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 Female Bodybuilders: When Did It Begin?

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While men's bodybuilding began in the late 19th century, it wasn't until 1978 with the U.S Women's National Physique Championship that female bodybuilding was seen in a contest in which participants were judged only for muscularity. Rachel McLish won the first Ms.Olympia contest in 1980. Previosuly bodybuilding and powerlifting amongst women was rare; however, the acceleration of fitness fanatics in the 1980s prompted a new ideal; to 'reconstruct a masterpiece, sculpt your body into a work of art' (Fit magazine, in Bordo, 1993).
During the 1980s bodybuilding competitions even encouraged women not to become too muscular for fear of losing feminity. Although by the mid 1980s a bulked-up body was seen as more acceptable due to Bev Francis and her extensivemuscularity, Heywood (1998, p.270 blames its decline in the 1990s to be due to fitness competitions becoming more popular as it 'emphasises femininity, sexual appeal and performance'.
Today bodybuilders are taking it a step further. Angela McNamara is the 2009 Irish, European and World Champion powerlifter who has also won Miss Ireland in bodybuilding. She also holds 3 world records and aims to show that powerlifters can both powerlift and bodybuild; both needing different body physicalities and strengths, and hopes to promote the idea that people can do both with determination. Which makes a lot of us feel bad when we can't shift that extra pound we wanted to!