This is a documentary on Norwegian bikini fitness athlete Amalie Sophie Hanssen (18). What motivates her to compete and what role does it play in her daily life? 

The documentary has been awarded the Grand Prize in The PDN EDU Student photo contest in 2015.

Weight lifting and muscle building is becoming more and more popular amongst Norwegian women. But some of them takes the training to another level. Bikini fitness has exploded in popularity since it was introduced in Norway in 2012. Bikini fitness is a type of bodybuilding originating in the USA. International Federation Body-Building (IFBB) introduced the category to draw more women into bodybuilding by focusing on leanness and muscle definition instead of sheer muscle size.

Psychiatrist Finn Skårderud has coined the phrase “body is the new soul” to describe our society’s obsession with exercise, body and appearance and the trend to constantly evolve and improve to be the “best version of yourself”. While people in the middle ages focused on perfecting the soul and put value in moral, our society places value on controlling and perfecting our physical selves. 

Bikini fitness athletes are judged based on complexion, body symmetry, amount of body fat, facial beauty and confidence on stage. According to the rules of IFBB, their physical appearence should “resemble what you see in models”, and hair and makeup should compliment the athlete in an attractive “total package”. Norway’s most prominent athlete Sandra Jokic has called bikini fitness a “beauty competition with muscles”. It has been critiqued for being overly sexualized and for being responsible for promoting eating disorders.

But what lies behind the ten minutes in the limelight? What does she have to do and sacrifice to keep doing this? How does she see herself and the environment she is part of? How does it affect her body image and sense of self?