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Female bodybuilders. What are they and when did they originate? That's a bit difficult to pinpoint. However, muscular women have been around since the dawn of time. The term "female bodybuilder" didn't become prominent until the early 1980's. Before then, bodybuilding was primarily a male-only sport. However, there were some notable exceptions before this.

Pudgy StocktonProbably the first well-known female bodybuilder was Abbye "Pudgy" Stockton. In the 1940's she was posing and performing on the famed Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, CA. She became known as the "First Lady of Iron."

Rachel McLishIt took almost another 40 years before female bodybuilders were somewhat accepted by the mainstream media. Rachel McLish heralded the "ladies of the 80's" era. She won the first "Ms. Olympia" contest which set the pace for female bodybuilding for years to come.

By today's standards of female bodybuilding, Rachel McLish would hardly be noticed. At the time she and others were a novelty. They made the TV talk show circuit, wrote diet and exercise books and some even had their own fitness shows ala Jack LaLanne.

Pumping Iron II: The WomenTheir popularity was such that it spawned the movie sequel, "Pumping Iron II: The Women." The VHS box featured an image of Lori Bowen.

Miller Beer commercialLori was also used on a Miller beer TV commercial.

American GladiatorsAmerican Gladiators (1989-1994), one of the first TV "reality" shows, pitted your average amateur athlete wanna-be against some very intimidating physiques. On the female side there were the likes of Raye "Zap" Hollitt, Tonya Knight as "Gold," and Lori "Ice" Fetrick.

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