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!

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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.

5 Types of Female Muscle Porn that We Need Right Now

Just make sure you aren’t watching porn on a work computer. And remember to erase your browsing history every so often.

Gone are the days when we had to hide contraband copies of Playboy magazine underneath our mattress, praying Mom wouldn’t find it when she does the laundry.

Today, we don’t need physical copies of magazines to get our fill of whatever erotic media we find titillating. All we need is the Internet. And the ability to escape detection. And the smarts not to do any of this on a work computer.

Oh, how spoiled we all are!

Yes, spoiled. This is especially true for fans of female bodybuilders. Whether we know it or not, we live in a Golden Age. Hundreds of thousands of photos, hours upon hours of video, and a copious number of social media accounts can be accessed right at our fingertips. We can enjoy our favorite muscular women without breaking a sweat. And in many cases, we don’t even have to pay a single dime. What a miraculous age we live in, indeed! This is a reminder that we cannot take this for granted. Many moons ago this wasn’t the case. But it is now. Hurrah!

And yet, despite the high volume of free or affordable female muscle porn we have at our disposal, there’s still a void yet to be filled. Perhaps the first step is to speak it into existence. After all, the Wright brothers didn’t come up with the blueprint for creating the first ever successful flying aircraft by twiddling their thumbs and daydreaming about how cool it would be to do that.

No, they did it by taking action. The idea had to materialize silently in their heads, yes, but that wasn’t sufficient. Once the idea was born, action had to lead to results which then led to accomplishments. That’s the way new inventions are made.

Most of the female muscle-themed porn out there is pretty basic. Flexing their muscles. Posing. Dancing. Having sex with men, women, or both. Working out. Masturbating. Using a clit pump. Talking dirty. In other words, nothing out of the ordinary. These are things that non-FBBs can do as well (including using a clit pump). But many of us want more. I want more. So I’d like to put on my Hollywood producer hat and suggest some scenes/scenarios that I’d love to see created sometime in the future.

Without further ado, in now particular order here are 5 types of female muscle porn that we need right now.

I’d like to imagine Kathy Connors would host a massive female muscle orgy if such were to transpire.

  1. A large-scale female muscle orgy

I’ve seen videos where four female bodybuilders come together (no pun intended) to enjoy each other’s company. I’ve seen threesomes. I’ve seen scenes involving a guy. I’ve seen scenes involving absolutely no guys – at least no guys in front of the camera. But picture this: An empty room. Maybe it’s in a fancy upscale mansion like the one in Eyes Wide Shut. You can probably guess where I’m going with this.

In the middle of this room are mattresses, pillows, blankets, bottles of lubrication, and plenty of sex toys. All the dildos, vibrators, and stimulators you could possibly ask for. The room is dark but lit strategically by candlelight. Or, there could be Chinese lanterns hanging overhead, giving off a sensual orange glow. Soft music plays in the background, perhaps a lone piano player or cellist. The scene is set.

One by one, muscular women of all shapes and sizes enter the room. They are all nude. A few might be wearing lingerie or nightwear to begin the night, but we all know they will eventually be discarded. The women are diverse in every sense of that word. Women of all ethnicities, ages, body types, and personalities. Some are as young as 18, others are as old as 70. But they all have one thing in common: they take care of their bodies.

There are big massive bodybuilders in contest shape. There are curvy bodybuilders in offseason shape. There are figure competitors, fitness models, track and field athletes, amateur gym rats, long distance runners, and everyone in between. There are Caucasian female bodybuilders, black female bodybuilders, Asian female bodybuilders, Latina female bodybuilders, Middle Eastern female bodybuilders, and so on. All of them confident, strong, and aroused. Some are more beautiful than others. But all of them are worthy of our awe and respect.

The participants lie down in the middle of the room and begin the festivities. They kiss, stroke their bodies, caress their muscles, masturbate, and make love with whomever is willing to be made love to. Many of the toys are used. The bottles of lubrication nearly run empty, but thankfully there’s plenty more yet to be opened. Eventually, there are 60 or 70 women partaking in this orgy. An orgy of female muscle. Strong feminine flesh is strewn around everywhere, carelessly and artlessly.

Yet, it is the most beautiful piece of art ever conceived.

Soon, cries of orgasm resonate throughout the whole house. Orgasms pile on top of more orgasms. The screaming is deafening. It’s a pleasure fest. Pure pleasure. Everybody gets what they want…and then some. There’s cunnilingus, sex with dildos, masturbation, muscle worship, and making out happening everywhere.

