Expectations vs. Reality: Tempering Our Warped Perceptions about Female Bodybuilders

A very tiny red bikini being worn by Gina Aliotti.

A very tiny red bikini being worn by Gina Aliotti.

Sometimes, our expectations don’t meet reality.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; nor is it necessarily a good thing. It is what it is. At first, the idea of owning a puppy may sound awesome. But after you adopt one, reality starts to sink in. You have to train him not to poop on the carpet. You have to persuade him not to beg at the dinner table. You have to clean up after every single mess he makes. You need to schedule your entire life around feeding him, walking him, and making sure he is allowed to “relieve himself” as often as he needs to in a socially acceptable way.

In short, the honeymoon soon ends. The joyful expectation of owning a puppy dog – while you may still love being a pet owner – may or may not fully line up with the reality of actually owning a puppy.

The image in your head of your dog being your best buddy who also happens to be low-maintenance, intuitively housebroken, and allows you to live your life as usual with very little disruptions is, as you quickly discover, total BS. Raising a puppy dog is a lot harder than you think. I’m not anti-dog or anything (although I am more of a cat person), all I’m trying to do is illustrate the disconnection that often exists between how we think life is like and how life is really like.

The same goes for female bodybuilders. People who are fascinated with female bodybuilders, but have never actually met one, may be in for a surprise when they first get the chance to encounter one up-close-and-personal. There might be some disappointment…but there might also be some surprises, both positive and negative.

I’ve written before on the ethereal nature of female bodybuilders. We often refer to them as “goddesses” because we revere them as if they were divine beings from Heaven. In non-female bodybuilding parlance, a young lady we’re smitten with is often called an “angel.” If she isn’t in charge of what goes on in Heaven, she’s at least sent there from the Big Guy himself down to Earth to capture the hearts of young men. The point is when we put certain people on a pedestal, our perceptions of them become inflated, warped, and unrealistic.

This is known as “idealizing the other.” This especially happens when we have limited (or nonexistent) contact with this person. Whether we’re talking about our favorite pop singer, baseball player, middle school crush, or pro female bodybuilder, we tend to place idealistic expectations on who they are as people (or lovers, best friends, crushes, idols, etc.) that don’t necessarily fit reality.

May I meet Amy Peters for an intimate evening?

May I meet Amy Peters for an intimate evening?

So don’t get too heartbroken when your favorite ball player won’t give you his autograph. Don’t be too surprised when your favorite politician gets involved in a scandal. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that cute guy or girl you like can do no wrong and is perfect in every way. They are just as human as you are. We all have flaws. For the rich and famous, they have armies of publicists, assistants, public relations personnel, hair and make-up artists, wardrobe consultants, and the like to help present them in the best light possible.

Do you really think your favorite singer has hair that looks that good 24/7? I got news for you. They don’t!

Somewhat related to celebrity worship and idealizing the other is the heightened expectations we have about female bodybuilders. Due to the fact muscular women are rare in our world (unfortunately for us!), we tend to develop in our imaginations a perceived set of expectations for what FBBs are like that may or may not be accurate. Examples of questions we have about female bodybuilders include, but are not limited to:

  • How much can an FBB lift?
  • How tall are female bodybuilders?
  • Do all FBBs have big clits?
  • Do female bodybuilders want to dominate men sexually?
  • What do their genitals look like?

The answers to these questions – and countless others – obviously are not definitive and set in stone. Some FBBs are stronger than others. Many have big clits, but many also have perfectly normal sized clits. Some FBBs are sexually aggressive, others are more passive. Many are lesbians and have no interest in having sex with a man. Female genitalia, whether we’re talking about a muscular woman or a non-muscular woman, comes in all shapes and sizes. That’s just the way things are.

But instead of endlessly speculating on these matters, we end up creating conclusions regardless. I’m guilty of this as well. We take it for granted that FBBs are tall, sexually aggressive, super strong, and are endowed with large clitorises. At least, that’s our expectation. In the back of our minds we may know these assumptions aren’t always true. But we can’t help but think of these conclusions as being more or less the truth.

I love Mindi O'Brien!

I love Mindi O’Brien!

So let’s pretend like you actually end up meeting a female bodybuilder for a muscle worship or wrestling session. You see that someone you admire is travelling to your city and you e-mail her to set up an appointment. You pay your deposit, agree upon the terms of the meeting, and she informs you where she’ll be staying for the duration of her visit. Great! Now what?

You wait. You cross off the days on the calendar in anticipation of your fateful meeting with her. Your imagination goes wild. What will she be like? Will she be as big and strong as she is in my dreams? Will she immediately toss me on the bed and have her way with me without letting up? Will I be sore for the rest of the week as a result of our short hour together?

Then, the day comes. You can’t wait! You struggle to focus on anything but your appointment with her. Butterflies are bouncing wildly all around your stomach. Your heartbeat cannot calm down. You’re afraid you might suffer from cardiac arrest before your appointment even begins.

You sit in the parking lot of her hotel for 10 or so minutes. Finally, you text her and she tells you which room she is staying in. You nonchalantly walk out of your car, stroll into the hotel lobby as if you were a guest, and try to not make eye contact with any of the staff or patrons. You coolly walk up the stairs or ride the elevator. Finally, you’re face-to-face with her door. You knock. You wait. Seconds seems like minutes. Minutes seem like hours.

At last, the door opens!

You hold your breath in anticipation of what she’ll look like. What will the moment be like when you first get to lay eyes on her magnificent body? You then take a deep breath and look directly at her.

Um, oh.

