Beauty is Overrated

Stephanie Marie definitely isn’t overrated.

“Beauty,” as it is traditionally defined, makes no mention of emotions, feelings, or involuntary intuitive reactions. Yet, the concept of beauty – especially the way we use it in everyday conversation – goes way beyond aesthetics.

For example:

Merriam-Webster’s definition of beauty is “the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.”

“Gives pleasure to the senses” is a great way of phrasing it. There are, after all, five senses – with sight being just one of them. One can appreciate a rose bush by admiring its beauty, then leaning over and smelling its scent. But you probably wouldn’t want to eat it. And roses don’t make any noise, so there’s nothing to hear. And be careful before you touch it! Those thorns can be prickly.

So one can admire a beautiful thing with more than just one sense. Two or three, perhaps. But there’s another sense that is almost never acknowledged. A sense that is, if you think about it, arguably more important:

The emotional sense.

The sight of a beautiful person can make you feel many things. Lust, longing, exasperation, infatuation, nervousness, giddiness, curiosity, etc. Perhaps the reason why a beautiful person has such power over us isn’t just because of how they look – it’s how they make us feel.

Coco Crush is so damn beautiful.

And this has less to do with who they are and more to do with who we are. Or what we’ve gone through, or what we’ve experienced, or what we’re currently dealing with in our personal lives. For example, you could be minding your own business at the grocery store. You just need to pick up a few items – green peppers, celery, a red onion, and a few quarts of beef stock – for tonight’s dinner. You should be in and out in a hot minute. Suddenly, out of nowhere you see a gorgeous young lady perusing through the salad greens section looking for fresh spinach that isn’t too soggy. She’s beautiful. The most beautiful person you’ve seen in a while. The way she walks, moves, and behaves is like poetry in motion. But you’re not just captivated by her immense beauty. You’re reminded of your high school crush, the one who “got away.” You’re reminded of your own loneliness and your burning need for someone to cuddle with tonight when you’re watching late night TV. You’re reminded of how special this planet can be at times, when a flawless work of art can literally appear out of nowhere unexpectedly and make your heart stop beating.

You know she’s physically beautiful, yet she’s more than that. She makes you feel things. Strong things. Things you wish you could forget. Things you wish you could capture in a bottle and uncork whenever you want to. Things you cannot explain, but you know in your heart is as real as a rainstorm. In other words, “beauty” isn’t just an aesthetic. It’s an experience.

This helps explain why many of us love female bodybuilders so much. We aren’t just attracted to their muscles, curves, strength, confidence, and inspiring stories. We love them because they make us react in ways that are both predictable and inexplicable. We love them because we cannot stop loving them. They’re an unquenchable thirst. A hunger that never ceases.

We can look at a picture of Cindy Landolt and notice many things. Her face is pretty and her muscles are poetic, but her appeal goes way beyond those things. We sense raw energy radiating out of every pore of her immaculate body. It’s almost visible. It’s nearly tangible. To look upon her is to feel like you’re in the presence of a Divine Being. She’s often labeled a “Goddess” by her fans (myself included) and for good reason. She looks too good to be true. The fact she actually is a real-life human being adds to her mystique. How can someone be that beautiful? It’s difficult to wrap our minds around this reality. Yet it’s true. Cindy makes our minds rattle in a million different directions. And it’s not just because of her obvious beauty.

It’s because of her – and many other female bodybuilders – effect on our psyches.

Amanda Ferre looking absolutely gorgeous.

Female bodybuilders are alluring for reasons that go beyond what you can see on the outside. It’s not just their unusually large muscles that capture our attention. When we regard upon a beautiful female bodybuilder, our daydreaming activities go into overdrive. We want her to pick us up and toss us to the ground like a ragdoll. We desire to touch her muscles. We want to ask her to flex her biceps while we measure them with a sewing tape measure. How big is she? When she flexes at maximum capacity, how large can she grow? 16 inches? 18 inches?

Uh, 20 inches?

Is that even possible? Has any woman in the history of the world ever developed biceps that exceeded 20 inches? Maybe, but I’m yet to have seen it. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened before, of course. Renné Toney supposedly holds the record at 21 inches. I highly doubt too many other women have been able to match that, let alone exceed it.

God damn. The very thought of a woman having 21-inch biceps is mind boggling. It’s inconceivable. It’s beyond belief. Yet, she did at one point in her life attain such a measurement. Guys who are insecure or full of self-loathing will immediately scream at the top of their lungs “Steroids, steroids, steroids!” But those of us who respect female bodybuilders and don’t hate ourselves will instead react with “You go girl!”

See the difference?

The same could be said for Tina Lockwood’s thighs. Or Becca Swanson’s career achievements. Or Nataliya Kuznetsova’s entire existence. Or what Shannon Courtney was able to do at such an early age. These ladies defy our expectations of what the female human body is capable of doing. In their own way, they’ve set the bar higher and higher than any of us (or most of us) thought was even possible. To react with derision is unfortunate. It probably says more about the person choosing to think that way more than anything else. But thankfully, for every troll who types mean comments like “She’s probably got a dick” or “She’s actually a man” on a random YouTube video, there are thousands of other people who treat these women with the respect they deserve.

Isabelle Turell makes me react quite irrationally.

How funny it is that female bodybuilders can make us react in such two completely opposite ways. We react with either scorn or praise. Disgust or lust. Hatred or eternal adoration. Dismissiveness or uncontrollable fandom. There’s basically no middle ground. At all. It’s truly a fascinating phenomenon to witness.

This is why “beauty is overrated.” We value beauty because it’s obvious. It’s plain to see. It’s simple to explain. It doesn’t require any thinking. It’s all around us all the time. You don’t need to travel far to see a billboard, television commercial, print advertisement, or pop-up window that features a beautiful person – male or female. It’s deeply engrained into our multimedia landscape. Sex sells, as the adage goes. Heck, it’s so pervasive it’s easy to not notice it.

Yet, beauty unto itself is fairly limited. A pretty face can be forgettable. A shapely body you see in a magazine may draw your attention momentarily, but it’ll fade off into the distance once something else replaces it. The smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies? The sound of your favorite song playing over the PA system? The feeling of cool air cascading off your face on a sweltering hot summer day? All of those things can replace the memory of a beautiful magazine cover model because she’s a dime a dozen (no offense to her). Her beauty is considerable, but it’s not enough. We want to feel something. A connection. A memory. An involuntary reaction.

A nameless Victoria’s Secret underwear model cannot compete with Isabelle Turell or Lindsay Mulinazzi. The nameless model looks nice but doesn’t elicit any emotional reaction out of us. We notice their beauty and move on with our lives. Isabelle and Lindsay, on the other hand, make us want to beg for their attention. Get down on our knees and worship them. Shell out hundreds of dollars in cash to purchase their merchandise. Praise them as queens or goddesses. Use hyperbolic language when describing them. Travel to the furthest ends of the earth just to meet them for a single hour. Stay up late watching videos of them when we have to go to work the next day. Do things we normally wouldn’t do like set up a muscle worship appointment or fantasy wrestling session – all in secret, naturally.

Beauty in complete isolation is neat. But it does not give us a complete picture of the situation. Some people – and this includes non-bodybuilders – have a pull on us that almost seems magical. Remember your grade school crush? I sure do. I still think about her. I recently stalked her on Facebook and saw that she’s happily married with a newborn child. She’s kind of pretty, but not nearly as drop dead gorgeous as I thought of her at the time. In this case, distance and time did not make the heart grow fonder. Quite the opposite. But I clearly remember being 12 years old and not being able to keep my eyes off her. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. She was sweet, smart, nice, and good looking. I was enchanted with her.

We all have similar stories we can tell. Many of us have current stories in similar vein that we can tell. Crushes are exactly that: they crush us. They shatter our ability to think rationally. They stomp all over our sense of self-preservation and force us to act foolishly. We are enthralled by them, taken in by them, infatuated with them. It’s strong. It’s focused. It’s nearly unbreakable.

And when it does break, it tears our hearts in half.

Do you know what this ultimately means? It means beauty is not just overrated, but somewhat misunderstood. We give pure physical beauty more credit than it deserves. It can initially capture our attention, but it’s not enough to keep us tuned in. We need more if we want to continue to be playing the game. We need an emotional bond. A cathartic connection. A spiritual awakening. We need our heartstrings tugged at in addition to blood flowing to our private parts. This isn’t just explained by love or lust. It’s something else. Something…less tangible.

Now, comparing your schoolyard crush to your adult fascination with female bodybuilders is not completely analogous. They are two different things. Yet, the general idea remains the same. They both have us in the palm of their hands. They control the situation, not us. They have the power. All the power. It’s not even close. It’s more than a magic spell. It’s more mysterious than a love potion because this is completely organic. It’s natural. No special sauce is needed.

What kind of beauty is unforgettable to you?

Go back to the beginning of this article and reread Merriam-Webster’s definition of “beauty.” Notice the word “spirit” at the very end. That’s significant. Do not trivialize this. To “pleasurably exalt the spirit” is quite a turn of phrase. It seems to connotate a religious awakening; a divine experience that transcends the mortal body. This is why we tend to use ethereal language when describing female bodybuilders. It’s just like a religious experience. A conversion. A death and resurrection all happening at once.

