MADISON, Wis. — Six years ago, Sarah Jimieson had no structure to her life.

She enjoyed her job as a lash stylist and hairdresser, but outside of work, she often found herself partying and hanging out at local Madison bars.

Then she discovered bodybuilding.  

“Bodybuilding has taught me to be disciplined not only with my food but all other aspects of my life,” said Jimieson. 

Competitive bodybuilding is a sport that takes both mental and physical resilience. 

(Spectrum News 1/Cody Taylor)

“It is a 24/7 sport, so your sleep has to be on point, your diet has to be on point, your supplements. I mean, if anything is out of whack, then it can really throw things off,” said Jimieson. 

Since Jimieson started lifting, it has helped her become disciplined in all aspects of her life.

But Jimieson’s story isn’t unique. 

Sam Masino has been involved with competitive lifting for 20 years. He said more and more women have been taking up bodybuilding and powerlifting to stay fit and healthy. 

“It was mostly a male-dominated sort of thing,” said Masino. “Now it is more and more women doing it and it has just become a very competitive sport now.”

Masino said part of the reason for the rising popularity in women’s weightlifting is marketing and branding. 

“With social media you are seeing a lot of fit, feminine and beautiful, muscular women online and I think that has changed people’s perspective,” said Masino.

(Courtesy of Sarah Jimieson)

With hashtags such as #BodyPositive flooding Twitter, women across the U.S. have been fighting the narrative that has been attached to their bodies by marketing campaigns

Despite this, Jimieson said she still sees women like her being bullied on online platforms. 

“You know, someone may comment on a super jacked girl’s photo and be like, ‘Oh my god, is she even a woman anymore?’” said Jimieson. 

She said she has never had anyone make any negative comments about her body, but she said she wouldn’t care if they did. 

”You have to learn to control your emotions and not take things personally, so if someone thinks you look gross, well let them think that because there’s probably a million other people out there who think you look great,” said Jimieson. 

Recently, Jimieson competed in the Wisconsin Natural Championship, taking home first place in her class. She said she came close to winning the overall but “the girl who won was just massive.”