The Scarcity Principle: What it Means, What We Can Learn From it and How it Relates to Female Bodybuilders

Cathy LeFrancois is the Holy Grail of female bodybuilders.

Cathy LeFrancois is the Holy Grail of female bodybuilders.

Let’s discuss a topic that’s relevant to both social psychology and economics.

The Scarcity Principle.

The Scarcity Principle refers to the belief that human beings tend to place a higher value on an object that is scarce and a lower value on objects that are abundant.

In other words, people are attracted to things that are in limited supply. We love anything that we consider to be “special” or “unique” or “available for a limited time only.”

We couldn’t care less for things that are readily available, accessible to the general public or are a dime a dozen. No sir! I want what nobody else can get.

If my cousin Bob and sister Jane can have it too…well, then count me out. I don’t want it anymore!

We can think of numerous examples in everyday life that confirm The Scarcity Principle. How about the Black Friday sales you see the day after Thanksgiving? If you think about it, any item that’s on sale on Black Friday is also available during the other 364 days of the calendar year. Yet, how can you say “no” to those low prices? How am I ever going to find discounts on washing machines this good anywhere else?

Or think of it in terms of the dating pool. Logically, we’d think that loneliness would never happen in a large metropolitan city. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Studies have shown (and I have no clue whatsoever who actually conducts these studies) that people have a harder time finding friends and romantic partners in a big city versus a smaller suburb or town. Why is this? Simple: When there are too many people around, you place a lower value on them.

Why date this particular guy or a girl when I have plenty of other options at my disposal?

Yet, people remain lonely despite these alleged “plenty of other options.” When you hear people say there are plenty of fish in the sea, it leaves a heartbroken person little comfort. Because, ironically, that’s the problem unto itself! There are way too many options out there for you to choose from. So, you get antsy and decide not to choose anyone at all.

The one and only Tina Chandler.

The one and only Tina Chandler.

It’s better to be safe (alone) than sorry (in a relationship that you ultimately find boring and unfulfilling), one rationalizes to one’s self.

According to census data, in 1950 the world’s population was approximately 2.5 billion people. Today, it’s well over 7 billion. That means in 64 years (which isn’t that much time when you consider how long humans have lived on this planet) the number of people on Earth has nearly tripled. Tripled! Think about that. At the end of World War II, for every person on the planet there would be two more today. If you killed (or magically transported to Venus) two-thirds of our population, you could return back to the days when Communism was considered the next big thing and poodle skirts were all the rage.

Oh, what a simpler time that was!

Yet, despite these statistical facts, we see worldwide an explosion of online dating websites, high divorce rates and loneliness in urban cities. With more people around, shouldn’t we have an easier time finding the love of our life? How can we not have enough friends when there are 7 billion potential buddies occupying this floating rock in space together?

Seem counterintuitive? It should, because none of this makes any logical sense. But, if you really think about it, all of this makes perfect sense.

Think of it this way. Imagine you’re about to have dinner at a restaurant. You’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary or just having a special night out on the town. You sit down (let’s imagine it’s an elegant Italian place), open the menu, scan your options and are dumbfounded. What do you order? I mean, there are so many dishes I could pick! I could get a pasta dish, a pizza, a calzone, a dinner salad, something from the seafood section…or I could sell out and get a hamburger.

I like hamburgers. Sure, I’ll go with the cheeseburger and fries, Mrs. Salvatore!

Having too many options makes people nervous. What if I choose the “wrong” option even though there probably isn’t a “wrong option” in the first place? Odds are every dish at this fine restaurant will provide you a great tasting dinner. But there’s that sliver of doubt in your mind that tells you one dish has to be superior to the rest. And you’d be a fool to pick the wrong one.

Monique Hayes is ready for her close-up!

Monique Hayes is ready for her close-up!

So do you ask your waiter or waitress to make a recommendation for you? Or do you close your eyes and randomly select a choice with your index finger? Either option would probably work equally well. Or you could simply order what someone else is having (“I’ll have what she’s having”), thus putting the decision-making pressure off of you.

The same goes for economics.

I don’t want the tablet device or smartphone that all my neighbors have. I want the newest model that none of these suckers have…even though they’ll eventually get it a year or two from now.

Because, let’s be completely honest here, who doesn’t want to be the envy of your pals for having the nicest and shiniest new toys?

Corporations and marketing teams exploit The Scarcity Principle to the point where it’s become a science. Figuring out how to maximize profit in a short amount of time given a limited supply of a particular product isn’t difficult to do. Create limited-time offers. Hype up a sales day. Intentionally release your new products slowly. Create an advertising strategy that implies that not everyone should use this product, but you can.

