Female Bodybuilders

Body building is a predominately male world. Women for the most part are to be seen as being feminine and maternal and womanly. So to see a women who is heavily built and muscular can be a shock to some people. I think it comes down to a lack of understanding more than anything. Usually, if we don’t understand something, we find it threatening and can perceive it as being offensive and therefore we fear it.
Because women naturally have more body fat than men, they have to work just as hard or even more so than men. It is a complete lifestyle choice and the dedication put in is by far more than a lot of people would put in to something. The passion to look a certain way is what drives weight lifting enthusiasts to live this way. Weight training with competing in mind takes over your life. Some people quit their jobs to pursue careers in body building. If this can’t be done then it is work, gym, sleep and repeat. It is seen as an obsession by some people but to those who live it every day it is a way of life.
Meal preparation is a major factor in weight training. Meals have to be planned for every day of the week and their eating regime is stuck to religiously.
‘Bulking up’ is just of the many phrases used in weight training. Basically, you have to be eating a lot of the right foods to pile on the pounds that can then be trained and made into muscle. Women have exactly the same routine as a man would training.
We see more and more people everyday, especially because of social media networks, training and keeping fit, some more extreme more than others. People can be offended by heavily muscled people and say that it isn’t natural or right. But can we also not say this for people who are morbidly obese and have an obsession with food, or those that are underweight and have an obsession with not eating? Whichever way you look at it, whatever someone does and however someone looks, there will always be people offended by it. And this is usually either down to jealousy or lack of understanding.
I think when it comes to female body builders it is more a lack of understanding and that someone is not conforming to what is perceived as being ‘normal’
I think most of us nowadays couldn’t define what ‘normal’ is anyway.
Women, I can imagine struggle mentally more than men when competing and training, just because of pressure and lack of understanding as to why they do it and why they want to do it.
Another subject which we here about more and more regarding training and weight lifting is the taboo word ‘steroids’.
Steroids have been around for a long time, but people seem a lot more open about them nowadays, and there is no getting away from the realisation that you can’t exactly hide the fact you are using them. Steroids transform your body in ways weightlifting alone could never do. The body begins to look monstrous almost and any natural appearance just goes away completely.
Certain body building competitions will only allow ‘natural’ competitors to enter. Steroids can not have aided you in your transition and drugs tests will be carried out. A lot of people do not like to use the word steroid and prefer the term ‘muscle enhancers’ which seem to sound less objectionable.
Someone who I have found fascinated by because of her transition is TV personality Jodie Marsh. All her training was done through hard work and dedication alone without the use of any muscle enhancers. Jodie is also a keen vegetarian and despite advice from her trainers stuck to her beliefs and stuck to being a vegetarian.

Here we see the old Jodie Marsh who caused quite a stir in her very revealing outfits and outward personality. Unfortunately for Jodie, because of how she used to look and act, people will always tar her with the same brush and see the same person. She is in fact a very humble lady who has had to endure hard times especially with bullying.


This has always effected her confidence and fueled her to become a person who is confident and who can use her own experiences to help others and she has definitely done that.
Jodie went on to train hard and compete in world known competitions and win.
A friend of mine has very recently competed in a competition known as ‘Miami Pro’. It is a for competitors with natural physiques only. ‘Miami Pro’ is a fitness modelling & body building federation.
My friend has transformed herself in the last 12 months and gone on to compete in her first competition. She did not win any awards but she is such a positive and focused lady this has spurred her on and she wants to keep training and working hard and compete again and again.
I would have loved to have taken some photographs of her but with her work and training schedule she unfortunately was just too busy.
However, she very kindly let me use one of her photos for my blog and also answered some questions for me so that I could get a personal account and insight into her training, lifestyle and what it was like to compete. 

This is just one of the photos taken whilst she was competing. The hard work and effort that she has and continues to put in really shows because she looks fantastic!

Here are the questions and answers:

What made you want to start weight training?
My cousin Dan is a personal trainer, he introduced me to gym life. I did baby but wanted more tone and to get stronger. I knew just doing cardio would not give me the definition I wanted so I slowly started lifting and seeing results. And being round such positive people made me want to get better.