She’s short. Perhaps several inches shorter than you. She’s pretty, but not as pretty as a supermodel. Her hair is unkempt. She has noticeable but not distractingly foul body odor. She’s muscular, but not as huge as you thought she’d be. Is she ripped? Well, sort of. She’s in excellent shape, but her figure doesn’t make my eyeballs pop out of their sockets. But most of all, you still cannot believe how short she is! Even with heels, she doesn’t come close to breaking six feet tall. What’s with that?

As the evening progresses, you have fun doing what you want to do. You get to touch her muscles. You get to playfully wrestle with her on the bed. You may even get a hand job from her at the conclusion of your appointment. All in all, the evening was a blast, but it wasn’t life altering.

Your perspective on life did not change. She was pleasant and awesome to be around, but she didn’t exactly cast a magical spell on you. She was cute, but your high school girlfriend was way cuter.

You come away from your appointment not totally disappointed, but slightly dissatisfied. You struggle to pinpoint why. The evening went exactly as planned. She delivered on all her promises. She’s a friendly lady who’s chill, down-to-earth, and can maintain an interesting conversation. What gives?

Shawna Walker showing off her hard work.

Shawna Walker showing off her hard work.

As time goes on, you realize the problem isn’t her. The problem is you. She did nothing wrong. She’s a beautiful muscular woman who’s trying to make a living doing what she loves to do. Your feelings of being let down isn’t her fault. It’s your fault. You were the one who built up unrealistic expectations in the first place. You constructed an image in your head that could never live up to its hype. Oh well. Live and learn, right?

Yup. That’s the way it goes in life. Live and learn. That’s all you can do.

Without question, female bodybuilders conjure up in our imaginations all sorts of wild thoughts, feelings, and fantasies. After all, since muscular women are rare in our world, all we have is our imaginations. And the human mind has a funny way of creating perceptions out of thin air that are based on nothing more than stereotypes, rumors, and hopes.

In our dreams, we concoct visions of what female bodybuilders are actually like. They’re superhuman, larger-than-life, and the most beautiful and flawless creatures on planet Earth. While FBBs are certainly gorgeous in their own unique ways, they’re not superhuman, larger-than-life, or flawless. They’re people just like you and I. They have good days and bad days, just like us. They have moments when they smell bad, just like us. They’re strong but not supernaturally strong, just like us (at least those of us who make an effort to get stronger).

In the back of our minds, we all know this. We know celebrities are flawed human beings just like the rest of us. Yet, we somehow get surprised or react intensely whenever they accidentally trip over themselves on the red carpet or say something offensive on Twitter. I mean, what were you expecting?

Those of us who ever get the chance to meet in-person a muscular woman may be in for a few surprises – however you define “surprises.” Whether those surprises are positive or negative often depend on what your initial expectations were to begin with. If you’ve elevated muscular women to a level of goddess-like divinity, then you’re going to be in for a disappointing shock. If your expectations are much more modest, then you might actually be in for a few pleasant surprises. How do you like them apples?

Returning to the analogy of adopting a puppy, even being an experienced pet owner may not totally prepare you for the full gamut of what it’s like to own a living and breathing animal. Perhaps your family owned a dog when you were a kid, but your parents did most of the work walking it, feeding it, and cleaning up after it. For sure Mom and Dad were the ones who bought the dog food. If you’re a broke recent college graduate, the cost of buying pet food can be taxing considering you can barely afford to feed yourself. Suddenly, your childhood memories of being a “dog owner” don’t actually prepare you for being a dog owner as an adult. Experience matters, but it all depends on the depth of your experience.

Likewise, watching endless videos and looking at thousands of photos of female bodybuilders – which should describe almost all of us! – will not necessarily prepare you for what it’s like to actually meet a female bodybuilder in the flesh. Like any form of media, photos and videos do not paint a complete picture. Clever lighting, PhotoShop, and creative editing can hide or enhance many things. Don’t get me wrong – female bodybuilders are certainly gorgeous when you meet them up-close-and-personal – but don’t expect them to be as flawless as your imaginations may recklessly hype you up to believe.

Speaking of short, did you know Tera Guzman is 4' 11"?

Speaking of short, did you know Tera Guzman is 4′ 11″?

The human mind has a funny (or tragic) way of playing games with us when it comes to our perceptions of the world. Because we cannot possibly experience and fully understand everything, we are forced to compartmentalize our perceptions into easy-to-digest bits of information. Examples of this are too many, but suffice to say the way we think about female bodybuilders definitely fits into this paradigm.

Some of us will never meet a female bodybuilder. Many of us will, but not for very long. Most of us will encounter athletic-looking women in our everyday lives, but rarely have the chance to get all our questions about them answered. Do you really want to ask a random stranger at the gym who’s just gotten done doing bicep curls what her clit looks like? That’s a good way to get kicked in the groin, if you catch my drift!

Indeed, our expectations don’t always meet reality. But the valuable lesson to be learned isn’t that this is always a bad thing or a negative reflection upon female bodybuilders themselves. Often, it’s a product of our own wild imaginations taking us to strange and magical places. Or it’s because we seldom are able to actually see female bodybuilders up close, so we don’t quite know what to expect. Or, it’s a byproduct of the nature of female bodybuilders as a whole:

They’re peculiar, thought-provoking, mysterious, and gloriously enigmatic creatures who summon in our feeble minds some of the most outlandish and irrational beliefs imaginable. Therefore, it is a struggle and our responsibility to dial back these perceptions out of respect to these incredible women.

Yeah, that’s probably more like it.

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