Beauty is overrated because it places too much emphasis on the person who is being described as beautiful. This isn’t a knock against them, but rather an observation that what really matters is the person experiencing the beauty. What are they thinking? Hoping? Dreaming about? Fearful of? Wishing would happen with all their might?

The fact I’ve been writing about female bodybuilders and female muscle fetishism for seven years now – yes, it’s been that long – is proof that FBBs have a profound grip on me. It’s everlasting. Sure, sometimes it wanes for a bit, but it never goes away. I don’t think that’s even possible.

FBBs are important to me and will continue to be a massive part of my life. The same is probably true for many of you too. And the reason this is true isn’t just because FBBs are physically beautiful creatures. It’s because they have the keen ability to draw out wild thoughts and fantasies from us. They make us act irrationally. They cannot leave our imaginations. They’re living rent free in our heads – and we are grateful landlords who refuse to ask for back payments.

Because it’s not just about how beautiful they are. It’s how beautiful we make them out to be.

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All Hail Queen Alina

Bow down and worship Alina Popa!

Alina Popa is the GOAT.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the lingo the kids are using these days, “GOAT” is not an insult. It’s not what Charlie Brown feared he would be if he were to give up the losing run at the end of his playground baseball game. It’s not an animal. It’s not one of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs. No. GOAT stands for Greatest of All Time. It’s the highest compliment one can bestow upon a person. It’s a high honor.

Miss Popa is the GOAT. Or a GOAT. Or one of the GOATs. Or in the top 5. Or top 10. We can’t all agree where she ranks among the greatest female bodybuilders in the history of the sport, but for the time being most of us should be able to recognize that Alina is one the best of the best of the best of the best.

For many reasons, Alina has captured our hearts and imaginations. She’s beloved. She boasts near universal adoration. Everyone loves and respects her. If you were to take a straw poll of one thousand female muscle fans worldwide and ask them who their favorite FBB currently is, I’d wager a guess that more than 80% would have Alina somewhere in their top 5. If she’s not in their top 10, then they’ve lost all credibility as far as I’m concerned. If they’ve never even heard of her, then I don’t know if it’s fair to call them a female muscle fan in the first place.

Alina’s appeal is fascinating to break down. She doesn’t have the crossover appeal of Cindy Landolt, yet she’s probably more beloved than she is. Alina doesn’t participate in sexually explicit pornography like Denise Masino or Brandi Mae Akers, yet she’s still considered unbelievably sexy. She isn’t as prominent on social media as Lauren Drain, but Alina is heads and shoulders more popular than Miss Drain will ever be. That isn’t to insult Miss Landolt, Miss Masino, Miss Akers, or Miss Drain – but rather to point out the impressiveness of Miss Popa’s popularity.

But it isn’t just about popularity. It’s emotional appeal. Alina makes us feel things. Intense things. Intense thoughts, feelings, and fantasies. One does not simply look at a picture of Alina flexing her large muscles and not experience a rise in blood pressure. Unless one is already in a vegetative state. Heck, looking at Alina’s body of work may very well put you in a vegetative state. And you probably wouldn’t complain too loudly when that happens.

She is a unique lady. She’s a one-of-a-kind. Her appeal is both obvious and not obvious at the same time. Alina is the GOAT, but she’s more than that. She’s a queen. No, rather she’s THE Queen. The Queen of Female Bodybuilding.

Alina Popa was born on October 12, 1978 in Brăila, Romania. Like many female bodybuilders, she led a fairly active lifestyle, having competed in track and field sports since she was 12 years old. In her late teens and early 20s, Alina became a regular gymgoer and started to do what guys always do at the gym but some ladies are reluctant to: lift weights.

In 2000, she placed 2nd in a local regional contest, which probably boosted her confidence and gave her the “hunger” to compete in more. That obviously set off a firestorm. The rest of her impressive résumé is as follows:

  • 2000 IFBB National Championship – 3rd (HW)
  • 2003 IFBB National Championship – 1st (MW)
  • 2004 IFBB European Championship – 2nd (HW)
  • 2005 Mixed Pairs European Championship – 2nd
  • 2005 Women’s European Championship – 5th
  • 2006 Grand Prix Due Torri – 1st
  • 2007 NABBA Miss Universe – 1st (Miss Physique class)
  • 2008 IFBB Worlds Santa Susanna – 1st (Overall and HW)
  • 2010 IFBB Ms. International – 8th
  • 2011 IFBB Ms. International – 3rd
  • 2011 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 5th
  • 2012 IFBB Ms. International – 3rd
  • 2012 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 4th
  • 2013 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 2nd
  • 2014 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 2nd
  • 2016 WOS Rising Phoenix World Championships – 3rd
  • 2018 IFBB Muscle Vodka Tampa Pro – 1st
  • 2018 Rising Phoenix World Championships – 1st

There’s no need to rehash the controversy in 2014 when Alina placed 2nd to Iris Kyle in the final Ms. Olympia contest. Alina placed 2nd the previous year and every prognosticator thought this would be the year the seemingly unstoppable Miss Kyle would be unseated. Alas, that did not happen. Iris won her 17th overall IFBB professional title, an eyepopping achievement that deserves considerable recognition. But in the hearts and minds of FBB fans everywhere, Alina deserved to place 1st at least once while the Ms. Olympia still existed. She may not have persuaded enough judges to earn that crown, but she’s definitely earned our awe and admiration. We understand that one’s accomplishments are not always defined by others.

So as far as professional competitions go, Alina may not technically be the GOAT, but she’s nevertheless one of the greatest to ever have stepped onto the stage. But for those of us who don’t need external validation for the things we love, we can live with that. Others who crave that validation are probably still bitter to this day.

Alina is a Queen because she’s everything you could possibly ask for in a female bodybuilder. She has it all: Brains, beauty, brawn, charm, and grace. She’s beautiful, yet approachable. She’s accomplished, yet humble. She’s tough, yet kind. She’s relentless, yet grounded. She’s glamourous, yet authentic. She’s strong, yet compassionate. She’s muscular, yet still unquestionably feminine. She’s big, yet curvy. She’s confident, yet amicable. She’s a woman, yet she doesn’t let her gender define her.

Her body is flawless. Some may have been disappointed when she decided to get breast implants, but that is neither here nor there. She can choose to enhance herself if it makes her happy. Alina has achieved the near impossible: She appeals to female muscle fans across the entire spectrum. She appeases those who love big, big, big muscles. She also appeases the folks on the other side of the aisle who value traditional femininity and are turned off by FBBs who exhibit too many “masculine” qualities. There’s nothing masculine about Miss Popa. She’s as feminine as can be.

When the sport of female bodybuilding rose to prominence in the 1970s, there was a stigma attached to women who were so bulky it (supposedly) compromised their “femininity.” As a result, many female competitors intentionally chose to not get too big out of fear it would damage their ability to win contests. That’s bad news. So praising Alina’s uncanny ability to perfectly balance femininity and muscularity is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s the reason why she’s so beloved by female muscle fans around the world. On the other hand, it feeds into the perception that female bodybuilders are somehow obligated to also look feminine because not looking sufficiently feminine can be detrimental to their success.

Hm. This is an awkward place to be. It’s discouraging to praise ladies like Alina, Cindy, and Minna Pajulahti for their femininity and strength because – even if it’s implicitly implied – it reinforces the belief that women who are not like them are somehow inferior. Jennifer Kennedy and Kathy Connors are not inferior. They’re also awesome and deserving of respect. They may not get the same universal adoration as the previous group, but they are still worthy of our undying love. It’s much easier to defend Cindy Landolt than it is Miss Kennedy, a fact that begrudgingly acknowledges the reality that traditional femininity still matters to a great deal of people.

FBBs like Miss Kennedy have deep voices, masculine-looking faces, and a “roughness” about them that makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable. One cannot deny that, even though one can also argue that these features do not chip away at her identity as a strong sexy woman. Alina’s presence is a breath of fresh air because she checks every box a female muscle fan could ask for, in addition to not having to carry much of the baggage typically associated with muscular women.

There isn’t a whole lot you can criticize about Alina. But we think of her as a Queen not just because of her crossover appeal, flawless beauty, perfect balance between muscularity and femininity, and considerable professional accomplishments. She’s earned her Queen Status because she makes us feel things very few other women – muscular or not – can also conjure up.

One of her most famous talents is the ability to isolate her muscles and bounce them on command. It makes us swoon faster than a pack of teen girls at an Elvis concert circa 1956. She can wiggle her glutes, bounce her pecs, and make her quads dance as if it were a cast member of Soul Train. Her muscle control is a sight to behold. It takes your breath away. Your eyes are peeled to the screen as you watch her show off her skills. It’s a shocking reminder of how in control she is of her body. She doesn’t just spend hours a day at the gym building her body – she owns her body. It doesn’t own her. She knows her physical self better than most of us think is even possible. That’s quite an accomplishment.

Watching Alina control her muscles – and knowing that we can never do that no matter how hard we try – makes us appreciate her that much more. She’s a Queen because she controls her domain with an iron fist. She’s a Queen because she doesn’t let anybody stand in her way. She’s a Queen because she does what she wants, looks the way she wants, and pursues her dreams with reckless abandon.

For the longest time Alina chose not to get breast implants. Then, she went under the knife in 2017 and looks great as a result. Does she look better? Yeah, but once again this is a tricky area. That isn’t to imply that she looked inferior before. She looked stunning before surgery and she still looks stunning today. Personally, I am not super picky about whether or not an FBB chooses to get breast implants. I love strong flat chested beauties as much as I love strong enhanced beauties. Fans may bicker and argue amongst themselves, but you’ll find no quarrel with me.