The image of this orgy will forever be burned into your memory. Arms, legs, hands, feet, heads, torsos, and butts are intertwined in a messy pile. An observer cannot tell where one FBB begins and another FBB ends. It’s a free-for-all. Everybody is covered in sweat and other illicit bodily fluids. At its peak, there are 100+ women involved, maybe more. Nobody can tell for sure.

It should be noted that there’s one rule that must be followed. No exceptions.

No men are allowed to participate in the orgy.

Period, end of story.

Men can watch from a respectful distance, but under no circumstances can they join in. In fact, there are a few men present. They keep their distance. Some have pulled out their manhoods and started masturbating. Others are watching with intent fascination. But what happens in the peanut gallery is unimportant. What truly matters is what happens in the middle of that room.

After an hour or two, the orgy starts to dwindle. Participants either move to a different part of the mansion – to grab drinks, use the toilet, or meet up with their male partners – or fall fast asleep. Less than a dozen are still active. After their orgasms subside, everyone decides to call it quits. The last few FBBs with energy still left in their systems chat about their hopes and dreams.

You, as the observer, cannot be happier. Even though you weren’t allowed to partake, you leave the party feeling like you just saw the Greatest Show on Earth. And it ain’t the circus. It’s an epic female muscle orgy.

Denise Masino pleasuring herself.

  1. Clit comparison session with Denise, Angela, Brandi Mae, Colette, Amber, Autumn, and others

Now this can get really interesting! Imagine a living room with a half dozen or so female bodybuilders sitting around. At the very least, we have Denise Masino, Angela Salvagno, Brandi Mae Akers, Colette Guimond, Amber DeLuca, and Autumn Raby present. There could be others too. But let’s focus on these six for now.

The mood is more light than the previously described orgy. The room is better lit. All the ladies are nude or nearly nude. And…they’re all equipped with their very own clit pump.

What’s a clit pump, you may ask? Oh you have much to learn, grasshopper.

After exchanging pleasantries, the six ladies start to play with their toys. They place the clear plastic (or glass) tubes over their engorged nubs of flesh and pump it until it gets as large as it can be. Then, they compare sizes. Who’s got the biggest meat? Is it Denise? Angela? Colette? If I were a betting man – and I am not – my money would be on Colette. But I would be glad to be wrong. Unless I put a lot of money down.

How many inches are these ladies’ clits when elongated in these tubes? Two inches? Three inches? Uh…

four inches?

After they’ve had their little “competition,” you can probably guess what happens next. The next portion of the video would feature so much cunnilingus it would make every customer at a Portland lesbian bar blush. The beauty of this clit orgy is that it’s no longer a competition. It’s a celebration. A party. A pure hedonistic ceremony. Every participant experiences so many orgasms she forgets how many she’s had when all is said and done.

That would be hot.

Natalia Gorbachev and her male counterpart showing off their sexy bodies.

  1. A tastefully done cinematic sex scene featuring a muscular woman

This doesn’t need to be a full-length feature film – although I certainly wouldn’t complain if such a thing were to come to pass – but at the very least a 15-20 minute short film. The setting can be simple. A secluded beach house. A cabin in the woods. A high-rise condominium. A mansion. A castle. A hotel room. A campfire. Anywhere. It doesn’t really matter.

Let’s keep the cast of characters also simple. Just a male and female performer. The guy should be someone famous and good looking. Chris Hemsworth or Henry Cavill would be two great choices. So we’re not talking about some shlubby Average Joe or a (and I shudder to write this word) “Schmoe.” We’re talking a guy who’s handsome, charming, and also in great physical shape.

And that’s the rub. The world desperately needs (alright, alright, I desperate need) a short erotic film featuring a good looking guy and a good looking muscular lady getting it on. But it’s not just doing the deed. It should also show foreplay, flirting, the build-up, and the aftermath. And repeated coital shenanigans as necessary, of course! Something like this that’s tastefully and artfully produced could go a long way in changing people’s perceptions about female bodybuilders.

They can be sexy, attractive, and desirable too. We know that, but not everybody agrees. So not only would this be self-gratifying, this could also serve a larger noble cause by shifting society’s paradigm with regards to female beauty and strength. As female bodybuilding fans, we value strength not just in the figurative sense, but also in the literal sense.

I’m sure there are plenty of film school students or Martin Scorsese/Christopher Nolan wannabes who would jump at such an opportunity. It’s bold, considered unchartered territory, and has the potential of going “viral.” No R-rated film can ever go viral in a “Gangnam Style” kind of way, but it doesn’t have to. And that’s the other part of this too. This shouldn’t be too graphic in terms of nudity. We don’t need to see gratuitous close-ups of genitals banging against each other. There’s plenty of crap like that out there already. Yuck. Rather, this should be something that everybody involved can feel proud of. I’m talking about a film that uses professional-grade equipment, employs a professional-quality production team, and produces a cinematic-quality final product. It’s not pornographic. It’s art.

