Women bodybuilders are challenging gender norms in Japan, as a growing number of women, many of them in their 40s and 50s, reject the country’s obsession with women looking “kawaii,” or cute.
“I want to help change perceptions so that more people can appreciate the beauty of a muscular woman,” said Satoko Yamanouchi, a five-time winner at the Japan bodybuilding championships.
Yamanouchi, 56, said she fell in love with the sport in her late 40s, while looking for a way to stay fit.
“I don’t want to look like the Hulk,” she noted. “I want to look beautiful and keep my femininity. I just don’t feel like a regular housewife,” added Yamanouchi. “I’m always striving to create the perfect body.”
“My husband didn’t like it when I started either, his wife wearing a bikini,” she added. “But he came around.”
Bodybuilding as a sport is booming in the island nation, where the number of registered bodybuilders has doubled to around 3,000 over the past six years, including roughly 300 women.
“At long last women are starting to work out regularly, but Japanese men still don’t really accept muscle-bound women,” said two-time Japan body-building champion Yuri Yasui, 33. “It’s important to change attitudes. The way to a feminine body — getting that tiny waist and a round bum — is by building muscle.”
Speaking with Channel NewsAsia, Yasui also revealed the American inspiration that sparked her interest in the world of bodybuilding.
Read the full story at Channel NewsAsia.