Whenever I scroll through photos and videos of Miss Popa I’m reminded of the famous quote from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet when Romeo remarks “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.” Likewise, before Alina, true beauty did not exist. You’ve never actually seen a truly breathtaking woman until you witnessed Alina in action. Watching her strut toward the camera, flex her quads, and give the viewer a sweet but naughty smile is enough to give us cardiac arrest. But more than that, it’s sort of like a spiritual experience. Your brain realizes it’s seeing something that’s different from what it’s seen before. It’s difficult to explain, but universally understood by those who’ve experienced it.

Watching Alina is like being touched by the hand of divinity. You notice every muscle fiber, every curve, every fine detail of her immaculate body and wonder how a human being could possibly look that way. It’s as though every “traditionally beautiful” woman you’ve ever seen don’t matter anymore. Like Romeo, Shakespeare’s famous male protagonist thought he’d seen it all. He thought he knew what a beautiful woman looked like. Then, he saw Juliet. And his whole world came to a crashing halt. His paradigm shifted. His perspective changed forever. What he thought he knew he immediately threw away into the trash can.

He knew nothing. And now he knows everything.

In similar fashion, we thought the “perfect woman” would look like Marilyn Monroe or Pamela Anderson or Trish Stratus or Megan Fox. Little did we know that our standards were way too low. Heck, our standards weren’t even in the right curriculum. Alina Popa dominates them all. She vanquishes her enemies like Alexander the Great marching through Persia. She redefines beauty, or even transcends the word “beauty.” Yes, that’s more like it. She transcends all conventional wisdom.

Alina transcends the sport of bodybuilding. She’s bigger than it – metaphorically speaking. She’s in her own class. She may not be the most accomplished or legendary or historically noteworthy, but she’s loved by everyone who knows her or knows of her. There’s also something strangely pure about her. She rarely does nudity (only a few photos of her topless exist) and she never does any kind of porn. That isn’t to demean any FBB who does go down that path, of course. But in Alina’s case, it works to her advantage. She’s sexy, but not in a naughty kind of way. She’s sexy in a way that isn’t wholesome (this isn’t the Disney Channel), but it’s not gratuitous either. Her sexiness is more charming than sinful.

If this seems like a series of rambling observations, that’s because it’s impossible to succinctly explain why Alina Popa is so amazing. All one can do is talk endlessly about why one loves her. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not rational. It’s unambiguous, yet not easy to describe.

In short, Alina Popa is a Queen because she exhibits one characteristic that very few beautiful women can match: Control.

Her muscle control is one thing. Her control over our hearts and minds is another. She controls us. Her beauty, brains, personality, aura, and ethereal nature have us in the palm of her callused hand. She can do the most mundane activity and make us go crazy. She can walk down a hallway wearing heels. She can bake bread. She can sit on a couch and watch TV. She can lie down on a bed and simply look up at the camera and smile. She can just stand there wearing a bikini and not say a single word. Alina can do anything and still make us go gaga over her. She doesn’t have to try to be sexy. She just is. Whether she’s wearing sweatpants or an elegant dress or a sparkly bikini, Alina appeals to us no matter what.

Come to think of it, she’s the most minimalistic female bodybuilder in the world. She’s simple. She doesn’t need to put too much effort into being sexually appetizing. She simply is…all because she busts her butt at the gym day-in and day-out. She makes immense sacrifices to look the way she looks. She puts in more work in a single day than most of us do in a month. And she does this because she wants to. It empowers her. It inspires her. It’s motivates her to get out of bed every morning. It’s her raison d’être. And we are grateful for her for making these tough decisions.

I believe Alina once told a story on Instagram about how her Romanian mother at first didn’t approve of her daughter becoming a female bodybuilder because Romanian girls are supposed to be “narrow and skinny.” But once Alina started winning trophies and accolades, her mother fortunately altered her opinion. Alina breaks stereotypes. She challenges what you thought you knew about female bodybuilders. And she does it with the cutest smile on her face.

Her muscle control mirrors her emotional control over her fans. Female bodybuilders are often described as being either “queens” or “goddesses.” A goddess is a deity who’s powerful but remains fairly detached from human civilization. A queen is also powerful but directly rules over her kingdom. A True Queen looks after her people with kindness, benevolence, and sternness. She’s authoritative, but not oppressive. A True Queen earns the trust of her people, as opposed to ruling over them through fear. A True Queen’s legitimacy comes from a place of love, not malice.

Alina Popa is loved. That is why she’s a Queen. Not because she says she’s a Queen, but because we say she’s a Queen. Because we want her to be our Queen. She’s a democratically elected Muscle Queen, not one imposed upon us by a third party. See the difference?

All hail Queen Alina!

She Belongs in a Museum

Rachelle Carter belongs in a museum.

Female bodybuilders are both athletes and artists. Personally, I consider them to be more artists than athletes, but that’s just me. Of course, that isn’t to minimize their athletic prowess or their belonging in the world of competitive sports. It’s more of a reflection of how I perceive their modus operandi.

They build their bodies to look a certain way. They lift, eat, hydrate, supplement, rest, and strategically plan their lives in such a way to achieve their desired look. This is why I consider them to be artists. Mozart had his symphony. Picasso had his canvases. Hemingway had his typewriter. Scorsese has his camera. Female bodybuilders have their bodies.

Their bodies are their canvases. It’s a blank slate. A sheet music with no notes. A film stock with no pictures. A chapel ceiling with no paint. A chorus with no conductor. They are in charge of their own destinies. No one will give them what they want. That’s not possible (yet). You can’t go to a plastic surgeon and ask them to give you large muscles. You can’t purchase a muscular physique on Amazon. You can’t cheat your way to the top. Yes, even with steroids. Human growth hormones won’t automatically give you large bulging muscles. You still need to put in the hard work at the gym to obtain them. And keep going back in order to maintain them. Or else they go away like winter snow when spring arrives.

She can choose to be as large as a world-class bodybuilder. Or she can be as slender as a fitness model. Either way, it’s her choice. And which reality comes to pass is entirely up to her. Using “bad genetics” as an excuse is just that. An excuse. And a bad one at that.

But I’ve already written about this. Nothing about this is new. We all know female bodybuilders are artists. We all know their bodies are art. We all know that we’re patrons of that art.

Here’s a cool fantasy I’ve thought about a lot recently. Perhaps many of you have too. Here’s what it looks like:

Imagine you’re a wealthy philanthropist. You’ve assembled hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars of wealth during your eventful lifetime. It doesn’t matter how. Maybe you’re a tech CEO. Or a lucky investor. Who cares. One day, you get a brilliant idea. You want to sponsor an art exhibit at a local museum. Or better yet, open up your own museum, perhaps in a makeshift environment like an abandoned office building or factory.

But you don’t want to showcase paintings, photographs, drawings, sculptures, or multimedia installations. No, that’s too old school. Too basic. Too…mundane. Been there, done that. Yawn. Instead, you want to display human bodies. And not just any kind of human body: Human female bodies. And not just any kind of human female bodies. You want to feature muscular female bodies.

Real muscular female bodies.

In various forms of dress. And undress.

But, uh, mostly undress.

Imagine thirty or so nude female bodybuilders standing around in a large room. Women of all races, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, and sizes. Some are posing. A few others are lying down. Others are dancing. One or two are masturbating. You might even catch a glimpse of two FBBs making love to each other. These ladies are standing on the ground, on a dais, on a bed, suspended above ground on wires, and so on. Some are doing explicitly sexual activities, while others are simply showing off their hard work. No matter what, you cannot help but be enthralled by what you’re witnessing. It’s not every day that you get to see this much female muscle in one central location!

Hey! No taking pictures on your phone! Unless you’re Cindy Landolt, of course.

The rules are simple: no touching, no taking pictures on your phone, and do not try to conduct a conversation with any of them. They won’t talk back. You can only look with your eyes. Drink in the moment. Experience what you need to experience. Leave a changed person.

And like most “radical” art, this exhibit is supposed to shock you. It’s provocative. Sensual. Alluring. Unforgettable. Unsubtle. In-your-face. Subversive. Erotic. Educational. And of course, unapologetically sexy. Very sexy. Almost too sexy.

Many people have seen photos of female bodybuilders in old sports magazines or TV documentaries. But few have been in the same room as one. And the experience will certainly be an eye-opener. You will not believe that such women can be real. No Photoshop or Hollywood-grade CGI are at play here. None of that. It’s all real. As real as it can get. Get used to it.

For fans of female bodybuilders, it’s a shame that our favorite ladies aren’t more prominently celebrated by our culture. They aren’t as “seen” as we’d like them to be. We love female bodybuilders but have limited opportunities to demonstrate that love. But more than that, we want FBBs to feel empowered, appreciated, and visible. They’ve worked their whole lives and made numerous sacrifices to look the way they look. One does not get hypermuscular by accident. It’s not a coincidence. You only look like that if you make a concerted effort to look like that. You have to expend blood, sweat, and tears over the course of several years to become that swollen. It takes pain – both physical and psychological – to achieve that level of muscularity. For women, it probably takes more labor and toil to get that big compared to their male counterparts. Life isn’t fair, kids.