Everything boils down to making an object feel special even if it’s not. Conversely, when an object is in abundance, you don’t want it as much. Fifteen years ago it was cool to have a cell phone because no one else had one. Today, everyone and their grandmother has a smartphone that can call, text, surf the Internet and wash your car. Now it’s become mainstream. And nothing sucks more than something that’s lost its coolness and has become so damn ordinary.

A buff, beautiful Asian woman. Amanda Lau is scarce, indeed.

A buff, beautiful Asian woman. Amanda Lau is scarce, indeed.

So, let’s do a quick recap. We value things that are scarce. We don’t value things that are common. We get overwhelmed by too many options. We get underwhelmed when a previously rare commodity becomes commonplace. In a nutshell, supply (either the abundance or shortage of it) warps our perceptions of the actual value of said supply.

What can we learn from this? Simple. It is important to place a value on everything – using our own objective criteria – so we know what something is worth despite what external influences may tell us.

Don’t let clever marketing strategies or base emotions dictate how you view the value of something or someone. Your cute but shy co-worker who’s always around could very well be more valuable than that elusive hot blonde you see at the bus stop every day. You don’t need “new” gadgets when the “old” models work just fine. Too many options can be a bad thing despite what consumer culture tells you.

The Scarcity Principle tells us that the dynamics of supply and demand, while it has nothing to do with altering the intrinsic worth of an object, can manipulatively make us place artificial values on objects for no good reason. A slice of pizza from a shopping mall food court isn’t necessarily less delicious than a slice of pizza at a 5-star hotel. It could be, but don’t automatically assume so.

That guy who’s playing “hard to get” isn’t necessarily better “boyfriend material” than the shy fellow who lives next door to you who’s kind, sweet but a tad socially awkward.

So, what does this have to do with female bodybuilders?

Good question!

Female bodybuilders, like fine French wine or a blood red moon, are rare. Period. They aren’t available in everyday life. Millions upon millions of women in our society don’t look like Lora Ottenad or Kasie Cavanaugh. Oh, it would be sweeeeeeeeeeeeeet if that were the case, but sadly it isn’t.

The Scarcity Principle might explain why many men (and women) idolize female bodybuilders to the point of developing an obsession with them. We obsess over them because their rarity grants them God-like divine status in our eyes. We love them for all the traditional reasons (sex appeal, gorgeous bodies, stunning physiques), but we also love them because there’s this thing about them you can’t teach:

Mystique.

Female bodybuilders are mystifying. They pique our curiosity. Their mysteriousness titillates us. Muscular women are like a Rubik’s Cube. No matter how much you try to figure them out, they keep throwing more twists and turns at you to keep you guessing for all eternity. How do they look like that? Why do they want to look like that? What drives them to look like? When a female bodybuilder walks into a room, everyone’s attention instantly focuses on her. Some are aroused. Others are disgusted. A few are confused and conflicted. But the reaction that speaks loudest is this: Reverence.

We revere those whom we are attracted to but feel separated from. Female bodybuilders aren’t normal women. Technically, they’re no different from anybody else, but hot damn! How can you not become obsessed with Cathy LeFrancois or Catherine Holland?

Their ambiance is so captivating. And once you get your first taste of muscular women, you can never go back.

How much reverence do you have for Nicole Ball?

How much reverence do you have for Nicole Ball?

The deification of female bodybuilders is caused by The Scarcity Principle. There’s no other explanation for it. These women are beautiful rare specimens. Like a brilliant diamond sparkling on top of a museum pedestal, we fixate over them because they seem so far away from us. For most of us, a genuinely large female bodybuilder is probably nowhere to be found. I don’t know about you, but FBBs who look like Katka Kyptova aren’t exactly regulars at the Starbucks across from my apartment.

No wonder why many FBBs do “sessions” with their adoring fans. Where else are regular folk going to be able to touch the rock hard muscles of an exquisite muscular woman? Popular session providers can probably make a healthy amount of income (all tax free, no doubt) when all is said and done. One road trip across America, Europe and anywhere else a female bodybuilder decides to embark upon could put a lot of dough in her pocket – even after she takes travel expenses into account.

So there you have it. Now you have a better understanding from a psychological and economic perspective why we love female muscle so much. Their scarcity gives them power. Their uncommonness (yes, that’s actually a word) gives them the ultimate bargaining chip.

Female bodybuilders aren’t like ice cream flavors at Baskin-Robbins or used bicycles on Craigslist. Female bodybuilders are like The Holy Grail from the Arthurian legend.

A divine object that can make men go mad with obsession. Men will kill each other just to have it. She holds all the power. We commoners are powerless to resist.

