What the first ladies-bodybuilders looked like: Photos of the wonder women of the last century
The beginning of the 20th century was marked by many significant events, and one of these was a departure from the stereotype of a weak and dependent woman. In different countries there were ladies who were no longer satisfied with the famous German rule of three K’s: “Kinder, Kuche, Kirche” (children, kitchen, church). Thanks to the first athletes, strong, independent personalities began to come into fashion, who, if necessary, can stand up for themselves. The fact that now I sometimes want to return to the weaker sex a little femininity is another question, in the early 1900s the very idea that a woman can be beautiful and strong at the same time was truly revolutionary, so such ladies were most often surprised and interest, but delight is not always.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
One of the first ladies who, instead of embroidering, took up weight lifting and swinging biceps, was the American feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Public work turned into the main occupation for her, and a woman all her life showed by her example that the mistress of the house does not have to be a fragile unearthly creature. It is clear that peasant women and factory workers were never like that, but aristocracy and physical strength for women at the beginning of the 20th century were contradictory concepts. So even an attempt to combine in the thoughts of the townsfolk these incompatible things can be considered a huge merit.
“Lady Hercules” or “Great Sandwin”
Austrian strongwoman Katie Brumbach went down in history as the first lady to receive the title of the most powerful woman in the world. Katie was born in Vienna in a family of circus artists. Both her father and her mother performed strength exercises, so in this case it was clear where the girl had a real strong power from an early age. Already a teenager, she was in her father – two meters tall, physically incredibly developed. Later, the girl began to perform under the pseudonyms “Lady Hercules” and “Great Sandvina.” The artist, despite the gigantic growth, found a mate, and the couple performed for many years together. The main trick of the giantess was the rise above the head of her beloved spouse. That, although it was also not a dwarf, in comparison with his missus seemed subtle. Naturally, the audience from such a couple was delighted. Spouses demonstrated this trick even in old age.
Kate Williams – “Volcano”
In Britain in those same years there was no equal to a strong woman who performed under the name of “Volcano”. This pseudonym hid a girl, Kate Williams, who, in her youth, fled from her strict father-preacher to be with her beloved. Her chosen one, a circus artist, married Kate, and the young people began to perform together. It turned out that the fugitive, if inferior to her husband in strength, was only a little. The couple created a successful attraction “Atlas and Volcano”, with which traveled the Old and New Worlds. In old photographs popular at the beginning of the 20th century, the Volcano is captured as an incredibly strong, but at the same time touching and beautiful woman. She did a lot to promote a healthy lifestyle, urging women to play sports and refuse corsets.
One of the most popular strong women of her time was Lavery Vali. The woman became famous under the name “Charmion” (Charmion). The girl was born in Sacramento and became a famous gymnast and athlete. She is considered the pioneer of female bodybuilding, since the beauty of a strong body has become her hallmark. Lavery was in many ways the first and, like any pioneer, often became the object of criticism. In those days, her performances and photographs, in principle, slightly crossed the line of what is permitted in a decent society. Speaking on stage, Charmion very effectively demonstrated her figure first, drawn into Victorian clothes, and then, rising on the trapeze to the ceiling itself, even more effectively got rid of excess toilet parts and remained in a circus costume – a tight tights. This number with a striptease conquered the famous inventor Thomas Edison so much that in 1901 he even shot the short film “Undressing on a trapeze”. It is clear that the artist had a scandalous reputation and crazy success. She shocked the society with her photographs. This woman was the first to demonstrate the muscles of an almost completely bare torso, and she also did this very artistically and beautifully.