Do you ever feel that people judge your lifestyle choice because you are female?
I feel I get judged in a positive way more than negative. I get told I am inspiring off other girls, they ask me to help them and say they wish they had the dedication. Even lads praise me too, asking for advice, you seem to get more respect.

I would say that those that judge are full of envy and only want to do what we do, so they may digs which I have never really had. In the end they will ask us how we do it.

If so – Would this effect you and your training whether it be positive or negative?
This would not effect my training but make me want to work harder and be more focused. It is almost turning a negative into a positive. In this in industry you learn more and more and realise who will help and guide you along the way.  We all have the same interests so we understand and stick together. Those who judge will only end up doing the same in the end.

How does it make you feel to see your physical appearance transforming?
To see my body change is amazing. I never really realised what changes can be made. our bodies are machines and can transform into better ones, you just have to put the work in.
I take pictures to see how my body has changed. It is definitely an art and is a good addiction. We fuel ourselves with good stuff and will end up looking good, simple! Eat rubbish, look rubbish! I have muscles I never even knew about.

As someone who has competed, did you feel added pressure by people to do well because you are female?
Not really any pressure as we help each other and give each other advice and tips. I find it a very open thing to do as everyone shares the same passion to do well. Since doing it I have gained so much confidence.
Have you found people to be more positive or negative towards your lifestyle since your training?
People are definitely positive about it. I get praised for it. When I first joined the gym, I was the only girl. Now more and more girls are wanting to lift. The realise what amazing positive people they can be around. I love that people ask me for advice, we all learn from each other.

It was really interesting to get an insight in to how a person who lives this kind of hectic, life changing lifestyle feels and especially about how other people react to it. And from my friend’s answers it sounds that it is a very positive activity all round. She has nothing but praise and positive feedback from other people which will obviously boost her confidence even more and make her want to carry on.


Framing Linear Drawings for the Exhibit

I had a discussion with Richard regarding my drawings and how they would be presented. Because of the way the drawings have been done, I knew they would look really effective in white frames which luckily were being used as part of displaying work for the exhibit.
We looked at some existing frames that were already in the studio to get an idea of how my drawings would look.
Jo and Jamie would at some point be making a trip to purchase more frames for everyone’s work. Initially I had asked for 3 A3 frames. Richard pointed out that A2 would actually be more effective, then the image would not look squashed up in the frame. I measured an existing frame which was perfect for my drawings. It measured 16.5 Inches across by 20.5 inches.

Two students very kindly went out to purchase all the frames for everyone. A small space in the studio had been kept closed off for students to prepare work that needed to go in frames. Then it would be protected and not at risk of being damaged whilst it was being framed.
I used this space when the frames were available.

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Before I put the drawings in the frames I made sure to wipe the glass first because there were little bits of dust on and these showed up quite noticeably on the glass.

Luckily the frames came with mounts. These really added to the effect when the drawings were in the frames. My friend Georgia assisted me whilst I framed all three of my drawings so I knew that they were in the correct position.


When they were all framed and put together the drawings looked even better. I was really happy with the outcome and my tutors were really positive and excited about how they looked and how well they would go in the exhibit alongside my paintings of Rhea.


Along with my tutors we thought they would look best with the two drawings of Rhea on the outside and Yvette in the middle.

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Because of how Rhea is positioned in the drawings it leads your eyes across each drawing and encircles Yvette in the middle which works really well.

Preparing The End of Year Show

Everyone in the Foundation course had to get suck in and help prepare the studio in time for hanging everyone’s work. I managed to get some photos of this taking place.
The studio looked completely different when it had been cleared. All the tables had to be moved out. Any work which was not being hung or included in assessment had to be taken home.
The room had be swept clean so that the cleaners could come in over half term and give the studio floor a proper clean.
Large white boards were put up all around the room so that work could be hung up.
All of these boards needed sanding down and painting.

Some of us also had to make a journey to the church in the center of town to bring back work  which had recently been displayed for an exhibit by tutors and other students.

I managed to help with some of the painting and covering some of the center of the boards where they join to make them look tidier and more professional.


Jo and Jamie had to have a lot of discussions with students where their work would look best when it was displayed.
You realise how much work goes in to setting up and preparing an end of year show.