Not that we’d want to resist, of course!

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Sthenolagnia vs. Cratolagnia – Which Best Describes Me?

What about Yaxeni Oriquen turns you on? Gee, where do I start?

What about Yaxeni Oriquen turns you on? Gee, where do I start?

Here are two vocabulary words most people in the general population have never heard before: Sthenolagnia and Cratolagnia.

Don’t even ask me how to pronounce either word. Consult an online dictionary instead. Or just take a wild guess. Whichever works for you!

I’ll admit that I never heard of these words before I became an official female muscle fan. So if you consider yourself an admirer of muscular human beings of the feminine persuasion, allow yourself the opportunity to improve your vernacular.

Sthenolagnia is defined as the “sexual arousal from displaying strength or muscles” while cratolagnia is “sexual arousal from strength.” Anyone who thinks muscles are sexy should be able to identify with one of or both of these concepts.

So what’s the difference, exactly? Good question.

People who are attracted to large muscles (regardless of the gender of the person displaying these muscles) aren’t necessarily attracted to the same thing or for the same reasons. Human sexuality is very diverse and difficult to put into neat boxes. This is why we must have honest discussions about what we like and why we like what we like.

Often, sthenolagnia and cratolagnia could be considered interchangeable when discussing muscle fetishism. But that is not the case. Being attracted to muscles and being attracted to displays of strength – while definitely related – are not necessarily the same thing. Here is a brief breakdown of how these kinks are different.

Muscles as an Accessory vs. Strength as an Action

Someone who likes a person with big muscles is attracted to the way they look. The shape of their bodies is very arousing and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

For example, someone can love the way Alina Popa’s body looks without ever having to see her bend steel or pick up a person and carry them around. Her musculature, symmetry, awe-inspiring definition and good-old-fashioned sexiness (she is a very beautiful woman regardless of her physique) are enough to make many men consider her attractive.

The stereotype that men are visual creatures may play a role in this. Sexual attraction develops from what the eye can see. A beautiful woman can make a man turn his head, stare at her as she walks by and subsequently run into a telephone pole.

The same goes for an aesthetically gorgeous muscle woman. Debi Laszewski would make many men turn their heads if they saw her walk by. Especially if she’s wearing a tight dress that generously shows off her muscular curves and high heels and allows her legs to shine! Expect many fender benders if she traversed her way across a busy crosswalk.

If Brigita Brezovac walked down a busy street, there would be plenty of auto accidents.

If Brigita Brezovac walked down a busy street, there would be plenty of auto accidents.

On the other hand, someone who is attracted to big muscles may get turned on by seeing how this person uses their big muscles. After all, what’s the point of having superhuman strength if you never use it? You don’t work that hard just to sit around and not utilize your gifts.

Some men fantasize about a strong Amazonian woman picking them up, carrying them around and demonstrating her physical dominance. Whether you get turned on by having your inferiority complex put to the test or because you love feeling helpless in the hands of someone who’s supposedly a member of the “weaker sex,” witnessing (and experiencing) a woman displaying her strength is what it’s all about for you. Power is sexy. Feeling helpless can also be sexy. For men who agree with these premises, watching a female bodybuilder show off her amazing strength could very well be their personal definition of “Heaven.”

You might equally be turned on by a woman displaying strength who doesn’t physically appear to be strong. A slender woman dressed as a dominatrix or a corporate boss comes to mind. Strength doesn’t just mean muscles. It also means mental, emotional and sexual strength. So, one could theoretically experience cratolagnia with a non-bodybuilder. All you need is a female (or male) who isn’t afraid to flaunt his or her dominance and an appreciative audience to enjoy the spectacle.

Social Taboos at Play

There are also certain social taboos that explain why people experience sthenolagnia and cratolagnia.

Let’s consider the concept of women being the “weaker sex.” If we accept the premise that, generally speaking, women are biologically weaker to men, we should also acknowledge that examples contrary to this would be considered out of the ordinary. Also, things that are not ordinary are usually found either revolting or highly intriguing to people.

We are intrigued by what is not usual. Social taboos exist because there are certain social phenomena that elicit strong emotional responses from people. These responses could be disgust, anger, annoyance, confusion and often times, arousal. So, consider the taboos a female bodybuilder presents:

Her body shape doesn’t conform to our traditional standards of femininity.

Her physical strength goes contrary to what we know about basic human biology.

Her large physical stature contradicts our common conceptions about male vs. female gender roles.

Her open willingness to display her muscles and strength is unusual for most women’s behavior.

Her muscular physique places her in a role usually occupied by a man.