So, it’s only fitting that they receive the chance to show off their hard work for an audience that might not necessarily want to see them. It’s one thing for a sympathetic audience to appreciate you. It’s quite another for an unexpected audience – or even one that’s pessimistic – to regard your body of work. And “body of work” should be interpreted literally, not just figuratively. The people who visit this art exhibit know theoretically what they’re getting themselves into, but they can’t truly comprehend what it’s like to see a muscular woman up-close until it actually happens.

The experience of looking at a muscular woman should be audacious. Exploitative. Daring. Bold. Offensive. It’s a powerful experience made more memorable by the fact that such sculpted women are so rare in our world. You don’t see women who look like Brigita Brezovac walking down the street every day. Heck, you may never in your life encounter a woman who looks like her. But if you are lucky enough to be able to, I can guarantee you will remember it for the rest of your existence.

One exhibit should feature Larissa Reis posing exactly like this.

Whenever I have the privilege of meeting a female bodybuilder for a muscle worship session, inevitably there’s going to be a moment during our time together when I think to myself “she belongs in a museum.” I may even tell her that. It’s a natural reaction when you’re in the throes of touching her hard, curvy body in the most appreciative and intimate manner possible. A point I’ve made before that bears repeating is the fact that for most highly accomplished people, their impressive accomplishments are not immediately obvious. For example, you could be sitting on the bus or at a coffee shop or at the library and for all you know the random person sitting next to you is a world-class violinist. Or expert astronomer. Or well-respected heart surgeon. Or once appeared as an extra in a James Bond movie or an episode of Game of Thrones. Or served in the military many years ago and came within a few inches of assassinating Osama bin Laden long before 9/11. Or someone who hosts a podcast that gets two million downloads a month. Or someone who once played the bass for a famous band during one forgettable summer concert.

Regardless, for these highly accomplished people, you can’t really tell what their accomplishments are unless you ask them. Or if they volunteer that information to you. But for a female bodybuilder – and male bodybuilders too – her accomplishments are right out in the open. It’s plain for all to see. It’s embedded onto every fiber of her body. Her artistic achievement isn’t just on her body (like a tattoo artist), but it is her body. Her body is her art. Her art is her body. And for that reason, she definitely belongs in a museum.

But more than that, the sight of a muscular woman elicits a different emotional reaction than seeing a muscular man. By and large, our society is conditioned to not think of a muscular man as being unusual. We know that guys who look shredded like an NFL linebacker are still statistically rare, but seeing a fellow like that up close and personal isn’t something that will make you stop dead in your tracks. Seeing a muscular woman, on the other hand, will make your jaw drop to the floor. As it should.

The sight of a muscular woman makes some people feel disgusted. Or insecure. Or inadequate. Or confused. Or aroused. Or angry. Anger can be a byproduct of insecurity – or a method for disguising one’s insecurity. Seeing a muscular woman distorts our reality and causes cognitive dissonance. We are unable to process what we’re seeing precisely because we rarely ever get to see something like this. Our brains hurt because our brains are processing new information. Women are supposed to be small and dainty. Guys are supposed to be large and buff. But to see a woman with muscle mass that surpasses that of your typical gym bro dude…that visual subversion creates psychological conflict in our minds. Conflict that makes us feel strong feelings. Feelings we cannot easily explain or articulate into words.

Another features Julie Ann Kulla sitting on a bed looking exactly like this.

For misogynists who don’t like strong women – “strong” both in the physical and emotional sense – seeing a muscular woman in the flesh feels like a sledgehammer being smashed into their toxic narrowmindedness. It’s a harsh reminder that their limited understanding of the world is probably a product of their own internal self-hatred. They hate strong women because they themselves are weak, feeble, and hopeless. They’re projecting their own inadequacies onto highly accomplished women who’ve done things they can only dream of doing. Female bodybuilders challenge in the most explicit way possible the notion that women are destined to be the “weaker sex” and that men own a monopoly on strength. Men do not, as it turns out, own any such claim.

I don’t want to suggest that guys who love female bodybuilders are more enlightened, intelligent, and socially progressive than those who do not. In all seriousness, there might be a small sliver of truth to that, but overall the love of FBBs can be politically neutral. I do believe, however, that guys who love FBBs are probably less sexist and hateful than guys who are genuinely disgusted by them. But I could be wrong about that.

But let’s return to my hypothetical situation involving the female muscle museum exhibit. Imagine being a sexist loser who is forced to walk through this room full of strong ladies. Everywhere you look, there are women with bigger muscles than you. They’re happier, more powerful, and more beloved than you’ll ever be. Do you react with bitterness, or a renewed commitment to becoming a better person? I sure hope it’s the latter, not the former. In this respect, this female muscle showcase can be a much-needed wake up call. A reminder that being angry does not make you righteous. That hating someone is less an indication of who they are and more a reflection of who you are. That you can become a better person if you choose to work on who you are. That you are not destined to be a loser for the rest of your life.

Siska Bossert looking like a chiseled sculpture. Because she is!

Beautiful female bodies deserve to be seen. Female bodybuilders deserve more visibility, a larger share of the pie of our nation’s multimedia landscape. And I write this not out of a sense of self-serving fetishism, but out of a belief that muscular women can change the world. They can alter our perspectives. They can inspire us to become better people. They can force us to reevaluate our own prejudices and dedicate our lives to self-improvement.

Because female bodybuilders are beautiful. Because female bodybuilders are awe-inspiring. Because female bodybuilders have the potential to break the chains of hatred and foment the foundations of progress. Because of this, there’s no doubt that…

…she belongs in a museum.

So pay your ticket, stand in line, and prepare to have your eyes, heart, and imagination opened. You might just like what you see.

The Hyperfeminine Muscular Woman

Minna Pajulahti is too hot for words.

Female bodybuilders are no strangers to the hurtful accusation that they’re not actually women. That they aren’t feminine enough. That they’re turning into men or want to become men. That men aren’t going to like them because of their muscles. That “real women” don’t look like that. That they actually look like men. That they’re confused about their gender.

And so on and so forth.

These slurs are so common I’m guessing most FBBs have achieved the ability to mentally block them out. They have a filter installed in their brain that allows them to ignore stupid opinions that have no merit. At least, I hope so. I cannot imagine how dreadfully annoying it is to have your appearance mocked just because you choose to lift weights, supplement, and bulk up like any other gym bro. Or that your personal definition of “empowerment” requires you to look different than the other girls – and that not everybody is on board with that.

Because of this toxic reality, it is not surprising that many female bodybuilders have decided – whether this is intentional or not is difficult to assess – to counter these slanders by presenting themselves in explicitly feminine terms. Think of it as compensating for their lack of “traditional femininity” by acting more outwardly feminine than they normally would.

Some examples of this include:

  • Getting breast implants
  • Wearing a lot of makeup (even more than usual)
  • Wearing sexy dresses
  • Wearing stylish clothing
  • Smiling, laughing, giggling, and doing whatever she can to appear less “threatening”
  • Posting pictures on Instagram of her doing traditionally “feminine” activities like trying on new clothes, shoe shopping, kissing her boyfriend/husband, playing with dogs, playing with kids, being a “mom,” cooking, cleaning, etc.
  • Promoting brands/products/stores that are traditionally aimed at women
  • Doing porn in which she has sex with men, with the man (or group of men) being in the “dominant” role and the muscular woman in the “submissive” role
  • Or doing porn where the man and muscular woman are equals
  • Choosing not to talk if her voice is too low
  • Doing photoshoots in which her face is edited to look more feminine and less hard edged
  • Avoiding talking about steroids, hormonal supplements, and anything that can be perceived as compromising her “womanhood”

It saddens me to think that female bodybuilders do these things not because they want to but because they feel like they have to. Yet, I am torn on this topic. On one hand, I am a strong believer that everybody has the right to craft their own identity to be whatever they want it to be. They shouldn’t give in to pressure to conform, fit in, or go with the flow. On the other hand, if being “traditionally feminine” is what they genuinely want to do, then nothing should stop them from being that. It’s a tough line to draw in the sand because I do not know what every FBB is thinking and feeling.

Don’t mess with Jayne Trcka. She has handcuffs!

Maybe some FBBs actually enjoy doing activities that are considered “feminine.” Or maybe they do it because they don’t want to alienate anybody. Or, like I said before, they want to appear less “threatening,” as if the sight of a woman with big muscles is somehow considered inherently threatening. Threatening to whom, exactly?

The Hyperfeminine Muscular Woman is a fascinating case study. What do we think of her? Is she compromising her identity by pretending to be something she isn’t, or is that who she really is?

At the end of the day, we don’t really know. But I do know this phenomenon does exist. For example, I can’t recall where I saw this but I remember reading an Instagram post in which Minna Pajulahti says she sometimes acts overtly feminine because she doesn’t want people to think of female bodybuilders as not being real women. That’s paraphrasing her rationale, unfortunately. So she does things like deadlift a crazy amount of weight, drop the bar to the floor, and strike a Beyoncé-like pose at the end as the “kicker.” Why dance around and strike diva poses? Because it reinforces her femininity, which apparently gets compromised when she’s deadlifting, squatting, bench pressing, and lift a ton of weight.

I am not criticizing Minna, of course. I love her and would never do that! But I will acknowledge that I think it’s a bit sad that she feels the need to do this. Not tragic, but mildly sad. Being strong doesn’t mean she isn’t feminine. Doing masculine-labeled activities does not mean she isn’t feminine. Having a nontraditional physique does not mean she isn’t feminine. All of that is complete and utter bullshit.

