Black Female Bodybuilders

"Yo, Yo, Yo -- go girl!" "Hey, over here -- We here for you, girl!" "You look good! REAL GOOD!" This is family and neighborhood pride at stake on the stage tonight. Sisters, mothers, boyfriends, husbands, cousins, and friends from the outer boroughs, Jersey, Philly, the deep South, and everywhere else have assembled in Manhattan on a cool, late November day to watch loved ones walk barefoot and nearly naked onto a wooden stage where they will display their physically perfected bodies to be judged by a panel of mostly white men. They will flex, pose, and strut back and forth as the crowd cheers them on. Throughout the evening each will perform a personal choreographed routine designed to ...

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burst through, no millisecond record to shatter. Even though this display is both celebratory and voluntary, for the black women on some level the stakes are the same as those placed on the bodies of the African women, our ancestors, who survived the Middle Passage3 only to be corralled and sold to the highest bidder upon their arrival. We have all been taught: Whenever you so much as step outside your house, you are representing the race.
Black females have historically not been in the position to determine either their individual or collective images in the popular consciousness. The black female image has generally been polarized into stereotypes of the oversexed Jezebel and the asexual, castrating mammy,4 with only biology, not self-determination as a contributing factor. In certain arenas, however, black females have established a strong voice with regard to bodily matters: for example, from the early blues music of Gertrude "Ma" Rainey and Bessie Smith in the 1920s to the ...

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act of self-presentation black women have begun to challenge and reinvent what it means to be black and female within a culture that values neither. Through their extreme manifestation of control over their own bodies, black female bodybuilders represent in physical strength the power that eludes black women in general in society.


The Beacon Theatre is a garishly decorated landmark on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. A largely working-class crowd has paid nearly two hundred dollars for both the afternoon pre-judging contest and the evening finals of the "Wimbledon" of women's bodybuilding,6 the Ms. Olympia competition, which is to take place in the Beacon.7

It ...

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Black Female Bodybuilders. (2005, August 9). Retrieved August 13, 2020, from
"Black Female Bodybuilders.", 9 Aug. 2005. Web. 13 Aug. 2020. <>
"Black Female Bodybuilders." August 9, 2005. Accessed August 13, 2020.
"Black Female Bodybuilders." August 9, 2005. Accessed August 13, 2020.
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Added: 8/9/2005 08:58:54 PM
Category: Miscellaneous
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 6713
Pages: 25

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