Whitney Jones talks about the temporary disappearance of Women’s Bodybuilding from the Olympia… and how femininity should not matter for the division.
Ever since the early days of Bev Francis in the Women’s Open Bodybuilding division, the debate about femininity in the division has raged on. Francis famously battled back and forth each year attempting to attain what the judges wanted. Did she need to lean out or get bigger? The expectations seemed to constantly change. This issue continued ultimately until the Olympia weekend decided to stop holding the Ms. Olympia competition. It returned in 2020 after a six year hiatus. In our latest GI Exclusive interview, Fitness Olympia champion Whitney Jones explains how Women’s Bodybuilding should never be considered a beauty pageant.
Women’s Open Bodybuilding has a problem. Or at least, it had a problem for many decades. Perhaps even since its introduction into the sport. The problem seems two-fold, though both are related. The division can’t seem to get enough competitors (or audience) to engage. Secondly, there is a constant debate on the “femininity” of the physiques in the division.
During our conversation with Whitney Jones, we asked for her thoughts on female bodybuilding as a whole, and the six year forced hiatus that Women’s Open Bodybuilding took away from the Ms. Olympia. Whether it’s on or off the stage, it seems that physique expectations are different for women bodybuilders. There have been many pro bodybuilders who have outright stated that they are not interested in female bodybuilding at all. Why?
Whitney Jones isn’t surprised, but continues to believe that there is a bright future for the Women’s Open division and all female bodybuilding divisions. During our interview, she discusses how ever since she was young, she received comments for her muscular physique. Muscles are deemed “manly” and not something that women should push too far. While that mentality may be changing as culture becomes more “woke” – there are still many who believe that Women’s Open bodybuilding needs to maintain a femininity within the physiques presented on stage.
Whitney Jones doesn’t agree with this. In fact, she outright states that bodybuilding is not a beauty pageant – it’s a physique pageant. The female physiques on stage should be judged exactly even with the men physiques on stage. It’s not about how pretty a woman is. It’s about how perfectly sculpted a woman’s physique is.
Luckily, current Mr. Olympia owner Jake Wood seems to agree. Before owning the Mr. Olympia brand, he ensured that his Wings of Strength competitions always held Women’s Open bodybuilding – even during the six year hiatus away from Olympia weekend. Upon purchasing the Olympia brand, he immediately brought back Ms. Olympia.
Things are looking up for the division for the first time in nearly a decade. But the question remains, will the will of the people (particularly men) be more open minded about the division? Will they help bring a bigger audience and more support to a division that nearly died? That remains to be seen.
With more divisions than ever, women are able to choose which size they want. Much like Men’s Open – most people do not want to be a mass monster. So both Men’s Open and Women’s Open often contain the least number of active pro bodybuilders. For an already struggling division such as Women’s Open, this can create a harder uphill battle.
Whitney Jones isn’t worried – particularly because of the current (and two-time) Ms. Olympia champion Andrea Shaw. She is an excellent ambassador for the sport and truly showcases the excellence that can be achieved in the division. She also holds fantastic charisma. Perhaps this will inspire more to enter the division and excite audience members who have been sleeping on it the past decade.
You can watch Whitney Jones’ full comments on Women’s Open Bodybuilding and femininity in the sport in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above!