Honors Theses


Rebecca Whisnant


Women's and Gender Studies

Publication Date

Spring 4-2015

Document Type

Honors Thesis


This project examines the evolution of women's presence in the bodybuilding industry in relation to the newest and increasingly popular category, women’s bikini. As I will show, the category of bikini was created to increase the revenues of the major bodybuilding companies by attracting more competitors and spectators to the sport. While on the surface a profit driven motive does not seem immoral, when one examines the emotional and physical damage the prepping and postcompetition process does to bikini competitors (more so than any other bodybuilding category) it can be seen that women’s bodies are particularly expendable when profit is at stake. The experiences unique to women competitors within the bodybuilding industry, and particularly within bikini, demonstrate the degrading, immobilizing, and sexist reality for women when caught in the intersection of patriarchy, capitalism, and an industry that thrives off the exploitation of women’s bodies.

Permission Statement

This item is protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code) and may only be used for noncommercial, educational, and scholarly purposes.


Undergraduate research


Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Women's Studies