Minna Pajulahti is a feminine woman. So is Victoria Dominguez. And Kathy Connors. And Jennifer Kennedy. And Gillian Kovack. And Rene Campbell. And Wanda Moore. And Lauren Powers. And Rhonda Lee Quaresma. And Dena Westerfield. And many, many others.

What do all these beautiful women have in common? They’ve all had their feminine identities questioned. Or challenged. Or denied. I’ve seen them labeled “trannies” or “dykes” and other idiotic slurs. The stupidity of people who feel compelled to insult and troll innocent people is boundless. But that is the world we live in today.

Rene Campbell isn’t here for your rude comments.

What makes the existence of the Hyperfeminine Muscular Woman so frustrating is that we don’t know if it’s genuine or not. Are they acting overtly feminine because that’s who they truly are or because that’s how they think society wants them to be? To segment that last part even further, do they act aggressively feminine because they want to be accepted by society (whatever that means) or because they feel the need to overcompensate? The negative stereotypes that surround female bodybuilders are real, hurtful, and pervasive. Perhaps some FBBs feel compelled to dispel these perceptions by acting way more feminine than they’d normally want to. Either way, it’s sad.

It’s sad because I don’t want any muscular woman to act differently just because they want to please others. That’s heartbreaking. I want female bodybuilders to be who they are and not apologize for it. If being traditionally feminine is who they are, so be it. If they feel more comfortable being “butch” or androgynous, so be it. If acting and appearing more masculine is what floats their boat, so be it. Regardless, I just want every FBB to feel at home in their own skin. Whatever that entails.

But I don’t want to dismiss the fact that outside perceptions do matter, even if we don’t want them to. As individuals, we do have to conform to certain social standards if we want to fit in. At least, whenever we’re in public. Especially in the professional world. Being viewed as a scary butch devil lady may be fun as an online persona, but it’s not going to help you land any customer service jobs. Many FBBs are also personal trainers. They can’t appear too intimidating if they want to gain new clients.

There’s also the moral obligation to consider on top of this. When female bodybuilders choose to act and look “hyperfeminine,” are they actually doing harm to femininity without realizing it? For example, we tend to hold narrow views of what masculinity and femininity look like. It shouldn’t take a Gillette ad campaign to tell us that. Shouldn’t FBBs act however they want to act as a statement that “feminine” can be a much larger tent than it currently is? This could also challenge whether or not “masculinity” and “femininity” are real things. Or to what extent we’re allowed to box in people in these categories.

Roxanne Edwards slaying the bodybuilding stage.

It’s unfair to demand that every popular female bodybuilder is obliged to be an ambassador for female bodybuilders everywhere. They are not symbols. They are individuals. Yet, this obligation is unavoidable. Every time an FBB makes an appearance on TV or in a mainstream Hollywood movie, they represent FBBs as a whole – whether they want to or not. Jayne Trcka appeared in Scary Movie (2000) as the comically androgynous gym teacher Miss Mann. She was great in it, even though I cringe watching her scene. It plays for laughs every single negative stereotype you can imagine regarding muscular women. It reinforces the perceptions that women like Cindy Landolt and Aspen Rae shatter with every new Instagram post. Yet, they aren’t invited to appear in movies or TV shows.

But I am not criticizing Jayne. She’s awesome. She’s beautiful, smart, funny, and kind. She isn’t traditionally feminine, but there’s no doubt she’s a woman. She’s a 100% woman. She doesn’t have a secret penis tucked between her legs. And I totally understand why she took that role. You don’t say “no” to a mainstream Hollywood gig. Unless you’re Leonardo DiCaprio or Margot Robbie and you have studios begging you to be in their movie, most working actors have to accept whatever job is available to them. So I don’t begrudge Jayne one bit. I don’t blame her. And I hope none of you do either.

Therefore, Hyperfeminine Muscular Women are caught between a rock and a hard place. They’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Female bodybuilders who make absolutely no attempt to act more feminine are also making a difficult choice. They’re also stuck in a Catch-22. But at the end of the day, all this boils down to us. Whether we choose to accept a muscular woman for who she is depends entirely on us. Not her. We choose to embrace her butchness if that’s the road she’s chosen to traverse. We also choose to deny her femininity if she doesn’t uphold our personal standards of what femininity means. It’s a choice. A personal choice. We can either love her for who she is…or not.

Personally, I’ve never questioned the gender identity of any female bodybuilder. Even the ones who are the most masculine presenting. The ones with the deep voice, shrunken breasts, abrasive personality, large muscles, masculine facial features, and large bulge in their panties. They are women, even if 99% of us don’t acknowledge it. They aren’t tearing down femininity; they’re redefining it. Or expanding it. Or challenging us to rethink how we define gender as it is.

The truth is that the “Hyperfeminine Muscular Woman” persona is a performance. The Traditionally Feminine Muscular Woman isn’t. Most likely, an FBB who acts really, really, really, really feminine is putting on a show. She’s intentionally playing a part. She’s an actor and all the world’s a stage. And we are the audience, even if some of us are throwing popcorn at the performers like low-life jerks.

Or do you prefer someone as unquestionably feminine as Courtney Tillia?

This makes me sad. As it should all of you who sympathize with these ladies. When push comes to shove, I want every FBB in the world to feel comfortable in their own skin. I want them to embrace themselves. After all, how can anyone love you if you can’t even love yourself? I want every FBB to wake up each morning, look themselves in the mirror, and say to their reflection “Damn, I look good!” I want these ladies to take joy in looking the way they look, regardless of what anyone else says.

If they feel beautiful with a butch haircut, tattoos, and piercings everywhere, I support that.

If they feel beautiful with long flowy hair, glowing skin, and pouty red lips, I support that.

If they feel beautiful wearing makeup, I support that.

If they feel beautiful wearing no makeup, I support that.

If they feel beautiful slaying in a sexy red cocktail dress, I support that.

If they feel beautiful wearing sweatpants and a hoodie, I support that.

If they feel beautiful acting flamboyantly sexy, I support that.

If they feel beautiful acting quiet, humble, and lowkey, I support that.

If they feel beautiful with big bulging muscles, I support that.

If they feel beautiful with smaller curvier muscles, I support that.

If they feel beautiful playing the “tough girl” role, I support that.

If they feel beautiful playing the “nice girl” role, I support that.

Hopefully, you get my point. I want every muscular woman to feel empowered to be who they are. I wish every FBB can one day figure out who they truly are. Not everyone reaches that point of self-realization. This conversation shouldn’t have anything to do with haters, critics, or trolls. They can go to Hell. Instead, this should be more focused on what muscular women want out of their lives. Do they want to change the world, or do they just want to change themselves? It doesn’t matter as long as they eventually find the path they want to walk down.

And once they reach the end of that path, nothing should stand in their way. Not the haters, not anyone. Because it doesn’t matter what anyone says. When a female bodybuilder is at the peak of her powers, she isn’t listening to what the outside world thinks of her. She’s only celebrating her accomplishments, her goals, her dreams, her life. She’s at her most beautiful when she’s doing this one simple thing:

Being herself.

Angela Salvagno: A Female Bodybuilder for All Seasons

Angela Salvagno is a woman for every season.

The Perfect Female Bodybuilder may not exist. Never has, never will. But “perfection,” like any aesthetic (and non-statistical) standard, is all in the eye of the beholder. Perfection is an opinion more than an objective fact, something we should remember more often. It’ll make our personal relationships much more bearable.

And, of course, no female bodybuilder will ever be universally liked. Or universally fawned upon. Or, for that matter, universally accepted as being “more than okay.” Thankfully, consensus is not always the best measurement of one’s self-worth. Especially when we live in a world where there are five (and counting) sequels to “Transformers.” That’s five too many.

Angela Salvagno isn’t a consensus “favorite FBB of all time” pick. Nor is she someone who is polarizing. I don’t think there are people who love or hate her. It seems more fair to say that there are people who love her, like her, are indifferent to her, and could not care less about her. Hate her? Nah. That’s not a reasonable response.

Personally, I love Angela Salvagno. I think she’s awesome. She isn’t one of my all-time favorites, although she deserves to be in my top 10. As the kids like to say these days, she isn’t the GOAT. Denise Masino is a GOAT. Alina Popa is a GOAT. Cindy Landolt is a GOAT.

Huh?

Oh yeah. “GOAT” means Greatest of All Time. Not “goat” as in what Charlie Brown tried to avoid being labeled on the baseball mound.

Angela Salvagno is a Female Bodybuilder for All Seasons. That isn’t to mean that she’s philosophically, spiritually, and morally incorruptible in the face of external societal pressure. No, that would be Sir Thomas More. Rather, Miss Salvagno incorporates a multitude of characteristics that make up the identity of a modern female bodybuilder. She does many of them well. Not perfectly, but well enough to capture our undivided attention.

Angela Salvagno was born on January 13, 1976 in Willows, California. After growing up in Orland, CA, Angela now lives in South Florida. Or maybe she’s moved back and resides in Northern California again. Who knows. Her biographical information is sketchy at best. She is of Italian, German, and Native American descent. She’s always been sporty, having participated in baseball and Tae Kwon Do before pursuing bodybuilding. She began lifting weights at age 16 and competed in her first show when she was 23 (give or take). She started competing in 1999 and can still be seen on the stage today. That’s 20 years as a serious competitor, for those of you keeping score at home. Most recently, she competed in the 2018 IFBB Tampa Pro, placing 11th in the Women’s Bodybuilding category. Miss Popa finished 1st, naturally.

