Women’s bodybuilding has had a turbulent maturation. From the days of names like Rachel McLish and Kike Elomaa (the earliest Ms. Olympia winners), whom looked just like shapely, dieted-down runners to the square-jawed, extremely-muscled mesomorphs currently placing on the pro scene, there has yet to be a consistent look that competitors can strive for and come into a contest knowing they will win. Judging standards have taken stutter-steps: advancing towards greater muscularity; retreating back to more feminine shapeliness. Consistently, they bewilder competitors by switching the emphasis extreme definition, feminine lines, muscle size each taking their turn as the preeminent standard with little rhyme, reason or advance warning.
In an attempt to please everyone, the NPC (progressively following in the footsteps of Britain’s NABBA organization) segmented female competition based on the physical ideal each competitor worked towards. They added first a female fitness category
This seemed to be a workable solution. But, the forces of entropy being what they are, the judging criteria of fitness and figure competitions, which seemed like such a final solution to the female bodybuilding versus public marketability, soon suffered from the same murky standards. Competitors at state and local level competitions began to win with physiques that would easily outmuscle the aforementioned early Ms.. Olympias. Reading the historical signs, officials warned the excessive mass would be counted against in judging. Next, judges warned fitness and figure competitors to avoid excessive muscular definition. Since the same judges that officiated over the male and female bodybuilding also judged fitness and figure, the criteria often wavered. Competitors pulling back on their diets on the past few days before a show in order to avoid muscle striations sometimes found themselves cursing when the fickle judging panels rewards victory to a more shredded opponent.
The ideal middle ground of lean, feminine muscle on a small, athletic frame seemed a difficult combination to find. Swedish-import Stina Tellhammer seems to possess the natural gifts necessary to both impress the most jaded fitness veteran and to inspire the non-athletically inclined couch potato to stampede into the nearest gym.
At a mere twenty-one years of age, Stina has made an imposing start in the fitness arena. Her wide shoulder structure, incredibly delicate skeletal structure and near flawless muscle attachments won her unanimous win in the Northern Kentucky medium figure class. Not only is this impressive when looking at the level of competition at that show, but the accomplishment is even more noteworthy when one considers that the show was her very first competition.
If she merely continues on her present course, slowly adding eight to ten more pounds of lean sculpted muscle to key areas, she could be the athlete to beat at any local or regional level figure event. More importantly, she can serve as a model of the type of athletic, yet undeniably feminine, look that is possible through proper nutrition and exercise.
Stina is an intriguing woman of contrasts. Her warm smile and kind eyes instill a sense of simple innocence that belies one with the worldliness only known by those that have lived on two continents. She speaks with a mature sense of self rarely evident in those her age. She is confident in her goals, without being boastful. It is easy to forget that she is in her early twenties until one hears the ring of her laugh, uninhibited by self-consciousness. The unique contrasts in her personality seem to reflect the delicate balance between athletic musculature and femininity expressed so perfectly in her physique.
When asked of her family, Stina’s initial response is, Do you mean my Swedish family or my American Family? Her Swedish family includes three sisters and a brother. The American family she refers to are the people she works for in a northern Cincinnati suburb as a live-in nanny. Stina helps around the house andtakes care of the family’s thirteen yearold daughter, of whom she has become very attached. She is great, Stina says. I drive her around and make her meals. In addition to the opportunity to come to the States, Her American family pays all of Stina’s expenses, allowing her to attend college (where she studies health and nutrition).
Knowing that Stina must present quite a positive role model for a young teenage girl, I asked if she ever tries to force her healthy nutrition on a fast-food indoctrinated American teenager. Predictably, Stina replied that, She doesn’t like bodybuilding foods that much. Still, the positive example and the universally attractive results of Stina’s fitness lifestyle must have an impact, even if only on a subconscious level.
In her own youth, Stina was very active and athletic, enjoying soccer, basketball, skiing and horseback riding. Around the age of fifteen, she abruptly quit all sports, deciding that it might be more fun to just spend time with her friends. Being active was part of her nature however and she found herself drawn into running and lifting weights. At first it was kind of hard because I was doing it alone, she recalls. None of my friends were into working out. I saw results fairly fast and just tried to enjoy it.
She continued working out after coming to the United States. I had a trainer last year, he was the one who suggested I try competing, Stina says. The results (and her impressive class win in her first competition) speak for themselves.