Is that too much to ask? So far the answer appears to be “yes.”

Linda Steel in the middle of a busy highway. I wonder if she caused any car crashes?

  1. A “hidden camera” video of a female bodybuilder strutting around in public

I’ve written about this fantasy before, so check it out before reading further. But here’s the gist of what I’d love to see:

A camera operator follows a female bodybuilder around. Or, maybe there are multiple cameras. At first, she’s wearing something skimpy but legal. For example, cut off shorts, a sports bra, and high heels. Or a bikini. Or a crop top and yoga pants. Or a low-cut cocktail dress. Let’s say a bikini, just for kicks and giggles.

So she’s wearing a bikini. It’s a hot summer day. Maybe she’s near a beach, or maybe she’s not. Let’s say she is, just so her decision to wear a bikini in public doesn’t seem weird. The camera follows her. She looks incredibly attractive. It could be Cindy Landolt or Minna Pajulahti or Theresa Ivancik or Tina Nguyen. She’s smoking hot. Drop dead gorgeous. Eye-popping. Unforgettable. Unavoidable. Alluring.

She walks around a crowded part of town. People will inevitably stop and stare. Men, women, children, even a few dogs and pigeons. She has nowhere in particular to go. She’s just strutting around. As cool as a cucumber. She’s in no hurry. Her pace is slow and methodical. She wants everyone to look at her. She’s intentionally trying to draw attention to herself…by just being herself. She isn’t loud. She isn’t flamboyant. She isn’t aggressive in trying to garner attention. All she does is just be herself. And let her sculpted body speak for itself. Which is more than enough.

As people stop and stare, she also stops and allows people to drink her in. If people take out their cell phones and film her, she enthusiastically lets them. If this moment goes viral, all the better! They have her permission to amplify her.

This hypothetical female bodybuilder walks down every busy street so that the maximum number of people can see her. She’s a living, breathing piece of art that has escaped from the local museum. No stone is left unturned. This is her moment to shine. Her fucking moment.

Eventually, she stops. If she’s drawn a crowd of followers, they also stop. Then, she shocks the world.

She strips completely naked.

There will be audible gasps. Rude comments. People scurrying away. Onlookers seeing if there are any police officers around who will arrest her for indecent exposure. A few car crashes may ensue. Teenage boys everywhere finally accept the existence of the Almighty. After the initial shock wears off, she poses for her admiring audience. Bodybuilding poses. Glamour poses. She’s Beyoncé, that is if she ever decided to become a bodybuilder. She bends over to expose her genitalia. She clit is as hard as a rock and jutting out so far people are asking the same question:

“Is that a penis?”

It’s not, of course. But how can the general public not think that? How could it not cross their delicate little minds? Eventually, she either dresses back to “decency” or runs away into hiding. The camera captures it all. The buildup, her antics, and everyone’s reactions. These folks certainly didn’t wake up that morning expecting to see a show quite like this. But they’re glad that they did.

Nothing is sexier than watching Shannon Courtney deadlifting and squatting heavy weights.

  1. A compilation of female bodybuilders lifting really, REALLY heavy weights

These videos already exist, but wouldn’t it be awesome if you could sit down and watch a 60-minute compilation of several female bodybuilders, powerlifters, athletes, and amateur gym rats lifting really, really, really heavy weights?

Deadlifts.

Power cleans.

Squats.

Lunges.

Bicep curls.

Bench press.

Shoulder press.

Triceps press.

Hammer curls.

Standing T-bar row.

And whatever else it is that bodybuilders do to bulk up.

Imagine just watching this for an hour straight. Hopefully, all the video footage is shot on a good quality camera, not a grainy cell phone that captures only a few hundred pixels at the most. And unlike a lot of female muscle porn, this video isn’t meant to be glamorous, enticing, or sexy.

Yes, you read that right. This isn’t meant to be sexy.

But it still is.

For fans of female bodybuilders, workout videos are a form of pornography. It’s not explicitly sexual. They don’t get nude or anywhere close to nude. In fact, they often are the complete opposite of nude. These ladies are in the gym to work, not play around. They’re wearing sweat pants, sweat shirts, earphones, weightlifting belts, straps, knee pads, gloves, and a lot more clothing than you’d normally expect from a video that’s considered “pornographic.”

