Female Body Builders – IFBB Competitors

*IFBB – International Federation of Body Builders and Fitness

Even though I have my own visual imagery that I was luckily able to obtain through people I know and friends, I still felt it was important to look into known athletes too. This way I could grasp an idea of how intense life is for these ladies competing in world wide championships!

Women competitors make very good careers just like the men do. They work seriously hard and push their bodies to the limits to achieve their muscular physiques.
I had a look at the top competing females in the world at the moment to get an idea of who they are and how they look.
You can tell almost straight away that these ladies are natural competitors because even though they have 0 body fat and are all muscle, they still have very feminine faces and sleek, svelte bodies. There is no masculinity about them like there would be if they were using muscle enhancers. When women use steroids and continue to use them, because of the male testosterone, their femininity begins to fade.
Their faces become more square and masculine. The muscles look bulkier and square. Excessive body hair grows in places a women would not always have a lot of hair. All these things would be app arrant with the use of steroids.


Nicole is a keen gymnast, athlete and champion in the body building world. She has won numerous awards including awards for world renowned IFBB

Her most prestigious awards are from competing in the IFBB competitions, including the highly respected Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic.

She is a four-time IFBB Figure Olympia champion! She holds the most titles in history for this award for the following years 2009/ 2011/ 2013/ 2014

I had a look at Nicole’s own website and she is very prolific athlete indeed;


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All competitors make sure that their skin has been tanned as this shows off their muscle tone and definition. The judges can see their muscular physiques much better.


Gina is also renowned in the body building world and holds an array of awards including the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic.

He has always lead a life of fitness like most competitors. She is a fitness expert, personal trainer and nutrition expert.


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At only 5ft, French is a power house of muscle! She has won many awards for body building, including the Arnold Classic, only coming 3rd place. However, she has taken 1st place for numerous other awards including IFBB Pittsburg/ New Zealand Pro Figure and Bikini competitions.



All three women have won different awards and the same awards. They all have had to work just as hard as each other despite how well they did when they did compete.

When reading about these women and looking at their own experiences, even though it is a somewhat misunderstood lifestyle, it seems it is a very positive one.

It seems the women who do compete help each other and want one another to do well.
A healthy lifestyle is obviously vital. The desire to look this way makes you push yourself in ways you wouldn’t normally. You have to really want to do it and really want to achieve it. SO i think that it is such a positive thing because all these people absolutely love what they are doing! Why wouldn’t you be positive? And why wouldn’t you want others to do well, when it all comes down to the fact that they are competing and heading towards the same goals.

Speaking to people personally it seems that they always inspire others. It isn’t just about looking a certain way. It is about feeling good, being healthy and being positive. Some people will obviously be very pretentious and cocky, especially when it comes to the way they look. But overall I think that most are rather modest and what to use their experiences to help others.


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.

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.

Female Bodybuilding – Yvette

Yvette was very kind to let me photograph her in her free time. We had planned to meet again for a further photo shoot in another area to try and get some better shots, but unfortunately because of her work schedule and also my work and college schedule, this didn’t happen again.

But from the photos I took myself I was able to create a large oil panting which will be hung in the exhibition and go towards my FMP work. I also created a linear drawing of Yvette which will also be hung in the end of year show.

After I had taken my photos, Yvette went on a photo shoot with a friend and again very kindly sent me the photos to help with my work. I had already completed my practical work for my FMP but I was able to use them to help me build up more work in my sketch book. Even though I was not able to use them for my FMP, I could still display my ideas and development in my sketchbook and continue my work right up until the deadline which I thought was really important and this also gave me the chance to carry on drawing which I love to do.

The above few photos are fantastic and really colourful! This was what we both would have liked to have done if we had got the chance to take more pictures.

The following four images are from Yvette working out in the gym. Again she sent them to me so that if I did need more materiel I could use them. She was really helpful and this helped me greatly developing my ideas!

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Frank Frazetta

Frank Frazetta - Self Portrait

Frank Frazetta is my all time favourite artist. His work is what first inspired me to want to draw. I was familiar with his work fro a young age as my dad was always into Fantastic Art.
I love the way he created awesome and muscular characters in his work. He created really impactful works of art. They ranged from drawings to paintings and to work for the media.
What struck my attention initially was the figures he had in his work. Idealised figures of the male and female form.
Frazetta created very iconic imagery for the character of Conan, created by Robert E,Howard back in the 1930’s. His images were used for book covers and promotional work for the media and his own personal work too. The males in his artwork were more often than not very sullen and hard looking with extremely muscular and idealised physiques. They were portrayed as being rather mean with a frightening demeanour.

The women were very curvaceous, with large breasts and very round bottoms, but they always also had quite a muscular form too.
Frazetta’s art also had a running theme of sexuality which often oozed through his work.
Luckily we have lots of Frazetta books at home which I have admired for a long time and that have been very helpful in my research, personally and for the Foundation course.


The amount of work which Frazetta produced is phenomenal. These are just a very small collection of his works, there are many more books than this. Here are some of my personal favourite works of Frazetta’s from these books;

Reassembled Man, Book Four

Untitled, Book Five

Nude, Book Five    

Tarzan and the Ant Men, Book Three  

Dark Kingdom, Book Two

Untitled Sketches From Book Four

Untitled Sketches from Book Three

I remember Frank Frazetta from when I was younger and I think he really did inspire me artistically. Fantastic Art has so much appeal to me and think that is because you can explore ideas more prolifically because it is a made up world that has come from the imagination and that is what I love about it!

Jenny Saville

Whilst searching on YouTube for techniques to help me with my drawing, I remembered Richard talking about a Jenny Saville video which demonstrated her painting skills and he had struggled to find it again. I also tried to find it but was unsuccessful,
One of the reason I have used Saville as part of my research is because I find it fascinating why she would want to paint such shocking images which are very fleshy, uneasy and quite grotesque most of the time.

I found the following interview with Saville very interesting and he views on feminism and how art seems to be more male dominated and this in fact stopped her from painting for a while.