Her strength breaks down barriers that customarily separate men and women.

Some of us get turned on by defiance. Defiance gives us power. It’s our way of rebelling against whatever social constructs we oppose. If it’s true that “power is the ultimate aphrodisiac,” then people get turned on by a female bodybuilder’s muscles because they love the power being demonstrated by her in such an open fashion.

Not only is she physically powerful, but she’s mentally and emotionally powerful. Her self-confidence, limitless work ethic, remarkable self-discipline and indifference toward her “haters” are attractive. If she’s willing to rebel against gender stereotypes, human physiology and mass media messages, what isn’t she willing to do?

Think muscles on a woman isn't sexy? Take a look at Alicia Alfaro and prepare to have your mind blown.

Think muscles on a woman isn’t sexy? Take a look at Alicia Alfaro and prepare to have your mind blown.

There are many men who are secretly tired of always being in control. They’re sick of being counted on to be the “strong one.” They’d rather someone else do the proverbial heavy lifting. That’s why many powerful men prefer to be the “sub” in a D/s-BDSM roleplaying scenario. For once they want a woman to be in charge. He wants to relinquish power for the time being. Being weak turns him on. Seeing the woman become powerful also turns him on.

And all of this is still very taboo.

The Brain is the Ultimate Sex Organ

Essentially, this discussion boils down to this truth: female bodybuilders are both physically and intellectually beautiful. Their physical beauty comes in their perfectly sculpted bodies that we see at the gym, on the streets, at bodybuilding contests and on the Internet. A female bodybuilder’s physical beauty, while not universally acknowledged, is a force to be reckoned with.

Also, a female bodybuilder can also be intellectually beautiful. Her willingness to break social taboos, rebel against certain cultural standards and march to the beat of her own drum is very arousing to many of us. The brain is the ultimate sex organ, right?

Strength, therefore, comes in two forms: physical strength and intellectual strength. Physical strength is self-explanatory. Intellectual strength is something else entirely. It takes someone who understands what hurdles someone has to go through and appreciates their accomplishments. A female muscle fan gets it. They understand how insanely difficult it is for a woman to “look like that.”

Betty Viana wants you to come to bed.

Betty Viana wants you to come to bed.

Anyone who openly defies society and lives a lifestyle that’s so foreign to most people is as tough-minded as they get. And bulking up isn’t easy for women. Not nearly as easy as it is for men (and for many men, it’s still not easy!). So to understand the sacrifices and hard work necessary to transform from a normal-looking woman to Yaxeni Oriquen gives you an intellectual erection.

You have permission to use “intellectual erection” all you want. It’s on the house.

So…Which Best Describes Me?

To answer this question, consider all the reasons why you find female bodybuilders (and athletes) to be so captivating. Is it purely physical? If so, physical in terms of aesthetic or action? Or is there a sociological explanation as well?

Generally speaking, it’s probably safe to say that you might be experiencing sthenolagnia if your attraction to FBBs is purely due to your love for their hard, beautiful muscles. Their socially taboo bodies make you go crazy. Watching them use their muscles in a practical way is a bonus, but not a must. Simply put, YOU LOVE HER MUSCLES.

If your love for female muscle goes beyond that, then you might be in the cratolagnia category. It’s not enough to look at their gorgeous physiques. You want to see their strength in action. You love their hard-earned bodies and defiant attitude toward society’s narrow definition of beauty. You appreciate their accomplishments both from a physical and intellectual standpoint. Simply put, YOU LOVE HOW STRONG SHE IS.

This goes to show that not everyone is attracted to female muscle for the same reason. It’s not just because of muscles, muscles, muscles and more muscles. Yes, muscles on a woman are very sexy, but so is her brute strength, dedication to her craft and eagerness to live her life to the fullest.

Nuriye Evans, an undisputed Muscle Goddess if there ever was one.

Nuriye Evans, an undisputed Muscle Goddess if there ever was one.

Muscles and strength can mean two different things to different people. Anyone who knows even a little bit about the bodybuilding lifestyle knows how difficult and grueling it is. It’s a cutthroat business. The dieting, lifting, supplementation and scientific approach to reorganizing your life’s schedule can be exhausting – especially if one is pursuing bodybuilding as a profession.

Sthenolagnia and Cratolagnia.

Two words you probably can’t pronounce. Two words you certainly did not grow up learning about.

But now you know a little more about this glorious world of female muscle, female muscle fandom and the reasons why we love our buff, strong and powerful ladies. It truly is a mesmerizing world once you jump in head first.

So immerse yourself into it as fully as you can. You never know…you just might find yourself using these two words in everyday conversation!