That’s because the thrill isn’t in what the ladies are wearing, but in what they’re doing. They’re lifting. Heavy weights. Really heavy weights. They’re sweating. They’re swearing. They’re chugging Gatorade between sets. They’re not wearing makeup or have their hair done up fancy. They’re not in the mood to talk. They may even get annoyed that there’s a camera recording their every move. They’re not there to show off. They’re not putting on a performance. Instead, they’re getting down and dirty. They’re working their asses off.

They’re looking unglamorous in the gym so that they can look irresistibly hot once they leave the gym. All the heavy lifting, eating, supplementing, and drinking of protein shakes goes toward one goal and one goal only: Getting pumped, vascular, shredded, chiseled, and as massive as possible.

Oh yeah.

There’s nothing more arousing than watching a female bodybuilder labor hard in the weight room. Watching her grunt, breathe hard, and struggle to complete that one last repetition makes our blood boil. It sends electricity throughout our body. We cannot get enough of it. It is – for lack of a better word – pornographic.

***

So there you have it. These are five suggestions of the types of female muscle porn we need right now. These are my ideas, not yours. Obviously. Did I miss anything? Do you have anything you’d like to add? Or, do some of these videos actually exist and I’m not aware of it yet? Please provide your feedback in the comments below or send me a friendly email at ryantakahashi87 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Perhaps I’ll follow up this article with another one if I get enough creative suggestions. Thank you!

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.

A Female Bodybuilder Christmas Carol (part 3 of 3)

When you think of The Ghost of Christmas Future, think about Fern Assard.

Continued from part two

Scrooge’s heart drops like the DJ’s sick beat. Gail Moore? So she ended up marrying Eddie Moore, the retired bodybuilder and U.S. Marine whom Ebenezer once got into a bar fight with? It was in 2002. In Rio de Janeiro. They were both scouting a beautiful young Brazilian female bodybuilder (with the greatest ass in the whole fucking universe) with the intent of asking her to join their company.

At the time Scrooge was with the WCBF. Eddie, however, was a senior executive at the East Coast Bodybuilding Federation. They both wanted this young lady to become a member of their respective team. But she could only choose one. It’s taboo within the industry to be sponsored by multiple companies simultaneously. After several beers and shots of whiskey Ebenezer and Eddie got into a brutal fist fight that resulted in both men spending the night in jail, surrounded by drug dealers, pimps, and low-rent assassins.

But that’s neither here nor there. Scrooge’s eyes are glued to the dais. The DJ starts playing “I Like It” by Cardi B, a far cry from Dean Martin’s classy Christmas crooning. Soon, Gail walks on, dancing along to the music. She’s perfect. She’s older, but still as gorgeous as ever. She’s wearing a skimpy low-cut leather dress that generously shows off her curvy body. Gail isn’t as muscular as she used to be, but you can tell she still lifts regularly.

As Gail dances and glides across the stage, loud hollering fills the room. The crowd is enjoying every second of it. Even Bobbi and Tim. He may not be old enough to understand what is happening, but Tiny Tim knows a funky beat when he hears one. Bobbi sways back and forth with the biggest smile on her face. It never occurred to Scrooge until now that Gail could very well be one of Bobbi’s biggest heroes.

After leaping into the air and landing spread eagle with the grace of a ballerina, the audience cheers so wildly Scrooge wonders if the windows will break. Thankfully, they don’t. Gail stands up and bows as the music fades. The applause lasts a good three or four minutes. Ebenezer loses track.

“Unbelievable. She’s still in great condition,” Scrooge mutters to himself. The Ghost of Christmas Present nods in agreement.

“She is. She’s remarkable. And your instincts are correct. She is indeed married to Eddie Moore. They’re very happy together. She’s the proud mother of three children. All girls.” Scrooge turns toward the spirit in disbelief.

“Wow. Good for her. That’s…incredible. She deserves happiness.” Before he can start to weep, Scrooge sees a large crowd of people shake Gail’s hand, hug her, and mob her. They love her. And she loves them. She’s happy – smiling, laughing, celebrating. In all the years he’s known her, Ebenezer cannot remember a time when Gail looked this alive. She seems at peace. Powerful. Joyous. Happy. Ecstatic. Content. As if she’s found her purpose. This is very unusual, at least from Scrooge’s narrow perspective.

Christmas desserts.

Did she ever feel this way during their marriage? Ebenezer is starting to have his doubts. Perhaps she never felt happy when they were together. Maybe this is the first time she’s ever felt this happy in her life. Now. After their relationship deteriorated.

“What are you seeing, Ebenezer?” The Ghost of Christmas Present asks. Scrooge almost forgets she’s there, as he’s totally captivated by the scene unfolding around him. He turns to her with sadness in his eyes.

