AMERICAN GLADIATORS AND FEMALE BODYBUILDING
When modern bodybuilding competition for women began in the late 1970s our culture was introduced to a very new kind of body – “something new under the sun.” It has taken quite a while for people to accept the aesthetically muscular female physique. There has been a lot of push back. But one example of how this acceptance has progressed over the years is the television program American Gladiators, which featured female bodybuilders, fitness competitors and women who trained like bodybuilders.
Acceptance of female muscle depends a lot on context. Comic books have always featured by athletic women super heroes and nobody objected. A female bodybuilder was featured on the cover of Playboy because she was also a famous wrestler. A very muscular woman in an illustration for fantasy/adventure stories is considered totally appropriate.
I was contacted when American Gladiators was very beginning production and asked to suggest possible cast members. In fact, quite a number of the women I recommnded were hired and many others susequently accepted as s Gladiators were women I photographed.
Here are a few of the American Gladiator women I had the good fortune to capture in photos.
SHA-RI PENDELTON – “BLAZE”
RAYE HOLLITT – “ZAP”
ERIKA ANDERSCH – “DIAMOND”
SHELLY BEATIE – “SIREN”
VICTORIA GAY – “JAZZ”
TANJI JOHNSON – “STEALTH
TONYA KNIGHT – “GOLD”
SHERYLN GODREAU – “RAVEN”
ROBIN COLEMAN – “HELGA”