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Cutting Up is a short documentary that examines the rapidly decreasing presence of women bodybuilders at muscle contests.

This project is now completed and being submitted to film festivals. It was conceptualized and directed by me, Veronica Pinkham, as my senior thesis film at Occidental College, where I majored in Media Arts and Culture.

“Cutting Up” is a phrase within bodybuilding culture that refers to when a competitor works to shed body fat and increase muscle definition. The bodybuilder’s dedication to such practices is extreme – muscle hardness and symmetry are coveted features when you want to catch the eyes of the judges.

However, that’s not all that women competitors have to worry about in professional contests. They are also judged on their hair, make up, and overall “femininity.” The criteria for judging such factors often is unknown and varies contest to contest. This film explores the unique challenges that exist for women bodybuilders and muscle competitors by exposing such double standards. Throughout the film, we examine the fact that fewer and fewer women bodybuilders are competing.

We asked several women competitors – a retired champion, a bodybuilder, and a figure competitor (a less muscular division) – to reflect on the current state of the sport, especially in regards to rumored threats by the presence of the Bikini Division. Women are entering into this division in droves, which requires the appearance of a lean body with no muscle definition. This documentary focuses on this trend towards less-muscled women at muscle competitions to understand where the future of bodybuilding for women lies.

Cutting Up seeks to examine the feminization of muscular women to further celebrate the choices and commitments of female bodybuilders dedicated to the intense lifestyle. They share their stories of experience, motivation, and loss while examining why fewer and fewer women enter the bodybuilding division at muscle contests. In producing this project my goal has been to emphasize that all individuals should own the rights to our own bodies, and I hope that viewers find personal strength in that message.

Producer: Ryan Metzler

Director/Co-Producer/Sound Designer/Co-Editor: Veronica Pinkham

Cinematographer/Gaffer/Sound Recordist: Kyle Scoble

Camera Assistants/Grips: Ruby Paiva and Megan Boaglio

Additional Cinematography/Co-Editor: Zack Windheim


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