Question: How do you drown a hipster?
Answer: In the mainstream.
Another question: Why did the hipster burn his tongue while eating pizza?
Answer: Because he began eating it before it became cool.
Last question: Why did the hipster stop swimming in the ocean?
Answer: Because it was too current.
No doubt you’ve heard these jokes before. If you haven’t, you obviously don’t spent enough time on the Internet. But for those of you who love to waste your valuable free time, I’d venture a guess that you should be familiar with the social phenomenon of labeling people who are (supposedly) anti-establishment, anti-pop culture and anti-cool as being “hipsters.”
According to Wikipedia, a “hipster” is defined as “a postmodern subculture of young, urban middle-class adults and older teenagers that first appeared in the 1990s and became particularly prominent in the 2010s, being derived from earlier movements in the 1940s. The subculture is associated with indie music and alternative music, a varied non-mainstream fashion sensibility (including vintage and thrift store clothes), progressive or independent political views, and alternative lifestyles.”
Alternate lifestyles. Independent ways of thinking. Doing things most other people don’t. Being involved in a subculture that is as far away from the “mainstream” as you can get.
In other words, marching to the beat of your own drum. Going against the grain. You get it.
After much thought and deep contemplation, I’ve come to a radical conclusion – one that sounds strange on the surface but actually makes a ton of sense once you get down to analyzing it from every possible angle. Are you ready for this?
Female bodybuilders are the original hipsters.
No, seriously. They are. Think about it for a moment.
Female bodybuilders exist outside the, ahem, “mainstream.” When we think about the typical form of a human female, certainly one with the physique of an NFL linebacker shouldn’t initially come to mind. A woman with shoulders the size of bowling balls isn’t exactly typical of what you see every day. Seeing a lady strut around with arms strong enough to bend steel is a rare sight.
How often do you run into a female homo sapien with bulky legs, a broad back, six-pack abs, a wide chest, burly arms and veins popping out of her skin? If this happens often to you, please let me know where you live!
But outside of what you see on her exterior, consider what a female bodybuilder has to do in her personal life. She has to dedicate her life (not a portion of her life, but her entire life) toward her sport (or art) in ways that go well beyond what any casual hobby would ask you to do. Bodybuilding isn’t a leisurely activity like knitting or scrapbooking. It’s a lifestyle in every sense of the word.
She has to radically change the way she eats, works, exercises, sleeps, drinks and schedules her life. She has to make a commitment to live her life in a way that’s contrary to how most of us conduct ours. She even does this for reasons that most of us wouldn’t understand.
Why torture yourself? Why endure so many long hours at the gym? Why give up eating sweets, fatty foods and other delicious goods? For what end?
And why the hell would you want to LOOK like that?
These are questions that “mainstream” folks ask all the time. These are thoughts that people who aren’t “into that sort of thing” contemplate whenever they encounter a woman with biceps like Alina Popa or legs like Julie Bourassa. Expectedly, you have to be more knowledgeable about the world of bodybuilding and athletics in order to genuinely appreciate what she has to go through to look the way she does.
Additionally, bodybuilding is truly a subculture. They have their own slang. Their own events. Their own hierarchies. Their own social rules (both spoken and unspoken). They have their own clubs. Their own circles of friendships. Outsiders. Insiders. Those who are actual bodybuilders. Those who are pretenders. Those who are wannabes. Those who wish to be a bodybuilder but don’t want to lift that heavy-ass weight (Ronnie Coleman reference, anybody?). These are common traits of any subculture.
I will admit I am not informed enough about the world of competitive bodybuilding to write extensively about it. I am not an insider. I’ve only met a small handful of truly professional (and hardworking amateur) bodybuilders, both male and female. But I know enough to know what I don’t know. I know that unless you’re actually a legitimate bodybuilder, you’ll have no idea what it’s like to be one.
This is what a subculture looks like. I am merely an outsider looking in. Many of you are, too.
But what’s even more thought-provoking is when we discuss specifically the world of female bodybuilding, which is a subculture within a subculture. I could go on for days writing about female muscle fetishism, women who wrestle men, men who love to be dominated by muscular women, women who travel the world to book “sessions” with male (and female) fans, muscle worship, BDSM, D/s roleplaying, sthenolagnia, the psychology of admiring female muscle and plenty of other topics related to this sub-subculture.
What this really means, in a nutshell, is that female bodybuilders are so radically different, they belong in a category of their own.
This should be justification for why female bodybuilders are the original hipsters. Alternate lifestyles? Check. Existing outside the mainstream? Check. Being part of a sub-subculture that’s so hidden most people in the general population probably couldn’t even tell you the name of a single FBB? Triple check!
But let’s look at this from a slightly different viewpoint. Consider how a female bodybuilder is treated by others. Consider how people around her behave when she’s in their presence. Consider what it’s like to exist in a society where you can genuinely be considered “unique.”