Speaking of which, unlike Alina Popa very few bodybuilding fans will consider Angela an elite competitor. Her résumé is still spectacular, though. She’s done quite a lot in her career on the stage, but in recent years she hasn’t made large waves. But she doesn’t need to.

I’ve written about “classy” vs. “smutty” female bodybuilders before. As an example, Cindy Landolt and Deidre Pagnanelli are classy while Yvette Bova and Kathy Connors are smutty. Before we continue, I’d like to point out that these labels have nothing to do with who these women are individually. Rather, these are the public personas they’ve each chosen to adopt. This is how they choose to market themselves. Just because Cindy and Deidre keep nudity to a minimum (and never have sex on camera) doesn’t mean they’re prudes. Just because Yvette does videos where she has unprotected sex with a half dozen men all at once doesn’t mean she’s less deserving of respect. Her choice to be smutty is a personal choice. It empowers her. It enlivens her. It provides her with a steady career. And income. Regardless of which path these ladies choose to take, they all demand our love, affection, and most of all, utmost respect. Period, end of story. So this is not a judgement, but an observation.

That being said, Angela definitely leans in the “smutty” side of the spectrum. She is not hesitant about showing off her body. Every inch of her body. She’s worked hard to achieve her physique and she wants the entire universe to see it on display. She isn’t tall (she stands at only 5’ 3”) but she’s statuesque nevertheless. She’s perfectly sculpted. Her olive complexion allows her musculature to stand out. When she’s strutting around in high heels, she achieves full Muscle Goddess status. And when she’s being dirty…well, that’s when she achieves full Sex Goddess status.

Physically, Angela is nearly everything you want in a female bodybuilder. I was surprised to see that she’s only 5’ 3”. Another source says she’s 5’ 5”. Regardless, I was shocked. When you watch her videos and see her photos, she looks like she’s 6 feet tall. Towering. Authoritative. Powerful. In reality, she’s shorter than me. That’s an odd thing to think about. Her skin is perfect. It’s golden brown like the spray tan most bodybuilders have to use when competing. I don’t know if she uses any of that before walking on stage, but it doesn’t appear as though she has to.

Her face is pretty, but not stunning. Angela is more beautiful than the clichéd “girl-next-door” aesthetic, but she isn’t so gorgeous you feel like looking at her will turn you into stone. She has curves in all the right places but just enough muscle mass to appease those who value that sort of thing. She’s feminine but tough. Cocky to the point that it may annoy you, but you don’t care because you’re captivated by her sensual personality. Miss Salvagno’s “bad girl” act can wear thin at times, however that’s a small bone to pick. Overall, there isn’t much I can complain about her. I really, really like her. A lot. She is one of my favorites, after all.

An interesting observation: Like many FBBs, Denise doesn’t do many videos where she’s having sex with a man. She’s done videos where she wrestles guys, but not too many where she’s knocking boots with them between the sheets. There was, however, one noteworthy appearance on Showtime’s reality show Gigolos. Angela appeared in episode 5 of season 4 that aired on May 16, 2013. She has sex with the show’s star, Nick Hawk, after she shamelessly shows off her muscled physique for the camera. You can watch a clip of it on YouTube. You’ll have to dig around for the entire thing.

But other than that, Angela remains surprisingly chaste on camera. She isn’t quite like Denise Masino, whom I will compare Angela to momentarily. Denise is practically virginal when it comes to her on-camera persona. And on the other end of the continuum is Yvette Bova, who loves to stick as many penises into every orifice possible. Miss Bova craves getting it on with the cameras rolling. Denise is more shy – or professionally/morally/philosophically disinclined – about doing that. That’s her choice, of course. Not a complaint.

Angela loves showing off her body and being sexy, even if doing the deed with a guy or gal isn’t frequently part of the equation. I don’t think that’s anybody’s loss. She gives us plenty to enjoy. When she isn’t talking dirty to the camera, Angela can often be seen spreading her legs out wide and giving viewers an up-close look at her genitalia. Here is where it is appropriate to compare Miss Salvagno to Miss Masino.

Like Denise, Angela possesses beautiful genitalia. Long labia, enormous clitoris, pink vaginal walls, and neatly trimmed pubic hair give her the complete package. She’s gorgeous down there. I can’t tell if her clit is larger or smaller than Denise’s, but that’s almost beside the point. Both ladies have memorable genitals that fans cannot get enough of. It’s hypnotic, an addictive drug you can’t shake off. Once you get a good look at it, you’ll want to see more of it, over and over again. And like Denise, Angela knows it’s one of her most prized assets. It’s her moneymaker. Her fans love what she’s packing down there between her thick legs. She’s sporting more meat than some guys can claim to have (although that’s quite an exaggeration, so please forgive me). All in all, Miss Salvagno gives credence to the notion that women are independent and sovereign sexual beings who desire pleasure just as much as men do. If not more. There’s no doubt that Miss Salvagno enjoys her sexual abilities.

Unlike Denise, Angela isn’t as prolific in creating new videos for her fans. She’ll do videos if approached by a multimedia production company like Aziani Iron or SheMuscle. But she isn’t one to take matters into her own hands and film weekly videos of her doing sexy things like masturbating her clit or teasing us while wearing an enormous strap-on. As strange as this sounds in the 21st Century, Angela doesn’t even appear to have a personal website. She’s on Twitter and Instagram, though. But that’s about it. Very odd for a female bodybuilder in 2019.

But that’s okay. Miss Salvagno doesn’t need to produce the same abundance of media as Miss Masino. That would be awesome, but it’s her choice if she prefers to have a more low-key web presence. But what places her in the upper stratosphere of female bodybuilders is the fact that she can do it all. She’s considered “mainstream” within the bodybuilding industry, but also dabbles in “adult entertainment” with gleeful pride. I’m guessing the taboo of female bodybuilders also doing porn has waned in recent years. In the past, I believe such activities would be frowned upon by competition judges. Today, it’s most likely accepted (even begrudgingly) as the cost of doing business. More specifically, there isn’t enough cost of doing business so modern day FBBs need to create their own business in order to put food on the table and keep the lights on.

So she can compete on the stage and at the same time mark her territory in the world of pornography. On top of that, she’s well known among FBB fans worldwide. And she’s considered conventionally beautiful too. Well, maybe not as gorgeous as a Victoria’s Secret underwear model, but beautiful enough to make your heart flutter when you see her. She has a raspy voice, but she knows how to use it to her advantage. Especially when she’s having an orgasm. When she’s coming, she squeaks, squawks, and splutters to her heart’s delight. She doesn’t hold back. It’s quite a sight to see! And music to my ears.

We must talk about this. Angela, like many FBBs, is one well-endowed woman. There’s a reason why she isn’t shy about showing off her clit for the camera. She also has meaty labia that can stretch for several inches. Five or six inches, maybe? It’s hard to say for sure. Her considerable genitalia is a useful reminder that women are not merely men without penises. She may not have a penis, but she certainly has genitals. And unlike many women, her genitals are not entirely internal. Lots of it is external. I’m a big believer in the theory that this is at the heart of explaining our society’s historical attitudes toward male and female sexuality.

It’s easy to see men as sexual creatures because their sex organ is obvious. It’s outward. It’s external. It’s plain to see. Women, by contrast, possess sex organs that are less obvious. The vagina is inward. It’s internal. It’s not something you can plainly see – unless she spreads her legs out wide and parts her folds with her fingers as if she’s preparing to get a gynecological exam. Because of this difference, humankind naturally treats men as the proactive sexual provider and women as the passive sexual recipient. In the act of reproduction, that is technically true. But physiologically and psychologically speaking, that cannot be further from the truth.

The truth is that women are in fact sexual beings. They can be the proactive sexual provider if they are allowed to play that role. And, if they want to play that role. Many cultures forbid women from being the one who initiates sex. However, Angela Salvagno and many of her peers are living proof that this is a social construct, not destiny. Biology doesn’t determine your fate. Miss Salvagno’s meaty genitals prove that not only is she capable of experiencing sexual pleasure, but her genitals exist solely for sexual pleasure. Her genitals are not a commodity but a prize. It’s a tool for pleasure. Her pleasure. If a partner happens to be involved with her journey in seeking pleasure, that’s fantastic. But it’s not a requirement. Far from it.

Instead, she can experience as many orgasms as she wants all on her own. She doesn’t need a partner. She has her own fingers. And equipment like dildos, clit pumps, and vibrators. Her very existence is a slap in the face to the antiquated argument that women are not capable of being in charge of their own sexual destinies. This is part of why Angela is so special. Unlike the countless number of female porn actresses who participate in the world of “adult entertainment,” Angela isn’t trying to flatter her (almost) nonexistent male costar. She doesn’t screech, scream, moan, groan, gasp, swear like a sailor, and cry out to the Almighty just because her male viewers like hearing that stuff and it makes her male costar look like a stud. She screeches and moans because she’s enjoying herself. She’s experiencing her pleasure the way she wants to experience it. With or without a partner.