“I’m seeing Gail…happy. Really happy. She’s smiling. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen her smile that much.” Then, Scrooge turns his gaze toward Bobbi Cratchit and Tiny Tim. They’ve moved away from the dessert bar. He is unable to spot them until he notices them approaching Gail.

“Hi Gail. Do you remember me? My name is Bobbi. This is my son, Tim,” Bobbi nervously asks Gail. “We met briefly at last year’s contest in Denver. You told me to never give up my dreams. To never look at an obstacle as being an obstacle, but instead as an opportunity to grow. I never forgot that. You’re…one of my heroes.”

Gail takes a moment to remember Bobbi’s face. She then extends her arms wide and hugs Bobbi so tightly Scrooge is surprised her head doesn’t pop off. “Of course I remember you! Aren’t you working for that horrible Ebenezer Scrooge right now? Let me warn you about him, my dear. He’s a cad. But I’m sure you know that already.”

Bobbi looks around the room before chuckling. She isn’t one to throw her own boss under the bus, but it seems as though nobody within earshot would mind if she did so. Ebenezer Scrooge isn’t considered a particularly sympathetic man in these parts.

“I sure do, yes,” Bobbi says. “In fact, he’s making me work on Christmas Eve. Can you believe that?” Gail nods her head “no,” knowing exactly what kind of man her ex-husband is, especially as far as the holidays are concerned. Tiny Tim emerges from behind her mother’s back to look up at Gail, whose performance knocked everybody off their feet.

“Is this your little guy? He’s getting so big! Soon you’ll be just as strong as your mommy,” Gail says. Tiny Tim smiles but does not say anything.

“He’s really shy around adults,” Bobbi warns. “Plus, he’s been fighting off a bad cough that’s been affecting him for the past few days. If it gets worse I might need to take him to see the doctor.” Bobbi squeezes her son out of concern for his wellbeing. Scrooge takes note of Tiny Tim’s condition.

This is the type of sexy low-cut dress Gail is wearing at the party.

“Oh, that’s too bad. I hope Ebenezer gives you some much needed time off to take care of him if that’s the case,” Gail says. “But then again, maybe not. Let me know and I’ll give him hell if he doesn’t, sweetheart.”

Tiny Tim coughs violently a few times. All look at him with concern. Even Scrooge. He wants to reach out and hug the little guy, but cannot because he is not actually there. Scrooge looks at The Ghost of Christmas Present. She glares back at him. “If Tiny Tim were to need urgent medical attention, you would be so kind as to give his mother some paid time off so that she can tend to his needs, right?” Scrooge nods, but genuinely wonders if he would have had he not witnessed this eventful scene.

Then, without warning, the room blackens. Yet again. The figures of Gail, Bobbi Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and the hundreds of souls around them fade away into total blackness. Scrooge is dazed. He never knew Bobbi was that fond of Gail. Nor did he know that Gail was that beloved within the bodybuilding community. To him, she was just a fading athlete whose popularity had come and gone. It never occurred to him that people – young and old, those who remember her heyday and those who were not even born yet – still adore her. That young women like Bobbi Cratchit, who was barely alive when Gail was at the height of her popularity, could look up to her for inspiration. She even said it herself. Gail is her hero.

Hero. Wow.

“Where are we going next, spirit?” The blackness persists, which is unusual. Normally they’d be at their next destination by now.

“My work here is done, Ebenezer. From here on out, I leave you with the next spirit.” The blackness dissipates, leaving Scrooge and The Ghost of Christmas Present in the middle of a dirty looking convenience store. Bags of potato chips, beef jerky, candy, cheap beer, rip-off brands of sunglasses, cigarettes, and scratch tickets line several shelves. The Ghost of Christmas Present is still with Scrooge, but she has a peculiar red glow surrounding her impeccable body.

“Who?”

“The Ghost of Christmas Future, or more specifically, The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come,” she explains. Her red glow shines brighter and brighter as their conversation goes on. “She will show you two versions of the future, I believe. And whether or not either of them comes to pass is entirely dependent upon you, Ebenezer.” Her glow becomes so brilliant Scrooge has to look away. Finally, she disappears just like the spirits and shadows before her. No one seems to be in the vicinity of the convenience store. There are no employees, customers, or people roaming around the streets. Scrooge looks around for any sign of life. Then, Scrooge notices smoke coming out of the bathroom. If there’s anything Scrooge hates more than gas station bathrooms, he is yet to find it. Tentatively, he approaches the source of the mysterious smoke.

