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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bodybuilding vs Bold and Beautiful

It has been a week since my last entry which is due to a combination of slackness, piles of work and not that much to write about.

I'm feeling really fit at the moment, although yesterday I felt pretty tired during my run at lunchtime, so I'm not running today. Hopefully I'll get out to Track Times tomorrow morning for a speed session ahead of the Race for life on Sunday. Looking forward to the last Corporate Cup race next week.

Last night I saw a program called Shock Docs on channel 8+1. Not my usual taste in TV, but the two subjects were very interesting. First was a story about English female bodybuilder Joanna Thomas' journey to the Olympia titles in Las Vegas. The second story was about the Bold and Beautiful Beauty Pageant, a beauty contest for women over size 18.

I'm a bit torn over these two stories as I think that both may promote unhealthy lifestyles. I'm not saying that the women in either of the competitions didn't have some form of beauty (although some of the contestants really did have me wondering what could be described as beauty). I actually thought some of them were quite attractive, but the underlying health issues were a real concern.

The bodybuilding girls seemed to be engaging in some fairly risky practices such as fasting, dehydration, extremely low bodyfat %, unnecessary cosmetic surgery, and presumably some form of pharmaceutical assistance. My initial reaction to this story was that many of the women did not look natural or feminine. The weird part is that I've seen plenty of physique and figure competitors who are muscley, attractive and feminine, and seem to achieve this through fairly healthy lifestyles. So are the different divisions two totally different sports, or is the bodybuilding just a more extreme form of the the same behaviour? I don't know, but I'd like to find out.

On the other hand, the BBWs were basically glorifying obesity. I know they are saying that they are happy with the way they are, but it says to all obese people that it is OK to be that way. Well it is not. I accept that we shouldn't discriminate against obese people, but I think it is incorrect to condone it.

I think that despite the fact that I had a stonger negative initial reaction to the bodybuilding women, in hindsight I actually respect that form of lifestyle more than the BBW. The bodybuilders clearly have to work extremely hard and make enormous sacrifices to compete. The BBW really don't have to do anything other than eat too much and then make themselves look beautiful. One group is rewarded for extreme hard work and sacrifice, the other is rewarded for no hard work at all. Or am I missing something here?

8 comments:

Rachel said...

I like the bodybuilding lifestyle other than the drugs and the competition prep in the last few weeks or so where they do some crazy stuff with dieting and dehydration. I think that's what takes it too far. I really admire the discipline to eat healthily and train hard at the gym. I think it's a good lifestyle to follow if you are not going right to the competition level.
Oh, and I'm pretty sure the only difference between the physique and figure from the bodybuilding category is the drugs!!

A Girl Running said...

Both stories were alarming. I found myself wondering if the body builder had actually been born a female as she sounded and looked very masculine (I refer to the facial features and not the body...although something didn't look right when she was walking around naked either!??)

I think it's great if you can feel comfortable in your own skin but agree that unhealthy body types should not be glorified

Tesso said...

I missed the very beginning and was also wondering if Joanna was a trannie or born a boy and if his particular Olympia contest was for others like her.

As for which lifestyle is the better, I guess the big girls can always lose weight and look forward to a healthy future. You wonder what long term damage the bodybuilders have done.

Personally I'd rather look like someone out of the real "Bold and the Beautiful" than any of the girls on Shock Docs :-)

Wardman said...

I agree both approaches are unhealthy. I admire certain aspects of the bodybuilder's training, namely the dedication and commitment level required to be successful in that arena. But I have to say that many aspects of their approach are hypocritical for a supposedly 'healthy' pursuit, and the overall aim/outcome is not something I understand. Each to their own I guess but the end result just seems unnatural to me.

Re the BBW, didn't see it but can only imagine it must have been in America? If so, no wonder their obesity problem is so significant when they celebrate it in such a way. quite sad regardless of location.

Bay said...

I totally agree Dave, I think you have the right of it - neither is particularly healthy. Training hard with weights is great, but competition seems to warp that. I've watched a friend compete in body building, do the protien drinks and steroids, complete with liver failure and death (thankfully revived after 2.5 minutes). The flip side is obesity - now costing Australia ~ $21 bn a year! I agree with "a girl running", it's great to feel good in your body, but I never feel better than a couple of hours after a good, hard run (usually being pushed by Dave....). But, I think I'm preaching to the converted!

Ewen said...

I guess there are no docos about 'average runners' so you didn't miss anything Dave.

Extremism in bodybuilding is alarming because it doesn't seem healthy. It could be argued that elite distance runners are 'extreme', but by neccessity, they have to be healthy, or they won't make it through the next training session.

Em said...

I think with the BB types it is anything goes, but the body sculpting stuff is natural, ie no drugs. I find it all very odd that a woman would want to do that to herself and all the high protein dieting is very suspect.

As for the "I'm OK the way I am body acceptance" all very warm and fuzzy but sorry ladies, it aint healthy.

Anonymous said...

A real bodybuilding lifestyle (without the drugs and severe competition diets/dehydration) is and always be one of the best ways to improve body composition, endocrine response, boold sugar regulation and even some cardovascular fitness. I've been around this industry for over 20-years and the busines is ready for an evolution. Something more realistice needs to be marketed andpromoted, so that the daredevils are back in the cellar. No doubt the discipline to eat healthily and train hard at the gym, is a lifelong endevour, not a fleeting chance at glory on stage. BTW, it is true that the only difference between the physique and figure from the bodybuilding category is the drugs!!