Because Angela’s gigantic genitals are right in front of you (of course, with a computer screen acting as a pesky medium), you cannot deny her sexual sovereignty. You cannot deny that her clit exists for one function only…and her willingness to utilize its function as often as she desires. Miss Salvagno is a Liberated Woman epitomized. She is who she is and she refuses to apologize if anybody is offended or disgusted by her antics.

Whether she’s measuring the size of her clit when elongated in a clip pump tube or wearing a comically large brown strap-on dildo, Angela Salvagno knows she’s sexy, knows her audience thinks she’s sexy, and doesn’t care that the general public ignores her. Heck, in that episode of Gigolos her scene partner Nick Hawk looks intimidated by her. Perhaps it’s all an act (which is probably closer to the truth since there’s nothing “real” about “reality television”), but he seems to appear like his masculinity is being tested when he’s with her. She has big muscles like he does. She seems in control. He seems more like the client than she does. He feels compelled to prove his masculine superiority because her very presence challenges it.

Does he – and by vicarious extension, every man who is watching this episode – succeed? It doesn’t matter, to be honest. Her feminine strength doesn’t invalidate his masculine strength. She may make some men feel insecure (many FBBs do, for the record) about themselves, but that’s more of a reflection of them than it is of her. She may excel at projecting the “bad girl” image, but that’s not who she really is. She doesn’t want to emasculate you…she just wants you to feel naughty.

Oh so naughty.

But if she happens to force you to reevaluate your own inflated sense of masculine superiority, so be it. If your ego is that overblown that you are genuinely intimidated by a strong muscular woman standing right in front of you, you probably deserve to feel a tad uncomfortable.

She is that multi-talented!

That is why Angela Salvagno is a Female Bodybuilder for All Seasons. She doesn’t have Cindy Landolt’s striking beauty, Denise Masino’s endearing charm, Alina Popa’s eye-popping physique, Yvette Bova’s unrestrained smuttiness, or Minna Pajulahti’s natural feminine grace. But she has just enough of all of those qualities to make her as lovable as any of them. She’s isn’t considered “elite” in any particular category, but she can hold her own when put to the test.

No matter where she is or what she’s doing, she goes about her business with gusto, energy, and pride. She has only one life to live and she’s making the most of it. No matter what season it is.

The Unlovable Female Bodybuilder

Love is a many-splendored thing.

Female muscle fans have quite the collection of tea cups. Since, after all, female bodybuilders aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. But they are our cup of tea. So for folks like us, we’re in grave danger of running out of cupboard space.

Time to go to Ikea.

However, as painful as it may be to admit this, even the most ardent FBB fan will admit – especially if this confession must be obtained through torture – that not every muscular woman is deserving of our affection. Or attraction. We may still respect them as human beings, but are we “into” them the same way we’re into Cindy Landolt or Shannon Courtney?

Eh, no.

So yes, even for (as Bane would say) the “initiated” like us there are a small handful of female bodybuilders who aren’t our cup of tea either. This isn’t a reflection of who we are as people, nor is it an indication that we’re “sell outs” or not totally “down with the cause.” It just simply means that even we have certain boundaries that we aren’t always willing to cross. Or, simpler than that, not every FBB appeals to us for whatever reason.

There are a variety of reasons why we may not like a certain female bodybuilder. This isn’t to say that these reasons are justifiable, but they’re reasons nevertheless:

  • She isn’t “feminine” enough
  • She’s too “manly”
  • She’s had way too much cosmetic surgery
  • She’s done the type of porn that’s too disgusting, distasteful, demeaning, or nauseating
  • She has a personality that doesn’t mesh with yours
  • She’s personally done something to you that you find objectionable – such as cancelling out on a muscle worship/wrestling appointment, not returning a deposit, or being abrasive when you met her in the real world
  • She’s done things that have hurt other FBBs or the bodybuilding industry as a whole
  • She isn’t beautiful enough
  • She isn’t muscular enough
  • She “sold out” in some way
  • She isn’t your cup of tea – for whatever reason

Yes, even yours truly has a few FBBs that he can’t entirely get behind. That doesn’t mean I don’t respect them as athletes and human beings. I do. But what can I say? Even I have some limits. Maybe not a lot, but enough to justify an article like this.

Out of respect for female bodybuilders, it will do us no good to list names of specific women who are on our “unlovable” list. That’s disrespectful and counterproductive. But every FBB fan can rattle off a few names of ladies who aren’t quite to their liking. We may not want to admit it out loud, but we can.

It’s hard not to love Cindy Landolt.

So what are we to do?

Well, that’s the rub. On one hand, FBB fans tend to feel defensive toward their beloved ladies and hate seeing hurtful comments made about them. On the other hand, there are a few FBBs that even the most ardent fanatic can’t defend in good faith. This dilemma usually results in us not talking them altogether. After all, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I think our parents taught us that.

The inclination to remain quiet makes logical sense. What’s the upside of pointing out FBBs who are a bit “too manly” or “was cute before she got all that plastic surgery?” Not much. It only adds to the already toxic atmosphere that surrounds female athletes. It can also reinforce people’s pre-existing negative beliefs about female bodybuilders. The downside certainly outweighs the upside.

Yet, one cannot ignore one’s personal tastes. Even if we’re not willing to say it out loud, we do have these thoughts.

It goes to show that FBB fandom isn’t an “all or nothing” proposition. You can love certain female bodybuilders and not love others. That’s not a sign of hypocrisy or that you’re not pure of faith. It’s a simple indication that we all have different tastes. Or in some cases, different thresholds for what we consider to be “beautiful.”

Or rather, “not ugly.”

Hm. A fascinating concept, that is. There is a difference between “beautiful” and “not ugly.” Here are two examples (alright, so I guess I’m going to break my own rule and name a few specific names). I am a big fan of both Kathy Connors and Yvette Bova. But I am fully aware that not everyone can say the same. In fact, many devoted FBB fans will place both ladies on their “unlovable” list, just like Santa Claus has a list of children who have been naughty or nice. I understand that Kathy and Yvette are not everyone’s cup of tea (back to that expression again!). I will also admit that neither of them are what one would define as “classically beautiful.” But I find them both unbelievably sexy. See the difference?

You may not like Marse Manios, Kathy Connors, and Sheila Seger Benditz, but someone out there does. And that’s all that matters.

Kathy and Yvette aren’t beautiful. But they aren’t ugly either. They’re compelling figures who demand our attention, tantalize our senses, and electrify our fantasies. I can’t stop thinking about them no matter how hard I try. They’re both way more memorable than a roster full of NFL cheerleaders or a stage full of bikini models. Society accepts the latter as being beautiful while shunning Miss Connors and Miss Bova as misfits. These ladies will never grace the covers of fashion magazines or be seen in advertisements at your local Target. But nobody who does will elicit the same giddiness that you get when you watch yet another video of Yvette joyfully giving a blow job to an ordinary looking guy.

FBBs who are “not ugly” are those we acknowledge aren’t attractive in the conventional sense of that word, but are still irresistible nevertheless. Their appeal comes from nontraditional means. They compensate for their lack of natural beauty by beefing up other parts of their selves that people will find attractive. Kathy has perfected the “bad girl” attitude. Yvette has maximized her smutty persona for all it’s worth and more. I – and plenty of others – find Kathy and Yvette attractive because they aren’t afraid to embrace who they are and refuse to conform to anyone’s narrow expectations.

“Unlovable” female bodybuilders are, therefore, less a reflection on who they are and more of an indication of who we are. It demonstrates that we love female bodybuilders for a plethora of reasons…their muscles being one of them. Of course, it’s a significant reason. But it’s not the only reason.

By that same token, if we don’t particular like an FBB, it’s probably for reasons you aren’t expecting. It’s not just because they “look gross” or “have too many veins.” It’s could be because their personality is dull or the kind of porn they choose to do is not to our liking.

But we should be clear on this point: Female bodybuilders are under no obligation to be liked by you or me. They don’t ever have to get breast implants or wear makeup if they don’t want to. They don’t need to conform to anybody’s standards. If looking traditionally feminine isn’t on their to-do list, then so be it. If being glamorous on Instagram – and posting regularly – isn’t a high priority, then that’s the way it is. If they’re fine having a muscular chest and small boobs, well, live with it.

A tea cup.

I’m a strong believer in people – and this includes both men and women – being allowed to live their lives the way they want to as long as they don’t hurt anyone. No one should feel compelled to fit society’s expectations – however one defines that. Therefore, “unlovable” female bodybuilders aren’t unlovable because they choose to be – rather, they’re “unlovable” because that’s how we think of them. Not every FBB will make our hearts flutter or our breathing stop or our jaws drop to the floor. And that’s fine. Someone out there will disagree with you. But even that’s not the point. This isn’t about popularity or the perceptions of others. It’s about something more personal than that.

Female bodybuilders don’t need to be beautiful. They don’t need to be super strong. They don’t need to be glamorous. They don’t need external validation. All they need to be is themselves. All they need is one goal in mind: to become the woman they want to be. Whatever that means. Regardless of what anybody thinks of it. No matter what.

That’s what the game is all about. Self-love. Self-empowerment. Self-confidence.

Anything beyond that is just collecting more useless tea cups.