People stare at you. Some are disgusted by you. Some are uncontrollably mesmerized by you. Men are jealous of you. Women are flabbergasted by you and can’t stop wondering why you would willingly choose to be that “big.” Children are confused by you. There are those who think you’re weird. Others are turned on by you after one mere look and can’t stop obsessing over you. And all of the above cannot look away no matter how hard they try.
Am I generalizing a bit? Of course. But let me generalize to my heart’s delight.
Considering the world an FBB lives in, it’s not hard to see why more women don’t pursue this lifestyle. Personally, as an admirer of female muscle, I would love nothing more than for more women to look like Deidre Pagnanelli, Lauren Powers, Denise Masino, BrandiMae, Monica Mollica and Yvette Bova. But sadly, these fantastic and gorgeous lasses are the exception and not the rule.
If women with big biceps were the norm, I think a lot of problems with misogyny in our world would disappear (not completely, but significantly). If society at large openly encouraged women to lift at the gym instead of killing themselves doing endless cardio, we would be a lot healthier overall. Eating disorders would slowly regress. Sexism would dissipate. The dynamics of gender-based violence would change (I’m not an expert to say in what regards).
Therefore, as we all know, this is indeed a rarity. Which explains why female bodybuilders are as counterculture as you can get. A physically strong woman goes against every gender stereotype our culture has engrained inside it. A woman who’s stronger than a man only serves, as many of us unfortunately believe, to emasculate him. A woman with big muscles is a traitor to her gender. She will inevitably scare away men who are intimidated by her statuesque physique.
We’ve all heard this before in some form or fashion, haven’t we?
But I don’t feel that way. And most of you probably don’t either. But enough do to discourage most women from ever picking up a dumbbell at the gym. What a shame that is.
The reason why I’m asserting that female bodybuilders are the original hipsters is because, I’d argue, an FBB is truly countercultural. Unlike those who claim to be “countercultural,” a muscular woman proves it every day of her life.
There’s the conventional wisdom that someone who’s countercultural can’t actually admit to being countercultural. To self-label makes you vulnerable to being attacked.
You’re not really anti-establishment. You just want others to think you are so you can fit into certain social circles. Postmodernism, if my understanding is correct, is a worldview that aims to defy traditional labels and establish a more subjective manner of describing things. So anyone who claims to be a hipster really isn’t one.
This is why an FBB is really the only group of people who can legitimately claim to be outside the mainstream. Whether they openly admit to it or not, they are regardless. For all the reasons I just outlined, being a muscular woman is as far from “normal” as you can get. It’s an authentic alternative lifestyle that is immune to “wannabes” and “posers.”
Being an FBB isn’t something you can casually “be.” Either you are or you aren’t.
Think of it this way. How many of us went through a “hippie” phase during college? Even if you never attended college, maybe you had a similar experience at a different point in your life. The point being, remember that time in your life when you had a so-called intellectual and pseudo-philosophical “awakening” where you became the biggest anti-Establishmentarian in the known universe?
If so, how many of you eventually scrapped most of that crap once you entered the “real world” and saw things to be somewhere in between? I’m guessing a lot of you…myself included.
Most of us love the idea of being a hipster (or hippie, if you’re from a different era) more than actually being a hipster. We fell in love with the snarky glamour of being “different” instead of embracing the unique facets inherent in whatever makes you truly different. Do you listen to indie rock because you actually like the music…or because people around you are listening to it and you want to fit in?
College Hippie: Hey, Bob! Do you consider yourself an anti-Bourgeois, Proletarian-supporting Marxist liberal free-thinking “citizen of the Earth” socialist flower child?
Bob: Uh, sure. Why not?
This isn’t so with female bodybuilders. You can’t pretend to be one. You can’t put up a façade of being one, unlike people who like to think of themselves as a “don’t-tread-on-me” beatnik. You can’t fake being muscular. Your muscles are either big…or not big. Period.
But the problem with being anti-mainstream is that you never make any attempts to become, you know, mainstream. I really wish female bodybuilding and athletics would become more mainstream. That would be spectacular! Imagine turning on your TV, opening a magazine or glancing at a fashion ad in the mall and seeing ladies like Autumn Raby instead of Giselle Bundchen. I have nothing against Mrs. Tom Brady, but come on! Let’s give women like Ms. Raby some love!
All of us female muscle fans would cheer that on. Trust me.
So I guess this is one aspect to this discussion that I hope isn’t true. I don’t want female bodybuilders, athletes and fitness professionals to hide underground. I also don’t want society to reject them for being who they are. I want mainstream acceptance of female muscle, admiring female muscle and the idea of women lifting at the gym. This is what I want.
If it suddenly became “cool” for a woman to have toned muscles on her body instead of just skin and bones, then count me in!
I’d be as cool as a cucumber.