Rachel McLish and the “Evolution” of Female Bodybuilding

Built Report Rachel McLish

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Rachel McLish

It Didn’t Stay Rachel For Long

In 1980, the first Miss Olympia contest was held in Philadelphia, and won by Rachel McLish. McLish was like the Arnold Schwarzenegger of female bodybuilding at at the time. She was the perfect spokeswoman for female bodybuilding. Rachel made the television talk show rounds, starred in movies, and wrote fitness books. She also looked female. Rachel was not trying to recreate the male physique by developing capped deltoids, broad lats, road map veins, and losing enough body fat to narrow her hips to male proportions. She was not trying to be a mini man.

The Miss Olympia, later called the Ms Olympia, started to change shortly following it’s debut. It was a competition, after all, and the stakes kept having to get higher. Quality is something that can be subjective and its too complicated to discern if you don’t understand aesthetic nuances. Quantity, on the other hand, isn’t complicated at all. Everyone understands quantity at a very young age. This rock is bigger than that rock. That garbage can holds more trash than the other one, etc… The same thing applied to female bodybuilding contests. Every year Ms Olympia contests kept having to get “better”. Let’s not judge the contests on women’s biology and femininity. That’s way too hard to qualify. Quantification is so much easier and we’ve been doing it since our earliest memories and…..this woman has wider shoulders than that one and also has veins in her back…that’s more and more is better. She wins, the woman with the vascular lats and broad shoulders. This is progress! Wait until next year.

The competitors were no longer trying to have the best bodies. They were trying to have bodies that would win bodybuilding contests. Winning a bodybuilding contest meant that the women would start having to take male hormones and add higher and higher dosages. It was no longer about being better but fitting an odd unnatural mold in order to win a contest.

Iris Kyle

Women’s bodybuilding went on the decline and filling the void were more feminine fitness competitions. Fitness competitors became the face of the female side of the bodybuilding industry. The Fitness Olympia, The Figure Olympia, and The Bikini Olympia eventually came into being as the Ms Olympia’s appeal plummeted. A 1980 Rachel McLish is along the lines of a modern day Figure Olympia. If a 1980 Rachel McLish were to enter a current Ms Olympia contest it would be like a woman entering a men’s bathroom, she’d be totally out of place. The current state of the Ms Olympia contest appears non existent. Wikipedia suggests that it wasn’t held in 2015 but was replaced by the 2015 Wings of Strength Rising Phoenix World Championships. Apparently, 2015 marks the year that the Ms Olympia was dropped. It’s gone. The last Ms. Olympia was 2014 winner Iris Kyle. Ms. Olympia 1980-2014. From Rachel to Kyle.

Galleries of Rachel McLish: https://www.builtreport.com/category/rachel-mclish/

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About Yegor Khzokhlachev 820 Articles
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