Lenda Murray Talks About The Myths About Female Bodybuilding In Jet Magazine (1992)


Jet Magazine

Jet is a magazine founded in 1951 by John h. Johnson. The magazine puts focus on African American culture, news, politics, and entertainment. The Johnson Publishing Company was established in 1942. The company’s founder wanted to have a positive media representation of African Americans in a time when racism and discrimination were rampant in America. Racist stereotypes and prejudiced depictions were common in film, tv, and animation. John H. Johnson wanted to counter these negative images. Besides Jet, Johnson launched other magazines which included Ebony and Negro Digest. Jet challenged anti-black racism by reporting on the violence in the south, discrimination in employment, and advocating for integration. Jet continues as a digital publication. This happened in 2014. The Johnson publishing empire came to an end in 2019. Jet was sold to Clear View Group a private equity firm. Jet celebrates African American achievement in various fields. Women were also given credit. Lenda Murray appeared in an article in 1992 by Lou Ransom. It was called “Black Champion Female Bodybuilder Dispels Four Myths About Her Sport.” Lenda discussed the myths and misconceptions about female bodybuilding. The text explores some issues related to race and sex in sports and media. Lenda Murray at the time won two Ms. Olympia titles and would go on to dominate though the 1990s. Then Lenda returned to win two more in 2002 and 2003. The myths that are mentioned still continue to be expressed in fitness circles today. Lenda did a good job of explaining to a mass media publication about what female bodybuilding is about.

Lenda Murray gave Jet a basic introduction to exercise science. Being knowledgeable about training and the body Lenda provides lucid answers. The first myth is that if a person stops lifting weights muscle will turn into fat. This is not physically possible. Muscle and fat cells consist of different tissues. The muscles atrophy from lack of use. Weight gain can only happen with higher caloric intake and limited physical activity. This is also dependent on a person’s metabolism. When muscles are exercised as Lenda explains, they grow. Myocytes and adipocytes are two different types of cells.

Lenda Murray held The Ms. Olympia from 1990 to 1996 and 2002 to 2003. Her physique is the standard for the current Ms. Olympia champions.

Lifting weights and building muscle can be a method of weight loss. Another strange myth is that building muscle makes you more vulnerable to heart attacks. Muscle does not clog arteries of the human body. The only way building muscle could do that is by the use of anabolic androgenic steroids. Cycling large doses can be detrimental to health. A few bodybuilders have died from using an assortment of performance enhancing drugs. That number is still low compared to the total number of people who die from heart disease. Currently, an estimated 659,000 people die from heart disease each year. It was most likely lower at the time of this 1992 interview. Physical activity is not the only factor. Diet is essential to circulatory system health. Eating too much high fat or fried food can overtime block arties. Gaining large amounts of weight also puts a person at risk. High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking increase chances of myocardial infraction.

Disinformation around female athletes and fertility remain persistent. The myth that female athletes cannot get pregnant is left over from Victorian Age medicine. Doctors thought women riding bicycles would reduce fertility. Elements of the frailty myth still influence sports and fitness . A female bodybuilder can still get pregnant. The factors affect fertility include age, duration of subfertility, previous pregnancy, the timing and frequency of sexual intercourse. Being overweight or medical conditions can reduce fertility. A muscular woman still maintains the ability to get pregnant. Too much smoking or alcohol consumption could have a negative impact on fertility.

Lenda Murray’s 2002, 2003, and 1995 Ms. Olympia appearances show why she won. She had a good balance of size, shape, and symmetry.

Women being in shape is not going to harm fertility. Now it is recommended that pregnant women get some exercise. Intensity was have to be reduced to ensure health of the mother and child. Lenda also emphasized in the interview that she is conscious of what she puts in her body. A female athlete can get pregnant. The problem also seems to come from the fact the American public has a lack of understanding about anatomy and copulation. When it comes to health and exercise more falsehoods are propagated than fact.

Another myth is that female bodybuilders lose flexibility. Building muscle does not reduce flexibility. Lenda explains to maintain flexibility you must train for it. Factors that determine flexibility are age, joint structure, connective tissues ( tendons and ligaments ) , and sex. Provided that a person does exercises with a full range of motion, then flexibility would not be lost. A thin person could be less flexible than a muscular person if they did not do exercises for it. Women tend to be more flexible compared to men. This relates to joints structure and ligaments of women. Thus adding muscle will not decrease flexibility. Not training for it will. Yoga can be incorporated with weight training for both flexibility and strength. This myth is repeated constantly, but has no basis in exercise science.

Lenda Murray in the interview also tackled the contentious matter of body image. When it comes to body criticism female bodybuilders are ostracized for their lack of breasts. What this was now has a term, which is body shaming. Murray explains that female athletes do not have enormous breasts. When building muscle, fat is burned. Breasts are mostly fat. The compliant is a ludicrous one. Women do not require big breasts to have a nice body. The irony is during the off season fat level rise and a woman’s chest could go back to a rounder shape.

The thinner hour glass figure was promoted in magazines . The female bodybuilder created a new aesthetic which either generated support or criticism. Lena Horne’s figure matches the Jet magazine issue. The Women’s Physique World is celebrating Lenda’s athleticism, rather than just her looks.

There was a period in which female athletes got breast implants. That still happens, but some athletes did it thinking it was the only way to score higher points in contests. The only part of the chest that should be judged is the pecs, not breasts.

Lenda Murray Competing in the 1992 Ms. Olympia

The bodybuilding physique is its own aesthetic. The argument for all women having to conform to a model of beauty has sexist overtones. The female bodybuilder created a new body image, which a public had difficulty understanding and not ready for . The fact is attitudes and standards will change, whether the public is ready or not. Lenda was born in 1962 during the civil rights movement. American society was not willing to accept racial integration. The change had to come through civil disobedience , legal action in court, and enforcement from the federal government. Sex and race discrimination were no longer considered tolerable. Maybe at some point the muscular woman will find acceptance.

Media exposure and representation are concerns for women’s sport. Lenda Murray mentions that she wished she got more promotion from fitness publications. Black athletes historically did not get as much mainstream sports coverage. This did improve in the post-civil rights era as sports became integrated . African American women had to deal with the challenges of anti-black racism, prejudice, and sexism. While Jet did feature female athletes, earlier issues were more conservative in terms of gender roles.

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