A New Approach To Promotion and Public Relations
For The New Breed of Beautiful Muscle Women

By Bill Dobbins

The pro bodybuilding winners at the 2017 Lenda Murray Norfolk Pro/Am.

There has been a revolution in our culture in how we view the female physique. Nowadays more and more women – including models and actresses – work hard at making their bodies lean, fit and athletic. They join gyms and hire personal trainers. They lift weights and do other types of resistance training. They take pride in having flat abs and tight, high, round rear ends.

You even see changes in the physical development of serious female athletes. Look at women sprinters in the Olympics and you will see they have a degree of muscularity rarely seen before seen in the past. Track and fields records for women are being broken with increasing frequency in large part to their superior strength and muscular development.

But this new degree of development and attitude toward the female body did not evolve in a vacuum. It has been inspired by the example of a group of women pioneers who began competing in the sport of bodybuilding starting in the late 1970s. Over time bodybuilding women’s bodybuilding has lead to the emergence of other types of muscle contests such as female fitness, figure, physique and fit bikini – all examples of different approaches to creating fit and fabulous muscular physiques with some variation of basic bodybuilding technique.

Charles Gains, the author of Pumping Iron, has called women who develop their muscles for primarily aesthetic purposes a “new archetype” – never before seen in any place or time in history. This type of body has revolutionized our view of the female body and things like gender identity, sexuality as well as the limits of female physical performance. This is a tremendously new and exciting development in our culture – and yet very few in the “mainstream” have recognized this or paid any real attention.

The world has changed but the women who have made this happen get no credit for their achievements or contributions.

These amazing women deserve much more recognition for what they have accomplished, the example they have set for other women and the degree to which they have inspired other women to develop their muscles and physical abilities. But this is going to take a lot of effort when it comes to promotion and public relations – a type of effort that we have not seen in the past.

When women win muscle contests of various sorts they rarely end up on televisions shows – giving interviews, demonstrating exercises, sharing diet advice or explaining how they achieved their championship success. Given the state of publishing that is affecting bodybuilding and fitness magazines, these women no longer get the promotion in industry print magazines that once helped make them famous. The old question is whether a tree falling in the forest makes any noise if there is nobody around to hear it. Now we have to consider whether a competitor winning a contest gets any promotional benefit if nobody knows anything about it.

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In an age of poor lifestyle choices and obesity, each of these women represents a quality of aesthetic development that should inspire other women to take control of their own bodies and health.

It seems obvious that the way to change the mainstream perception of aesthetic female muscle and help to create a more positive view of these women is to engage in a more effective and energetic campaign of advertising, promotion and public relations. There need to be efforts made to change public opinion using both traditional means and more modern ones such as social media, websites, Instagram, Twitter and so forth. These efforts have to be extensive and professionally done by individuals who know something about the nature of these women and their achievements and are dedicated to developing and enhancing their brand. Regular public relations experts simply don’t know enough about the subject and are going to need informed guidance.

The term “branding” is often used nowadays to describe a coherent effort to focus and organize information regarding a product, service or individual to create a clear, specific and effective identity. All information about the brand should be clear, coordinated and consistent and the messages regarding this brand have to be repeated over and over – using whatever means or channels of communication available.

This requires the participation of people who are expert and knowledgeable regarding these women, their situation and history and who are able to communicate this message using all the different available means.

Iris Kyle and Lenda Murray – the two best female bodybuilders of all time.

The Internet has increased the ability of all of us to communicate messages to the widest range of people possible. Unfortunately, the “noise” generated by so many millions of messages all being sent out at the same time has made it difficult to get anybody to notice any specific promotion. This is all the more reason that messages being shared with websites and social media be well designed, effective, consistent and frequent. People need to hear your message over and over from a variety of different sources in order to have them pay attention and remember.

But there is still a role for conventional professional public relations. Public relations reps have access to the decision-makers in television and print publications and know how to disseminate information using traditional advertising means. These are the reps who can get fit and fabulous females booked on all sorts of TV shows from Good Morning America to Ellen to The Tonight Show. But as I wrote above, they need guidance in crafting the branding message.

Years ago, Ronnie Coleman appeared on The Tonight Show after one of his Mr. Olympia victories. This was made possible by the efforts of a professional public relations rep. This is not the kind of thing that can be achieved without professional help.

