, and my hair in a bun so they can see my musculature, which is what my category is about. As with steroid use, looking like a Barbie Doll is also not natural, and in my opinion looks “gross”. The women’s chests have been mutilated to meet an impossible yet supposedly desirable aesthetic. Whether done before or after one takes up bodybuilding, it still sends a strong message to women that a natural chest is inadequate and in some categories, something to be ashamed of. To me, that is really upsetting. As a woman and educator, I want to represent health and vibrancy to the young women that look up to me. It makes me sad to think of them feeling less than because society tells them that they must meet an unnatural standard of beauty that involves cutting their bodies open.

        Bikini sells tickets and gets butts in seats, apparently, for bodybuilding shows. Hey, whatever works. I prefer to have no plastic parts. I prefer to compete on an even playing field that allows for no unnatural enhancements. Otherwise, it’s a beauty contest, plain and simple. If men had to compete against men with pec implants…well, you get the picture.

  25. Just want to add that watching the videos made it even worse for me. The way the bikini competitors walk, pose, just everything….ick! Hey, I am not saying they don’t look great in bikinis…but it’s embarrassing how stripper like and only based on sex appeal their poses are. I don’t understand why this is even a category. Man up and at least do figure, or just go be miss Hawaiian tropic or something.

    1. I’m starting in Bikini and working my way up instead of back down because I don’t have the figure body yet. This is a great starting point for anyone that wants to get their foot in the door. I’ve studied this category over and over and have chosen a federation to go with. One that is tasteful and that has strict rules about certain poses and ass shaking on stage. Bikini fitness competitions and bar bikini competitions are not the same thing. In fact, I watched one and the one that had muscle tone and the one that worked out lost to the other lady that has never worked out. It’s funny you say it’s embarrassing but for crying out loud, these women bust their butts! I bust mine everyday in the gym, lifting heavy, grunting and so forth!

      I’ve been lifting heavy for 2 years and being short, 5’0, I’m having a hard time gaining. You may not like it but I’ve already inspired a ton of moms in my town and I’ve inspired a 49 year old woman to get on stage.

      You say bikini sells tickets, well your wrong!! I did a poll and most of the men are going to watch the Olympia this weekend to see the men’s bodybuilding! I’m watching it to see the womens physique, which is the first year for this category.

      What is it with people still stuck on breast implants???? I have a dozen friends with implants that aren’t even in the fitness field and actually a few of them are now over weight. I have large breast and mine are real!! So does that make me a bimbo because I have the genes for big boobs!!

      I was teased all throughout Junior high because I was the only girl wearing a C cup and by high school I was a D!! Yes a D!! So now, I’m losing them because of the fat loss and lets face it, whey something that big shrinks, it doesn’t look very pretty!! My husband could care less but I’m the one that sees them and the skin that hangs. Would I consider an implant?? I sure would or even a small lift.

      For my first competition, I will get the Victoria Secrete inserts to have some sort of lift.

      Not every competitor has implants and that is not something they judge you on. Like I said, most of these women had them before the sport.

      I can name several bikini competitor, figure girls and physique models that don’t have fake boobs and that are IFBB pro. One just won her ticket to the Olympia at the Dallas Europa and she has no desire to have boobs.

      All these negative posts remind me of the 2 guys that had the nerve to tell me at the gym that I had a long way to go!! 2 men that had no room to talk!! How can you judge another person on their passion to compete or lose weight??

      As women, we have got to stop putting one another down!! Who cares if a grown woman chooses implants. Do you know her reason? What if she had cancer and had to have her breast removed and want’s to feel like a woman again! How about the thousands of competitors that have had tummy tucks because they were over weight or had children and the elasticity in there skin wasn’t good? I can point out several of these people onstage. Why have a tummy tuck then if you can’t have implants. Both are surgical procedures!! People say it isn’t jealousy, then why do you judge?? Pure evil perhaps since you say you’re not jealous!!

      I posted those video’s for you to hear the comments from the judge, not to judge their posing. Did you even see the woman that has lost 100 lbs and is wanting to become a body builder? Are you going to bash her?? I commend her for her journey and wanting to enter into the fitness world. It takes a lot of guts to compete because there are people like in this thread, the ones that judge people from afar and that stand in their click behind the curtain and never acknowledge the new girl.

      There is a lady at my gym that is competing in figure and she gets nasty comments about her appearance because of her lats and arms being so defined. Do I defend her or bash her like everyone on here does?? Hell no I don’t bash her!! I defend her because to look as amazing and it takes a ton of hard work. I’ve see her workout and she pushes me!!

    2. I’m happy in my shoes because I’m very short and the height makes me taller. It makes my legs look long and lean and helps the muscles pop. At 5’0 it kinda sucks. I have spider veins, stretch marks and some lose skin on my tummy from having a baby.

      If I could compete in figure starting off I would but I don’t have the shape just yet. I’m pretty sure I will be bigger in my traps than what you see on stage but this is a starting point for me. My goal is to work up to physique and hopefully grace the cover of a magazine and write articles about all these diet pills. I still support any woman that chooses bikini or whatever category. I work out 5 days a week and it isn’t a pretty site. It seems the girls in your gym are only there to flirt and look pretty, well I have those that only do cardio and aerobics classes at my gym too! I can count on one hand the amount of women that enter the weighted area and those are my clients.

      *I have a shirt that says “REALLY”, and the 2 L’s are those stupid 2lb DB’s
      *Another shirt of mine says “skinny girls look good in clothes but fit girls look better naked”

      I can appreciate a beautiful body no matter if it’s very muscular or toned. That’s why I became a personal trainer and fitness nutritionist. I help women to look past what their mind and eyes see in the mirror and to tell them that a number on the scale doesn’t define them as a person.

  26. I publish MOST comments, but will not publish those that call me a “bitch”. If you don’t like my blog, don’t read it. Also, I think I was quite respectful in how I worded this post. But people read what they want to read into it. I think all bodies are beautiful and if you want to get fake boobs and wear stripper heels, go for it. The problem is that this appears to be REQUIRED for this “sport”. If you actually READ the words in my post, you will see I am saying that this should not be held up as the ideal of HEALTH AND FITNESS because it has nothing to do with that. If you want to do it because it’s fun and sexy, go for it, just don’t pretend that it makes you healthier than anyone else.

      1. Sorry, changed my moniker by accident! Can you change DrDiva to read Lovelychanteuse, please? Thank you!

  27. Well said. I too just came to this realization. I guess I was naively thinking these women were just blessed. I know they work very hard but I’ll take 15% body fat, my own boobs and the occasional gelato to keep them any day.

  28. I am two weeks away from doing a bikini competition. I am having serious doubts about if I should do it though. The reason I joined was because my friends were doing it and I was feeling left out. So now I’ve spent about $1000 for everything and have been going to the gym every single day for 3 weeks. I love my body. I just don’t know if I should be doing this though? Am I even comfortable with having people look at my body more than half naked. My fiancée isn’t very fond of me doing this, although he will support whatever I choose to do. He said he doesn’t want other guys sexualizing me. I am not 100% passionate about this, but I feel if I don’t go on stage I will be a quitter. Can someone please give me advice? I am so torn about what to do.

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