Suddenly, the entire store is caked in thick gray smoke. But Ebenezer doesn’t cough or smell it. It’s like it’s not actually there. He hears the bathroom door creak open, but no footsteps emerge. Scrooge knows it’s the third spirit, yet for whatever reason he feels the most anxious for this one. The first was that of his dead business partner, Jacob Marley. The second was an apparition that looked just like Tanya Morganthall. The third resembled Elena Bourean. But what about this specter? What will she look like?

The gray smoke slowly but surely disperses. Standing in front of the bathroom is a robed figure. She is wearing a jet-black robe that covers her entire body. Unlike The Ghost of Christmas Past, this spirit can walk on the ground. It approaches Scrooge methodically, as if she’s self-aware of the macabre nature of her existence. Scrooge isn’t always a fan of excessive theatrics, but he’ll indulge this specter for the sake of personal growth and redemption.

“Are you the third spirit whose coming was foretold?” Scrooge asks with rote formality.

Silence. Then the spirit nods its head up and down. Ebenezer guesses – correctly, of course – that this denotes the answer is “yes.”

“Alright then. Are you silent, or just choose to be silent for dramatic effect?” That causes the spirit to laugh out loud.

“Great. You caught me!” The spirit lifts the hood from its head to reveal its true form. Like the previous two spirits, this one is female. But she isn’t someone Ebenezer recognizes. He looks closely at her face. She’s a bit plain looking, but not ugly by any stretch of the imagination. She can be “the girl next-door,” as if that wretched cliché needed any further usage. She takes a few more steps toward Ebenezer. “Greetings. I am the final spirit who will guide you through this eventful evening. I am The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, or The Ghost of Christmas Future. Did my predecessor give you the gist of what I plan to do with you?”

“Yeah, she said you’re going to show me two versions of the future. And I have the power to decide which will happen, for whatever reason,” he answers. “If you don’t mind me asking, spirit, but who are you in the real world? I don’t believe I recognize your face.”

A convenience store.

The Ghost of Christmas Future looks at a nearby can of creamed corn. It’s way past its expiration date, which makes her frown. “That’s because I am not born yet. So not only will I show you the future, I too am from the future. I will be born in the year 2023, which is, by my calculation, five years from now. Well, four and a half years from now if we want to be exact. But whatever,” she explains. “I’m the shadow of a young lady who aspires to become a female bodybuilder.” She rolls up her sleeve and reveals her swollen biceps. Scrooge marvels at her vascularity. He whistles in response. She politely smiles.

“Thank you very much, Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge,” she smiles. “However, whether or not I actually become a bodybuilder is very much in your hands. It’ll make sense a bit later. For now, we begin our tour. Look behind you. Mr. Scrooge.”

A bit dumbfounded, Scrooge slowly turns around to see what is behind him. What he observes makes him gasp. It’s Bobbi Cratchit! She’s an employee of this dreadful convenience store, judging from her cheesy-looking yellow and brown uniform. She’s standing at the cash register looking bored out of her mind. She even yawns, as if we needed further evidence of her boredom.

“Dear God, it’s Bobbi! Spirit, what year is it and why is this young lady working at this God-forsaken establishment?” Bobbi Cratchit gets so bored she looks at her phone and starts to play some mind-numbing game. Angry Birds, perhaps?

“She works here now. The year is 2020, so two Christmas Eves from now. Bobbi worked for you for a year and then moved on. But once you got rid of the Female Bodybuilding Division, she decided to quit bodybuilding altogether and find a new profession. So far, this has been it.” The Ghost of Christmas Future has put the hood back on, as if that’s even necessary. A bell rings, signaling a customer has entered the store. It’s an elderly man who’s wearing nothing but a military-style green overcoat. That looks a bit suspicious, Scrooge thinks to himself.

No shoes, no socks, no pants, no hat. And he looks like he needs a shave. And a shower. What the hell is he doing here–

“Good evening, sir. Can I help you?” Bobbi politely asks the disheveled man.

“Sure. Can you help me with…this!” The man opens his coat to reveal that he’s completely naked. He swings his floppy penis around in a circle several times, does a quick choreographed dance, and runs out of the store laughing to himself. “Merry Christmas, babe! I’ll be back! You just wait…!”

The hideous man’s voice thankfully trails off. Bobbi is standing at the cash register, stunned and speechless. She should have expected a man wearing a large coat and no other clothing would be a serial flasher, but how the fuck can you make that kind of instant assessment?

“What the fuck was that shit? That’s so fucking gross!” Bobbi exclaims. She quickly checks the computer to see if this asshole is on their “watch list.” They do have a few people in their database who they’ve caught on CCTV shoplifting or dealing drugs. But none of them fit this lunatic’s physical description. Gee, should she include the word “micropenis” in his character biography?

