A THREE-TIME Ms. Olympia champion has called out the bodybuilding world, claiming that women in the space have often been criticized for their muscularity.
Andrea Shaw, 39, is a professional bodybuilder who began making waves in the industry in 2018, earning her pro card after an eight-year sabbatical, per Fitness Volt.
Since then, Shaw went on to win three Ms. Olympia titles in a row in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
For Shaw and other female competitors, the women’s bodybuilding industry has had a complicated past.
According to Essentially Sports, the women’s division was reportedly taken out of some of bodybuilding’s most popular competitions for about five years.
Specifically, the women’s division was removed from Olympia Weekend and the Arnold Classic after 2014.
During that time, there was only one event female bodybuilders could compete in — the Wings of Strength Rising Phoenix World Championship.
However, in 2020 the Olympia brand was sold to Jake Wood, who owns the Wings of Strength organization that emphasizes female competitors in the world of bodybuilding.
The International Fitness and Bodybuilding Federation Ms. Olympia was then reintroduced, with Shaw winning the first title after its return.
Many have questioned the reasoning behind the event’s initial removal, and Shaw has shared her thoughts as to what happened.
She told Generation Iron in a 2022 interview that the removal allegedly came from men, specifically, those who she claimed were insecure about their muscles.
“A lot of it [is] usually men. They are usually men. When you break most of it down, some of these men are insecure because they don’t have muscle and they wish they could,” Shaw explained.
She continued to claim that after these men don’t get what they want, women become the target.
“So then the target becomes the woman … but it’s bodybuilding,” she said.
Shaw would take the conversation further, questioning why the competition is separated by gender in the first place for Mr. Olympia and Ms. Olympia.
“What difference does it make if it’s a man or a woman?” she asked.
Ultimately, Shaw told Generation Iron that she blamed the former owners and staff of Olympia Weekend and the Arnold Classic for the removal of the women’s division.
She claimed that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s staff were the first to back out of the women’s division, and the IFBB allegedly followed.
Then other smaller competitions reportedly did the same because of their decisions.
Nevertheless, the question remains as to why the IFBB, the Arnold Classic and other competitions removed the women’s division in the first place after having it for years.
The alleged reasoning behind the removal of the women’s division for bodybuilding’s most known events was simple — unpopularity.
However, Shaw has rebutted the response, noting to Generation Iron that women’s bodybuilding has been consistently popular.
She argued that if it were unpopular, there wouldn’t have been a female representation in the sport in the first place.
Wood also told Muscle & Fitness that he created the Wings of Strength organization because of the need for a women’s bodybuilding world championship.
“At that point, we saw the need for a women’s world championship and our opportunity to provide one,” he said about Wings of Strength’s inaugural championship in 2015.
The U.S. Sun has reached out to Olympia Weekend and Shaw for official comment on the return of the women’s division in major bodybuilding competitions.
Either way, the world of women’s bodybuilding can seemingly be a rewarding and dangerous space.
The U.S. Sun has the story of a female bodybuilder who is currently on life support after she collapsed days before a competition.
For related content, The U.S. Sun also has coverage of the truth behind one female bodybuilder’s stage physique.