Tuesday, 13 June 2017
OK, let's say I want to make a case for Aleesha not winning last weekend's Omaha Pro. Maria Mikola, who walked away with the first prize, is, as recently noted on the blog, most excellent, deserving of all the rewards the judges wish to give her, and she was as good if not better in Omaha than she had been finishing runner-up in Toronto.
But make a case for Aleesha finishing 7th? I think not.
When I first heard about the result I hadn't seen any pictures as yet, none of the contest at least. I'd seen Aleesha "drying out nicely", and made-up and "super nervous" on her Instagram, and I'd seen a check-in photo on NPC News Online. She looked amazing to me, but then what do I know? Something must have gone badly wrong for her, I reasoned. Maybe she hadn't dried out quite as much as she'd thought she had. Maybe the rest of the field really were good enough to have finished above her.
I waited for the contest pics to go up.
What I saw was mystifying. Aleesha was not just huge, but as close to her 2014 best as it was possible to be in terms of conditioning. It just didn't make sense. 7th?!
Perhaps in a line-up containing some of the greatest female bodybuilders of all time she might not have made the top 6. Perhaps in my very own Fantasy Contest this version of Aleesha might have finished 7th. But - and with the greatest respect to all the other competitors here (and as they stood on stage and listened to the announcement of the placings, they must have known) - not at this contest. It's just so obviously wrong.
Worse news was to come though.
Feedback from the judges, Aleesha revealed to her 71,000 Instagram followers soon after the result got out. "Lose 20lbs of muscle and you'll start placing higher..."
The female muscle lovin' community promptly hit the proverbial roof.
I had a feeling about this since it started, wrote one. Call this Ms O replacement what you like, it's still an IFBB event: their judges, their rules, their attitude towards BIG girls. If only the Woods could do without Jim [Manion, IFBB chief, and he really hates female muscle]! For various reasons, our brother continues, most righteously, the list of still training, no longer competing FBBs is growing, and the Rising Phoenix can't afford to lose class acts like Aleesha. Sadly, it increasingly seems that if you want to really do this sport properly and be appreciated for it, it's best not to enter contests.
Not IFBB contests anyway.
Unlike our insightful head, I have to admit I thought all this kind of thing had gone away. Seriously. Other than the odd bit of bleating about Sheila Bleck's win in Tampa and Rising Phoenix 2nd place last year, I can't recall a less controversial series of FBB contests than we have had since Wings of Strength took hold of the reins.
How wrong I was.
Worst of all, we may never see Aleesha on stage again.
"Lose 20lbs of muscle and you'll start placing higher..." Not gonna happen! Aleesha defiantly told her fans. Last time I checked this was bodybuilding not body starving. I'm just going to keep doing what I do and they are entitled to their opinion. I'm going to step away from the stage, but all you real muscle fans get ready and stay tuned because this girl is ready to grow and be the best version of herself.
Strip the sport of its stars, strip the competitors of muscle, and thus undermine those who quite obviously have the women's best interests at heart. The plan is so up front evil it's almost funny. But I don't see Aleesha, or any of Aleesha's multitude of fans laughing, nor any fan of pro Female Bodybuilding in general. How many more female muscle superstars like Aleesha can Wings of Strength let go before...?
There's rumours of a "deal" between the IFBB and Wings of Strength - weight divisions may be coming back. The IFBB wants to push the bigger Physique ladies into Light-heavyweight Bodybuilding, they say, and introduce a "maximum weight" for the Heavyweights (proportional to height, of course, they wouldn't discriminate...)
I can't say for certain if any of this is true, but it's believable, isn't it? I've always said that Female Bodybuilding needs its own federation. The women need to take control, and unless they do, the sport will always have to deal, to dance to the Devil's tune.
And of course it's the women who suffer the most.
Sympathy for all those women who, unlike Aleesha, don't have a partner or a successful business or a sufficient webcam following to support themselves. That increased prize money Wings of Strength now offer still looks tempting, but they are going to have to spend some time downsizing - after so many years of hard graft spent growing - before they stand a chance of getting a piece of that prize money pie.
Sympathy for Irene Andersen, so upset with the IFBB's destruction of her sport she made a feature-length documentary about it, and has been as active as any over the last few years. In great shape and fifth in Omaha. No one's talking about her.
Sympathy for Mmmmonique Jones. Last seen at an FBB contest flogging T-shirts in the foyer at the Rising Phoenix, not even pretending any longer that she'll stand on stage again despite being one of the most genetically-gifted FBBs of her generation.
And sympathy for Aleesha, who to her credit has dealt with all this with a lot of class. Injury, illness, family... so many reasons for her not to have competed again. And yet she did. She came back, bigger and better, for the love of muscle and the sport, only to find the sport - or rather those who control the sport - had no love for her.
Email to paste into the IFBB Pro League contact page.
To Mr Jim Manion, IFBB Pro League President:
Sir, after a weekend on which another fine Female Bodybuilder has decided to quit the sport, I ask you to stop your systematic destruction of Female Bodybuilding. You've done enough now. As a fan of Female Bodybuilding, I appeal to you to let Wings of Strength run it, and let the women be as big as they want to be.
I fail to see why any decent person would want to prevent that.
Do it now. Do it here.