Scrooge is disgusted on her behalf. So is The Ghost of Christmas Future, even though she’s technically not supposed to comment on the action. As if matters couldn’t get worse, Bobbi looks outside and sees two high school kids getting into a fist fight. They’re screaming, cursing, and threatening each other. Just another day at the office.

“Fuck you, you little bitch! I’ll whoop your ass, you fucking cunt! You just watch me! Get the fuck away from my girl, you little piece of shit!” one unpleasant voice screeches.

“Oh yeah tough guy? You wouldn’t fucking dare come at me! I’ll beat your ass to death, you fucking bitch! You bitch! Come here, bitch!” an equally unpleasant voice responds.

The company’s policy is to only report a physical altercation if it appears other customers are in danger. So far, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Until…

BANG! BANG! BANG!

Bobbi screams at this sudden burst of noise and drops to the floor. Ebenezer’s heart jumps a few beats. The spirit seems unfazed. Dutifully, Bobbi finds the phone, dials 9-1-1, and stays on the line like she’s been trained to do.

“Holy fuck! What the fuck did you just do? Holy fucking shit!!!” a third voice yells out. Scrooge can’t see what’s going on outside, but it doesn’t take a genius to guess. The two kids sprint at full speed as far away as they possibly can. The third kid is probably lying in a pool of blood, bleeding to death. Bobbi mumbles something to the emergency operator. Scrooge and The Ghost of Christmas Future approach the window to see what the fuck just happened. Sure enough, there’s a 17-year-old boy lying on the ground. Blood is everywhere. There’s too much darkness and fog to see where he’s wounded, but it doesn’t look good. He isn’t breathing.

“Hello, police! There’s been a shooting at the Sunrise Gas Station on 58th Street! Shots fired. There’s someone who’s been hit by multiple bullets. Send help now!” Bobbi shouts into the phone. Scrooge turns toward her. He sees real fear in her eyes. She knows she’s not in physical danger, but it’s not every day that live bullets are flying in the air in her vicinity. That has a way of shaking you to your core.

Two minutes later, police and ambulance vehicles arrive onto the scene. An officer takes a statement from Miss Cratchit. Paramedics tend to the wounded young man. Ebenezer doesn’t read lips, but he can tell that they’re saying to each other that the boy is dead. Three bullets right to the chest will do that to you. Scrooge and the spirit are standing still in the corner of the convenience store – right next to the frozen burritos – and have not said a single word to each other. What is there to say during a tragic time like this?

By now, the manager of the Sunrise Gas Station has also arrived. He tries to comfort Bobbi, but he knows she’s shaken. It’s one thing to be disgusted at a flasher who ran in and out in the blink of an eye. It’s quite another thing to be traumatized by the sight of vicious homicidal violence. The manager decides to close the gas station for the evening. Bobbi packs up her belongings and walks out of the store. She tries to avoid looking at the scene of the crime, which is still streaked with blood.

Scrooge and The Ghost of Christmas Future quietly follow her to her car – as if they needed to be quiet. Nobody can see or hear them, after all. Bobbi is now talking on her cell phone.

“Hi, Timmy? It’s mommy. You might see on the news a story about a shooting that just happened at the place where mommy works. But don’t worry, little buddy,” she says, stifling tears. “Mommy is okay. I’m not hurt. Just a bit…surprised. That’s all. I’ll see you soon. My boss gave me the rest of the night off. Okay, I love you. Bye.”

Ebenezer looks back at the store. Sure enough, a camera crew has shown up. They’re from the Channel 7 Evening News. Looks like this is one tragic Christmas story that Seattleites everywhere will be hearing about shortly.

Bobbi gets in her car, starts the engine, and drives off into the distance. The police and medical responders are still on the scene. Apparently, there were other witnesses in proximity. An elderly black woman, her son, and a random jogger who happened to be passing by. The police collect statements from them too.

“Spirit,” Scrooge turns toward his host. “Is this the life poor Bobbi Cratchit has to live two years after I axe the FBB Division? Is that really what her fate is going to be?” The Ghost of Christmas Future nods her head. Scrooge sighs. “Well, shit. That fucking sucks. She’s a great girl. She deserves better.”

Then, it hits him. Like a bolt of lightning.

“Holy shit. She does deserve better. And I can play a part in making that happen!” Scrooge looks at the spirit. She nods her head again in agreement. “So that’s the lesson I must learn, spirit? I must keep the Female Bodybuilding Division around so that she can avoid living this pitiful life?”

“No, Ebenezer. That’s not the entirety of your lesson,” the specter begins. “There’s another side to it. Obviously, eliminating the FBB Division isn’t going to force every former competitor into dangerous jobs like this one, but that will be the fate for Miss Cratchit here, as well as her son Tim. He’s not so tiny anymore, you know.”

