Celia Croft, a photographer, and Kate Kidney Bishop, a stylist, are both creatives fascinated by the world of women’s bodybuilding. Outsiders of the subculture, the two artists were intrigued by the sports high-flying aesthetic and its melange of “glamour mixed in with the extremes of a challenging sport.” Bishop was equally intrigued by “the interaction of art and athleticism.”
In what was originally meant to be a one-off shoot, the pair reached out to female bikini models via social media and decided to make create a photography series displaying the diversity of women competing as bikini models. Their portraits exploring the unique subculture have now been gathered together as Core, a photobook published by Cherryboy Publishing.
The book examines the link between the performance of gender and athleticism, in addition to the allure of the “glitzy and visually rich” world of female bodybuilding. “I was able to enter this unknown world through sports as a form of performance, and to give a voice to the beauty I see in these little worlds of power,” says Bishop of the photo series.
In traditionally gender-normative spaces, they recognized the possibility of bodybuilding as a means of subverting expectations of gender. “This led me to think about how sports are very inhospitable to the gender spectrum. I became interested in sports that had what I saw as gender-norm-bending qualities. This led me to bodybuilding – women excelling in the traditionally considered hyper-masc area of strength.” She continues: “I’m now really interested in any sports that have characteristics of redefining gender norms or bending them. I think these sports could maybe, hopefully, be a starting point for a whole new approach to gender in sport that is hospitable to the whole spectrum of gender identity.”
Cody is the Editor in Chief and senior contributor at liminul.
He is a photography aficionado, fashion enthusiast, avid Lana Del Rey fan, and lover of all things aesthetically pleasing.