Feminine bodybuilding is the female version of bodybuilding competitions. It all started when women started competing in bodybuilding competitions in the late 1970s. Female bodybuilding arose not just as a result of late-nineteenth-century European vaudeville and circus strongwomen acts, Bernarr Macfadden’s turn-of-the-century women’s physique competitions, and Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton’s weightlifting, but also as a result of men’s bodybuilding. From the 1950s through the mid-1970s, men’s events were sometimes augmented with either a women’s beauty contest or a bikini exhibition. These shows “had little to do with women’s bodybuilding as we know it today,” but they “served as a springboard for the creation of future bodybuilding shows.” Miss Physique, Miss Body Beautiful U.S.A., W.B.B.G., and Miss Americana, I.F.B.B., are examples of women’s physique competitions dating back to the 1960s. According to the Almanac of Women’s Bodybuilding, Maria Elena Alberici won two national titles in one year: Miss Body Beautiful United States of America in 1972, promoted by Dan Lourie, and Miss Americana in 1972, promoted by Joe Weider. When Maria Elena Alberici (aka) Maria Lauren won Miss Americana, Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger was a judge at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. Women were not viewed as capable of competing in their own bodybuilding competitions until the late 1970s, after the feminist movement and female powerlifting events. Prior to 1977, bodybuilding was thought to be solely a male-dominated activity. Henry McGhee, dubbed the “principal architect of competitive female bodybuilding,” worked at the Downtown Canton YMCA and believed strongly that women should have the same opportunity as men to show off their bodies and the results of their weight training. The Ohio Regional Women’s Physique Championship, the first recognized female bodybuilding competition, was held in Canton, Ohio, in November 1977. It was the first event of its sort for women, and it was evaluated exclusively as a bodybuilding competition. Gina LaSpina, the champion, is credited with being the first woman to win a bodybuilding competition. McGhee, the event’s organizer, warned the contestants that they will be judged “like the males,” with a focus on muscular development, symmetry, and physical presentation.
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