Bryant Gumbel introduces his HBO Real Sports feature on women’s bodybuilding with, “we move onto the wild, weird and relatively unknown world of women’s bodybuilding. If you’re like most Americans what little exposure to bodybuilding you’ve had, has probably been limited to to brief glimpses of scantily clad competitors posing in a magazine.” You can already assume which direction the feature will go.
Gumbel draws attention to nothing but the negative things associated with women’s bodybuilding. If there was anything positive in the piece, I missed it. Focusing on the negative aspects is the easy route and been done a number of times.
Gumbel dwells on things like “training for at least four hours a day, six days a week.” He chats with Brandi Mae Akers about her troubled childhood and quest to get bigger. Who knows how much video was shot but the way it was edited made Akers appear to be an obsessed women focused only on doing whatever it takes to get big and be in control.
No women’s bodybuilding segment would be complete without Lauren Powers. Lauren is exactly what mainstream media loves… a freak. She thrives off from the role and has made a career of playing the part. She isn’t an active competitive bodybuilder but continues to be one of the few women featured any time there is piece on women’s bodybuilding. I don’t think it helps the industry but it certainly helps her business.
An active female bodybuilder, Dena Westerfield is featured posing in her hotel room on a webcam. It’s an avenue where many women are making good money. There was no mention that Westerfield is a doctor. Gumbel shifts the focus to muscle worshipers calling them “schmoes”. He discusses the muscle worship sessions many women perform and can make a few hundred dollars at doing.
Photographer, Brian Moss offers up an interesting question back to Gumbel when asked if he might be exploiting women with his web site, shemuscle.com. He responds to Gumbel asking, “Who’s exploiting who?” Sharing his argument that the women aren’t paying the men. The men are paying $8 a minute for posing and flexing.
You can watch the entire feature here but don’t expect to see anything uplifting or positive about women’s bodybuilding.