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Jake Wood, the creator of the Wings of Strength organization, is working with champions like Alina Popa and Lenda Murray to promote the sport of pro bodybuilding for women.

We live in an age of celebrity. Vogue Magazine features more movie stars than supermodels because they bring with them already established fan bases. While many magazines are struggling People is not one of them. TMZ, dealing to such a degree with celebrity gossip, is highly successful.

Joe Weider used his magazines to help make Arnold Schwarzenegger more famous and Arnold, in turn, was instrumental in making bodybuilding more acceptable in the 1980s. By giving a lot of publicity to women like Rachel McLish and Cory Everson he helped them to sell books and appear in television shows and feature movies.

Using whatever means possible, women with aesthetic muscle should be promoted as much as possible as champions, role models and feminist heroes. They need to be made into celebrities – as Rachel McLish and Cory Everson were in the past. As happened with bodybuilders like Arnold, Lou Ferrigno, and others.

It is only by being promoted as celebrities in a way that makes them visible outside the “bubble” of the fitness world can these women get the attention they deserve from the culture as a whole and achieve greater and more significant brand recognition.

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Pro figure winners at the 2017 Lenda Murray Norfolk Pro/Am.

Really major brands need highly effective websites to serve as an anchor for their promotional efforts. The purpose of these sites should be (1) to generate traffic, (2) accumulate email addresses, (3) provide brand information and promotion and (4) serve as hubs to provide links to all other brand activities.

These websites have to be graphically effective and professional and highly accessible. The website should direct traffic to other promotional efforts, activities and social networking activities. Again, given that viewers have constant exposure to very professionally done sites from CNN to Time Magazine, it is important the website look as professional and graphically well designed as possible.

The website is the public face of the brand and has to be treated as such. Every supporter of female muscle, as well as the women themselves, need to link to and coordinate with the primary website.

The women need photos that focus on beauty, art and physical development – like this image of Dayana Cadeau, Lightweight Ms. Olympia. Photo credit: Bill Dobbins

In this digital age, with so many types of cameras available including smartphones, there are literally trillions of photos and a huge number of videos being uploaded to the Internet. In this environment, sometimes the best way to publicize something is sheer volume. You can flood the web with uploads to services like Instagram and Twitter and get a lot accomplished.

But it takes a higher quality of photo and video to grab attention and stick in the mind. There is a reason why a major fashion brand will spend $150,000 or more on a photo shoot. They may have an 8 million dollar ad buy coming up in magazines like Vogue or Vanity Fair and a lot of money is at stake. They can’t take the risk of using anything but the best and highest quality of photographs they can obtain.

Again, with the aim of creating iconic images and promoting celebrities, aesthetic muscle women need to be presented as heroic athletes, with artistic sculptural physiques as well as showing them as attractive and interesting in a variety of lifestyle images.

Joe Weider was quick to promote female bodybuilding from the beginning. Nowadays the magazines are no longer the best way to publicize individuals or the brand.

Promoting and publicizing aesthetically muscular women has to become more aggressive, proactive, effective and professional. This isn’t just about creating public acceptance of a few fit and fabulous females. It is an effort to radically change and inform the entire culture. A major problem is that there is not enough support for this within the fitness and bodybuilder industry itself. The IFBB has dropped the Ms. Olympia and the Ms. International. At the 2017 NPC USA there were only five total competitors. The only organization fully behind female bodybuilding is Wings of Strength under the direction of founder Jake Wood.

To help make this successful, the women themselves have to become major promoters of themselves. They need to network among themselves and with the Wings of Strength website and social networking pages. They need to remember that they are all part of a Sisterhood of Muscle and that the general public often sees little difference between women bodybuilding and fitness, figure and physique competitors. They are all in the same boat – and a rising tide lifts ALL boats.

Norfollk Figure Winners More-309
Pro figure winners from the Lenda Murray Norfolk Pro/Am. The public can’t tell these women from bodybuilders, so they have to accept they are a part of the Sisterhood of Muscle.

Bill Dobbins Photography and Motion
cel: (310) 721 8666





  1. greetings from Mexico.
    a very good article. Like, I’m putting my grain of sand. convincing work and school campaigns that female bodybuilding is more than what they see in the photos of contests. In this year 2019 I am trying to make a blog in Spanish of female bodybuilding with valuable information for the Spanish public.

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