It was nice to be able to do this as it gave everyone a break from all the practical work which had taken place over the last few weeks in time for the end of term. It was great to see the room making a transition from a busy work place full of students doing all their work to a clean and professional looking exhibit space.
It takes a lot of hard work and preparation to achieve what the tutors imagine in their minds as to how the exhibit should look.

It shows you also how important it is to be patient and also understanding of certain decisions what need to be made with regards to work being hung and how we all need to co-operate and work together.

Preparing Work For Assessment and The Exhibit

Three Paintings of Rhea on Canvas

When I started Unit 7, I had in mind ideas I wanted to develop to achieve the work for the end of year show. What I have ended up in doing is not actually what I had originally planned. This just shows you can’t plan everything and it is best to just develop ideas as you go along.
My Fine Art tutor Richard along with my other tutors were always very impressed with my paintings of Rhea.


I think the composition of Rhea in the paintings is what is most appealing about them. They are unconventional this is what I wanted to achieve when I did them. It is all about the body and the positioning. So it was not important to see Rhea’s face and I think it makes them more interesting that you actually can’t see her face.

I did have to tidy up the paintings slightly before they were ready for hanging in the studio. Small areas of the background just needed editing as it looked a little bit untidy. The outsides of the canvas which would be seen when hung needed covering too. Initially I wanted to paint them black. I thought this would make the stand out more as the colours on the canvas’ are very light. Both Sally and Richard advised me to paint them white as it is a cleaner more professional finish. Also, because everything is hung on white walls it would also compliment the canvas’ to have a white edge. This made a lot of sense and the white did look more effective.

When I started the paintings of Rhea I had never planned for them to be displayed as part of the end of year show. So when it was decided that they would go in the exhibit I was really pleased.

Three Linear Drawings

When I had completed my paintings of Rhea I started to imagine what I could do to compliment them more.
I had done a lot of painting and was keen to do some sketches and drawing. One of my tutors Steve was able to get me some really good quality paper called ‘Fabriano’
It is really think paper and ideal for what I wanted to achieve.
I had decided to do some linear drawings of Rhea as a contrast to the paintings I had done. I also really wanted to do one of Yvette too as I was disappointed with the sketch of her I had done so wanted to try a different approach.

I was so happy with the work when I had completed the drawings.
I got great, positive feedback from my tutors about them and was so pleased when I was able to include them in my collection of work in the exhibit.


Large Oil Painting of Yvette

When I started my oil painting of Yvette I had planned to do three of her all together. I had pictured it in my head of how I wanted them to look and I was fully prepared to have three large oil paintings complete in time for the end of term. I anticipated each one would take about a week each which would take me up to half term.
I was really disappointed at first when I realised that it just wasn’t going to happen. I think because I was not familiar with oil paint the painting took so much longer. I was quite frustrated at one point because in my mind I had planned to produce more work. So in a way I felt like I wasn’t achieving what I originally thought I could. So to me this was a big disappointment.
When I was in to the second week and still doing my first canvas of Yvette I knew there was not enough time to complete three. This was down to my job outside of college which only allowed me to come in to college three days instead of five and also because of the oil paints which were more challenging than I had thought they would be.
I spoke to Richard about my concerns and he assured me that doing one quality painting is so much better than rushing trying to get more done.
I did feel better after speaking to Richard and accepted that realistically I would only be doing one large oil painting for my FMP work.
In all it took me 9 colleges days to complete the painting.

IMG_1759 I am really pleased with how it looks and feel like I really did put a lot of effort in to it.
My tutors advised me, even though this was a good piece of work, it didn’t quite fit with my three paintings of Rhea and the linear drawings.
I completely agreed and knew exactly where my tutors were coming from. I understood that the exhibit had to look as impactful and impressive as possible.
I was really keen to keep my painting of Yvette in the exhibit because I felt that the work and time which I put in was important and this would show this by it being displayed. I was more than happy for it to be hung away from the other  pieces of my work which was being displayed elsewhere. And I was really relieved and grateful that I was able to keep it in the end of year show.

