Sophie by Camille Vivier. Interview with a Bodybuilder
“Women are complex and muscles are not the monopoly of men.” For Beauty Papers Issue Seven GLAMOUR photographer Camille Vivier presents her muse Sophie. Here Camille talks to the woman behind the biceps and finds a story of female strength and beauty.
Interview and Photography CAMILLE VIVIER
Camille Vivier: Hi Sophie, are you there?
Sophie Rouget: Yes I am.
CV: so let me ask you a few questions. First, how did you get started with your Body fitness practice?
SR: I started after my pregnancy and the birth of my daughter. I had lost a lot of weight, so I started bodybuilding to gain some weight back.
CV: but did you have any interest in that practice before? Or was it just by chance?
SR: My husband had always done a bit of bodybuilding and he gave me a taste of it. At first I found the sporty bodies too skinny.
"There was a whole mental process because pushing cast iron, developing your back, working to get large shoulders… they don’t arrive without a good reason. I wanted to be physically strong to become psychologically strong."
CV: Did you also find these bodies too masculine?
SR: Yes too masculine and I didn’t like the posing. It’s only when the bikini category arrived that I started to get really interested. The bodies were more feminine and so was the stage posing. Most of all you could compete without doping yourself.
CV: Was the process of transforming your body also emotional?
SR: The desire to compete came after a year of sports practice. Physically I was preferring the woman I was becoming rather than the puny one I was before. There was a whole mental process because pushing cast iron, developing your back, working to get large shoulders… they don’t arrive without a good reason. I wanted to be physically strong to become psychologically strong. At this time of my life I was getting rid of a very toxic relationship with my father. Soon after, my husband and I found out that our daughter has autism. These huge events made me want to be indestructible, and I wanted that to be obviously visible on my body. It was my therapy. Soul and body are a whole… you know.
CV: And how are the aesthetics of muscles, the strong body, this idea of a certain power – connected to your idea of beauty and femininity?
SR: For me there’s no rule. I am convinced that a woman is beautiful if she’s in harmony with herself. If so she radiates beauty. I think that beauty has so many facets… and they can all be found mixed in one person. Women are complex and muscles are not the monopoly of men. A muscular, shapely, worked-out body can be extremely sexy for a woman.
CV: I also think so. It reminds me of ancient statuary – that can be extremely sensual.
SR: So True!
CV: So by shaping your body did you feel more beautiful? Closer to what you wanted to be?
SR: Yes. More powerful so more beautiful because I felt more confident.
CV: Who are your role models?
SR: I believe that we are our own model and that our goal is to work at becoming the best version of ourself. This discipline is a battle with yourself and all these little improvements make the competition exhilarating and exciting. There is one athlete who gave me the desire to do professional competitions, her name is Ashley Kaltwasser, she’s an American athlete who was crowned Miss Olympia three times.
"I think that beauty has so many facets… and they can all be found mixed in one person. Women are complex and muscles are not the monopoly of men. A muscular, shapely, worked-out body can be extremely sexy for a woman."
CV: How about when you were a kid. What was your perception of glamour?
SR: When I was a teenager it was more about super skinny models, tall and slim, nothing related to my current tastes. I don’t really have a preconceived idea about beauty.
CV: Do you train everyday? Do you have time for yourself?
SR: I train early in the morning when my daughter is at school. In general my training oscillates between 5,6 or 7 days a week, depending on my schedule. But after training I come back home and I take care of my child.
CV: Are you comfortable with time passing? Are you scared of getting old?
SR: It’s funny because I love the idea of getting old, older… I never hide my age, I’m 38 and proud of it. But at the same time I do everything to seem younger. So contradictory [laughter.] There’s this idea of letting it go, of wisdom and at the same time you hang on to life. We don’t let it go so easily.
CV: There is a taboo around mature women and their will to being beautiful, desirable. It’s unfair.
SR: Old age is like a return to childhood for people, they believe that it’s a regression… that’s so wrong it’s a conditioning, a belief. An old woman – sexually fulfilled – bothers people, and yes it’s so unfair and unjustified.
CV: Does having a twin sister acts like a mirror?
SR: Twin zygosity is complex, it’s very hard to find your identity when you grow up together. You want to do everything the same because you have the same history but we are two totally different people. It’s hard to admit it. you have to face another person with another way of thinking, different values. At first it’s violent to accept it, but now we can accept it more and more.
CV: Do you see a new relationship to our own image with social media?
SR: Oh gosh social media! That’s toxic, you only see perfect physics. You must be aware that it’s not reality to avoid the psychological disaster.
"I’m not against plastic surgery If it helps people to get rid of their complexes. But doing it because It’s fashionable - no. For competitions, I was often told that it would be smart to have my breasts redone. I don’t have a problem with my breasts so why should I do it!"
CV: It makes people narcissistic no? What do you think of plastic surgery?
SR: Yes very narcissistic but we say the same about bodybuilding haha. I’m not against plastic surgery If it helps people to get rid of their complexes. But doing it because It’s fashionable no. For competitions, I was often told that it would be smart to have my breasts redone. I don’t have a problem with my breasts so why should I do it!
CV: Really! Someone told you that?
SR: Yes “bikini” girls all do it for the general shape, because it’s supposed to be more harmonious. When you do “la sèche” – that is about losing all the fat and getting very dry. It often causes you to lose your breasts, and so many women do it to win the competitions.
CV: I was wondering if you were enjoying our collaboration? If you liked the photographic work I’m doing about you?
SR: Yes I enjoy it a lot! I totally trust you and your vision. It’s a real exchange and even if we’re living in different universes I feel that we understand each other, there’s no judgment.
CV: Thank you Sophie!
SR: Thank you Camille from the depth of my heart, I’m touched and honored.