Courtesy of Weider Health and Fitness
Courtesy of Weider Health and Fitness
This is an ode to the girl who could literally lift her husband over her head.
With young feminists and allies lifting up old school icons like Ruth Bader Ginsberg (aka The Notorious) RBG and Rosie The Riveter, there's a strong personality that should not be forgotten: Abbye "Pudgy" Stockton.
The original Muscle Beach girl, Stockton, paved the way for women in fitness. She was one of the first iron women to train, long before crash diets or female fitness and social media stars were ever imagined. For Stockton, fitness was a relief for her, turning her into a lucrative and legendary career.
But that's not how it started.
Born Abbye Eville 1
In the 1930s she worked as a telephone operator and became restless with her office job. She decided to lift her weight by moving from her bedroom to Muscle Beach. The courage this young woman had to lean on the famous beach of Santa Monica – surrounded by people like Joe Gold and George Eiferman – and the lift is amazing.
Stockton would raise with her future husband Les Stockton, who studied at UCLA. Together they did gymnastics and strength exercises on the beach. Abbye lifted her 180-pound husband over her head while he was doing a handstand. Another routine they would do on Muscle Beach would be to lift Les Abbye over his head while raising a pound of 100 pounds. Barbell.
Les supported Abbyes passion for fitness unbelievable. Hey men! Note!
Stockton described her Muscle Beach's initial feelings of insecurity and how she defeated them said that mastering the handstand was a major turning point for her, as in the book LA Sports: Playing, Playing and Community in the City of Angels by Wayne Wilson and David K Wiggins.
Quoted in the book, she said she grew slowly and found the atmosphere in Muscle Beach endlessly inspirational: "We may have learned our acrobatics from each other, but we still wanted things to be perfect The movements were impressive and beautiful … Everyone else was so good, I felt I had to be perfect too, "she said.
Stands at 5 & 2" and wi he weighs 115 pounds. Stockton's personal records are 100 pounds. Press, 105 lb. snatch and a 135 lb. clean and ever, according to barbend.com .
Weightlifting for women was not the only aspect of the culture that Stockton had influenced, it also changed the play for swimwear. Stockton and her mother felt constrained by the traditional "swimsuits" of the era and designed two-piece bathing suits that would be easier to wear for them. How did you do that? Stockton's mother literally tore the fitted bra out of the top of an outfit.
In an LA Times (19459019) 1988 interview, Stockton recalled: "You could not buy a two-parter, and my mother tore up an old brassiere to use as a pattern."  How hard was that?
In 1944, Stockton wrote a column for women in the popular fitness publication Strength and Health 19459019 – titled "Barbelles" – which she continued to produce for a decade.
One could argue that Stockton not only makes one of the original ladies of iron, but also one of the first female "influencers". All of today's social media fitness personalities have much to thank her for.
Prior to Stockton, all the women who had risen were all delegated to theatrical performances at the circus, and most were inhumanly tall. Stockton showed that strength and physical fitness do not have to be inhumane to be impressive or inspiring.
Stockton was the first woman to show the world that fitness and traditional femininity are not mutually exclusive. This was mirrored in Pinup Girls during the Second World War and post-war culture, with occasional shots of these women imitating these symbols, such as Venus with Biceps : A Pictorial History of Muscular Women ] by David Chapman ,
Throughout the 1940s, Stockton was among the top bodybuilders of the time, including Steve Reeves and John Grimek, and appeared on the front page of more than 40 magazines
After the Second World War, Stockton opened a gym for women at the Sunset Boulevard, which expanded to two other locations in California, joined forces with Mr. America, John Farbotnik, in 1952. The Amateur Athletic Union approved a women's weightlifting contest. In the same year, Physical Culture magazine Stockton was awarded the Miss Physical Culture Venus Award.
Stockton was never afraid to cross borders and speak out against those who did not believe in them. "People always said that if women worked out, they would look masculine or could not get pregnant," she said Sports Illustrated Women in 2002. "We just laughed because we knew they were wrong . "
Les and Abbye were married throughout their lives and had a daughter together. Les Stockton died in 2004, followed by Alzheimer's at the age of 88 in 2006.
Abbye Stockton will always be remembered as one of the original iron women, and the Queen of Muscle Beach, which inspired and excited women everywhere.