Strong Girls

For decades, women’s bodybuilding and physique contests in Myanmar were not taken seriously and focused on tradition and beauty. From the 1990’s until 2013, women were allowed to participate in physique contests but could only wear a tailored shirt and longyi; the traditional full length skirt that is worn daily by women in Myanmar. While showing off their physiques in body fitness contests, the country's traditional attire was a rule. In official physique and bodybuilding contests, women are judged on body fat and muscle definition. For years, Burmese women were prevented from entering competitions outside of Myanmar where contestants must wear revealing lycra halter tops and shorts, which show muscle that can then be judged. In 2013, the country began to officially recognize bodybuilding as a sport for women. Participants are now allowed to wear the lycra uniforms and have begun to compete internationally. This behind the scenes look was one of the first competitions inside Myanmar where women were able to wear the lycra sports outfit revealing their form and going beyond the longyi.

Photography, Journalism, Photojournalism