Photographing Yvette

My tutor Sally put me in touch with a lovely lady called Yvette. Yvette is very much into the fitness lifestyle and has been since she was young. She has a fantastic muscular physique which was perfect for my research. She was very kind as to let me take photos of her. We did plan to go out somewhere and get some good shots outdoors, but because of both our busy schedules this was unable to happen. So we found the best option was to in fact go to where Yvette worked and take the images there.
This worked out fine and I was able to get the shots I wanted.
Yvette has had quite a lot of photographs taken of her in the past and felt more than comfortable letting me photograph her. She, like Rhea, was very happy to pose in certain positions that accompanied my ideas and previous sketchbook ideas.
The following images are all form the one session I had with Yvette.
We had planned to meet up again to get even more shots but again, because of both of our schedules this unfortunately didn’t happen again. However, from the images I got of Yvette I was able to create some strong  practical work and develop my sketchbook work and ideas.6 1 2 3 4 5 IMG_8845 IMG_8846 IMG_8847 IMG_8848 IMG_8849 IMG_8850 IMG_8851 IMG_8855 IMG_8856 IMG_8857 IMG_8858 IMG_8859 IMG_8860 IMG_8861 IMG_8844 IMG_8841 IMG_8842 IMG_8843 IMG_8852 IMG_8853 IMG_8854  IMG_8835 IMG_8836 IMG_8837 IMG_8838 IMG_8839 IMG_8840

Yvette has an amazing physique as I am really happy with the images I was able to get of her. I was so grateful to her because I was able to get some really good ideas for my sketchbook and develop these ideas into work for my FMP.

Photographing Rhea

I was able to take photographs of a fellow foundation student to help me with my FMP work. Rhea very kindly posed for me using a special photography suit and also using college camera equipment.
My tutor Jo helped me set up the equipment and get the lighting correct. I wanted enough light on Rhea but also I wanted to be able to see shadow too. Shadow is very important when painting especially as it helps you create the image more accurately.

The following the photos are all from the one shoot which I did with Rhea.

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I was able to put Rhea into specific poses which I felt were more interesting than your classic poses. I want to show more motion in the images I would be creating fro the photos I took. Rhea was a very co-operative model and she was really patient and also had some good idea which helped me when I was taking the photos.
I was really grateful Rhea let me take these pictures because I thought that it was really important that I use my own photographs for my FMP work. I got a great range of photos from Rhea and from these was able to create some great ideas in my sketchbook and eventually take those ideas and transfer them into canvas’ using acrylic and also into some linear drawings.

Line Drawings

Out of everything I have done artistically, drawing is the medium I feel is my strongest and that I am most comfortable and confident in doing.
I though that doing some linear drawings would compliment my other work.
I hadn’t planned for my paintings of Rhea to be included in the end of year exhibit but they are being displayed which I am really pleased about and I produced some good quality line drawings to be displayed with them.

I decided to keep them as simple line drawings with added pressure at certain points where there may be more shadow. I decided not to use any shading but I kept in the construction lines that helped me get the correct proportions. I thought that this gave the drawings a more contemporary feel. The final drawings look very clean and I think this is because of the simplicity of the images.
I decided to draw several imaged of Rhea on one piece. It shows her in similar positions but from different angles.






I did a large scale drawing of Yvette which did not go as I had hoped and planned. I used this same image to create a linear drawing.
I am so happy with this outcome and prefer it so much more to my more detailed drawing which I did.
Again, I left in the construction lines and added pressure to my pencil where there would be more shadow.


Marvel, comics and fantasy art is what I have always been attracted to and I had a real urge to do some comic sketches but knew I couldn’t include this in my FMP exhibit work. I knew that I would not be able to include this drawing in my FMP work or for the exhibit but I absolutely loved drawing it and it was good experimentation as I did this one first. It looks so clean and it reminds of me of a tattoo stencil.


My dad Michael, has always been a fitness fanatic. When he was younger he competed in a bodybuilding competition. He had a professional picture taken for the event and I thought I would use it as part of my research.
Again, I knew I would not be able to include this as part of my FMP exhibit work, but it was good practice and I can use both this and wonder woman as reflection and research pieces for my sketchbook.

For all of these drawings I used a HB pencil. This is because the lead is not too soft and not too hard. It gives a nice clean finish and when used gently is easy to erase if need be. I used a ruler for the construction lines. The paper I used was really good, thick quality paper called……