Reported by Cheryl Whiting
Female body builders have more options when it comes to competing on stage and showing off their hard work than they did 15 years ago, and the sport is moving towards a less muscular look.
There are four divisions in women’s bodybuilding based on size and height; bikini, figure, physique, and bodybuilding, with increasing muscularity required for each category.
The ideal body image for women is diverse
Peter Crocker, a professor at the School of Kinesiology at UBC who has published papers on high-level women athletes, said the so-called ideal for women’s bodies is constantly changing.
“I would say there’s less constraints on women and what they can do and what they should look like,” he said. “Overall I think women have access to more diverse bodies.”
Wayne Carlin, the vice-president and head judge with the BC Amateur Bodybuilding Association (BCABBA), said that figure is a newer category that was invented in the early 2000s.
He said prior to this there was only men and women’s bodybuilding and thinks the women’s bodybuilding division will phase out in the next few years, to be replaced by the physique category.
“It’s more of aesthetic lines that you look for, more femininity and not as bulkier type muscles,” he said. “It’s our job as judges to make that stay that way so we don’t keep getting bigger and bigger every year.”
Drug use in body building competitions aren’t tested regularly
Shelby Maletz-Comm, 23, first got into competitive body building in university.
She competes in the figure division at events in British Columbia, and said some competitions don’t drug test, but that she has decided to only compete in natural events.
“One thing I really take a lot of is greens powder; that’s the only supplement I can say I wouldn’t give up,” she said. “For the most part I don’t take any supplements,” she said.
Crocker said that he thinks bodybuilding is healthy overall, though he has concerns about the potential abuse of anabolic steroids in women’s bodybuilding.
“I know in male body building that was a huge issue,” he said. “If people are taking steroids they’re obviously compromising their health profiles.”