Black Princess

None of these ladies are “Black Princess.” But they’re all beautiful nevertheless.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Out of respect for her privacy, I will not reveal the real identity of “Black Princess.” Rest assured she’s a real-life female bodybuilder. But it is not necessary in such a public forum to give out her name for everyone to see. What happens during a muscle worship session should stay within the confines of that motel room. It’s a matter of basic ethics. So instead, I will just post stock photos of models to stand in for Black Princess. This means none of the women featured in this article is the actual Black Princess. Any indication otherwise is purely unintentional. If you are featured in any of these photos and would like me to take it down, please send me an email at ryantakahashi87 (at) yahoo (dot) com and I will promptly remove it. Enjoy!

***

“Do you like muscular girls?”

I take a moment to pause, turn to look her in the eyes, and smile.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t!”

She laughs and nods her head in agreement. It’s not a silly question, but one that still needs to be asked. After all, do I like muscular women because of who they are, or because of what “services” they can provide?

The answer is simple: I love muscular women for who they are as people. They’re awesome. And worthy of being praised. And deserving of their accolades.

It really is that simple.

Not too long ago I experienced a muscle worship session with a gorgeous female bodybuilder who was travelling up to Seattle for a few days. As always, I’m not going to use her real name, so let’s refer to her as “Black Princess.” She’s a fun-loving gal with beautiful curvy muscles, silky smooth skin, a radiant smile, and the greatest butt in the world. I enjoyed every minute of our time together, which lasted a bit longer than I – and she – had anticipated.

Unlike most muscle worship sessions, this was one that I set up at the last minute. Three days beforehand, to be exact. Normally I set an appointment with the session provider at least a month prior to the meeting. That way I can set aside enough money to pay for it, clear my schedule if necessary, and wait with eager anticipation. This time around, however, it was a more spur of the moment thing. My life has been pretty busy of late, so seeing what was going on in the “female muscle scene” wasn’t high on my to-do list. But I’m sure glad I did carve out some time to check it out!

Like most of the FBBs I’ve meet, I knew who Black Princess was before. She’s one of the many ladies over the years I’ve come to adore through her photos and videos. She isn’t as prolific as others when it comes to producing media, but she is definitely out there for anyone to discover. She’s not one of the more “famous” FBBs within the community of people who love FBBs, but you know who she is when you see her. She’d hard to forget.

I sent her a polite and brief email asking to see her for a simple muscle worship session. No wrestling. No BDSM stuff. Just looking for a fun, casual, and sensual time. Her replies were equally brief – although to be fair, much more so – and to the point. She, like many female bodybuilders who offers one-on-one sessions, probably gets inundated with tons of emails daily. So I was not turned off by her seemingly curt replies.

Her hotel was located at the edge of Downtown Seattle, very close to where I work. So I didn’t need to travel far to get to her room. It was a 25 minute walk at the most. I don’t consider that too long. I found the convenience a pleasant surprise. Plus, it wasn’t raining or too cold outside. That was a bonus.

Unlike most hotels, the building was a combination of apartment units and hotel units – meaning it was technically a private residence. So I couldn’t get inside unless I had a keycard or code. I texted her asking for her to come downstairs and fetch me. After a two minute wait that seemed like an hour (when you’re eagerly anticipating meeting a gorgeous female bodybuilder, time passes very slowly), I finally see a beautiful young black woman strut down the lobby and open the door. We exchange names and recognize that we have mutual business to take care of with each other.

Minutes later we enter into her room. It’s scorching hot! She apologizes and says she grew up in a household where the thermostat was constantly cranked up, so that’s just what she’s used to. She immediately turns on an air conditioner machine and within moments it’s humming and rumbling. I had to wipe off several drips of sweat off my weary face. I had a long and boring day at work. Naturally, I was also distracted by the nervous anticipation of seeing Black Princess. That didn’t make time move faster, unfortunately.

But here I am. Excited as can be!

Black Princess wore a button-down shirt and sweat pants. After all, she couldn’t wear anything too sexy or revealing when strolling across the lobby. That would definitely attract unwanted attention! She asked for permission to change. I told her “yes,” as if my answer would ever have been “no.” She walks into the bathroom and I undress down to my boxers as I wait.

Soon, she emerges from the bathroom wearing a white sports bra, athletic thong, and leather heels. She looks marvelous! With the shoes, she probably stood at a little under 6 feet tall. Without, she’s a few inches shorter than me. But for now, she towers over me. I don’t complain one bit. She has beautiful hazel brown skin, a killer hairdo, and nice curvy muscles that aren’t too big but big enough that you’d do a double-take if you ever saw her in public. She’s beyond beautiful. Wow! Stunning. A work of art. A masterpiece of human flesh. Unreal.

Black Princess is everything you want in a female bodybuilder: Gorgeous face, sparkling personality, curvy muscles, unquestionable femininity, an easy-going style, and humility. She isn’t one to intimidate you or make you feel inferior. She wants you to have a good time. She’s nice to talk to and has plenty of fun stories to share. We got off on a conversation that will stick with me forever:

“I’m not gay, but I love girls with muscles,” she tells me.

“Really? That doesn’t technically make you a lesbian?” I ask.

“I don’t think so. But I love touching their bodies!”

We laugh it off. But it illustrates an interesting idea. I ask her if she enjoys touching the bodies of muscular guys. She says she’s not really turned on by that sort of thing, despite her claims that she’s straight. She likes men, but also enjoys muscular women. She loves touching hard feminine flesh. I tell her if there’s such a thing as a sexual orientation that revolves around being attracted to muscular women, we’d both be card-carrying members. We snicker together in agreement.

I have no idea if Black Princess is straight, a lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, or whatever. I have the feeling even she has no clue what to call herself exactly. And you know what? It doesn’t matter how she chooses to identify. She likes what she likes and there’s no good reason to attach a label to it.

We stay mostly in bed. Eventually I ask her to straddle me. I reach up and feel her biceps. She flexes them for me. A chill runs down my spine when I experience her hardness. She’s so soft…yet so hard. She’s that multidimensional. She turns over and I explore the deep mounds of her back. She’s a sturdy gal with enough confidence to conquer the world. It’s surprising she hasn’t yet.

We chat casually about her daily routine, the weather patterns of Seattle (a clichéd conversation if there ever is one), my preferences in muscular women, and other mundane topics. I cannot stop touching her perfectly formed butt! It’s flawlessly shaped and she knows it. Damn well. She mentions how her friends are envious of her derriere. I can see why. If yoga pants “tell no lies,” then she has no reason to hide anything. I felt privileged to have been able to place my hands on her immaculate butt.

Black Princess doesn’t do full nudity, but she did generously remove her bra once my hour-long session with her lasted longer than that. I don’t think she’s a “clock water.” It probably helps that I was her last client of the night. It was a joy to cup her full bosom and suck on each nipple with languorous delight. Her nipples were taut and sensitive, judging from her quiet moans as my lips explored them. I really wanted to explore her clit, but she didn’t seem willing to remove her panties. I didn’t ask, but somehow I got the feeling she wouldn’t want to.

But that’s the least of my worries. I caressed her bottom, her thighs, her calves, her back, her biceps, her shoulders, her neck, and finally…her face.

I don’t often spend a lot of time caressing an FBB’s face, but I did with Black Princess. She’s a gorgeous woman. Even without her shapely body, she’d be a supermodel that graces the covers of all the magazines. Her face is art. Sharp eyes, angular jawline, rich brown skin, and not a single wrinkle – I guess the cliché that “black don’t crack” has some merit after all – on her beautiful visage, Black Princess sure doesn’t look like a woman approaching her 40s. She could pass for someone in her mid 20s. I felt a tingle of excitement while stroking her soft skin. It’s one thing to look at a beautiful face. It’s quite another to actually touch it; as if beauty is just as tactile as it is aesthetic.

As strange as this sounds, even if I were blindfolded I could tell that she’s beautiful. Just from how her face feels it’s evident that she’s a genuine beauty. Maybe that’s just crazy talk, but it sounds perfectly rational from my perspective.

The rest of our evening together is as low key as it can get. She lies down on her side as my hands carefully explore every inch of her body. We speak, but not too loudly. It’s a peaceful atmosphere, nothing even close to resembling a rough-and-tumble fantasy wrestling or hardcore BDSM session. For skeptics out there who think FBBs are gross or that guys who like muscular women are emotionally disturbed perverts, I’d like for them to be a fly on the wall who could observe our time together. They’d quickly see nothing strange, disturbing, or out of the ordinary transpires during a typical muscle worship appointment. Then again, being a fly on the wall has its cons. You can’t jump in and participate yourself.

Seeing Black Princess wearing very little is, without question, enough to make you want to jump in!

Alas, all good things must come to an end. Eventually our time together came to a halt. As I put my clothes back on, Black Princess tells me about a friend who lives in Seattle and how she plans to meet with her the following day. She hints that she may be back in this area sooner rather than later. How incredible that would be! She’s definitely someone I’d like to meet again.

As I walk back to my car, I reflect on our time together. She’s a princess, but a humble one at that. She’s kind, quiet, easygoing, sensual, and well aware of her unique beauty – but not conceited about it. She knows her beauty is an asset, not a weapon. A force for good, not a tool for self-aggrandizement. Black Princess is a woman who doesn’t stand out in a crowd, but will capture your full attention if you see her in an intimate setting. She’s beautiful in every way imaginable.

Like Blonde Amazon, Black Princess is a jewel who makes the world around her shine brighter. She isn’t “famous” in the conventional sense of that word, but she leaves a lasting impression that will never cease to make you smile.

As I write this, I’m still smiling. It’s not difficult to understand why.