Ebenezer raises an eyebrow. He recalls that Tim was sick at Mr. Fezziwig’s party two years ago, but he chooses not to ask any follow up questions about that. He’s perfectly content going along for the ride with his spiritual host.

“Show me the other reality. When I don’t eliminate the FBB Division, please,” Scrooge requests.

“Of course.”

A black swirl engulfs them. The horrifying scene at the gas station goes away for good. Thank God for that! Soon, the vortex shimmers, rises upward, and finally disbands. Now, they find themselves in a completely different environment. A mansion. They’re just outside the front door. It takes Scrooge a while, but eventually he recognizes whose house this belongs to.

A gorgeous mansion.

“Oh my heavens! This is Jacob Marley’s old house! After he died, I believe his son Anthony inherited it. He’s the man who impregnated Bobbi. He’s Tim’s father!” Inside the house loud music, laughing, and other raucous shenanigans can be heard. The Ghost of Christmas Future walks past an empty beer keg, a used joint, and an empty box of condoms. Curious, Scrooge walks through the front door – without opening it, naturally – to see what all the commotion is about. The spirit follows behind inconspicuously.

Inside, the party is as wild as it sounds from the outside. Male and female bodybuilders, along with non-bodybuilders, are cooped up inside the Marley mansion – eating, drinking, smoking blunts, laughing, arguing, joking, and occasionally fighting. Nothing like some casual violence to make the holidays merrier. Scrooge wanders around the house looking for…something. He isn’t sure what he’s searching for, but for some unexplainable reason an unseen force is compelling him to be on the hunt.

At last, he finds what he’s looking for. In the main recreational room, a large crowd has gathered around a staging area. The atmosphere is similar to Mr. Fezziwig’s party a couple years earlier. Except the venue is much different. The size of the crowd is probably smaller, but Scrooge cannot say for sure. Ebenezer wades through the large mass of humanity – it’s easy for him to do that considering he’s witnessing shadows of events yet to come – and finally arrives near the front of the stage. And what he sees makes him stop dead in his tracks.

It’s Bobbi Cratchit.

But this time, she’s not working at that filthy gas station where nothing but depravity and violence festers. This time, she’s wearing a sexy Christmas-themed bikini. She’s huge. HUGE. Much larger than she currently is. Her body resembles that of a heavyweight bodybuilder, thick and muscular as hell. She’s posing on stage next to Rebecca Williams, a veteran female bodybuilder whom Ebenezer discovered at a rotten car dealership nearly two decades ago. She was a “fit” girl standing near the “muscle cars,” as if she could use her good looks to attract new customers. Ebenezer approached her and asked if she’s like to quit this dead-end job and come work for the WCBF as a sponsored athlete. She wholeheartedly agreed and quit on the spot. Good for her.

On this day, Rebecca and Bobbi are “competing” against each other on this makeshift stage in front of a cacophonous cheering section. The “loser” gets to take a shot of tequila. The “winner” gets to take two shots of tequila and advance to the next round. Bobbi looks pretty drunk right now. As does Rebecca. And the crowd, of course. Gail doesn’t appear to be anywhere in sight. However, Ebenezer Scrooge is struck by how radically different Bobbi appears to be, compared to how she was at that ugly convenience store.

“Let’s go Bobbi! Go get it, girl!” a random person shouts at the top of his lungs.

“We love you Bobbi! You’re a superstar in the making!!!” another random person screams. Enthusiastic hollering follows. Bobbi looks radiant. As she’s doing a double biceps pose, she looks happy. Alive. Empowered. Beautiful. Confident. Purposeful.

“Wow,” Scrooge mutters.

It is at that moment that Ebenezer finally “gets it.” It’s an epiphany. An awakening. A paradigm shift. Bodybuilding, for both men and women, isn’t about business. It’s not about money. It’s not even about fame. It’s about being the best person you can possibly be. It’s about fulfilling your dreams. Striving toward a goal. Building a family. Being a part of a community. Bobbi looks vivacious, while at the gas station she looked dead. Not dead on the outside (which, unfortunately, could end up happening if those bullets had been aimed at her instead of that poor kid), but dead on the inside. She didn’t have any purpose. Her dreams were squashed. But not by any natural means, but solely because of him. Ebenezer Scrooge. He dashed her dreams, not anybody else. He controls whether she – and countless other female athletes – has the platform to become what she wants to become.

Female bodybuilders don’t need a platform. But there’s also no reason to take that platform away from them. The FBB Division may not make money, but it doesn’t lose any money either. But at the end of the day, it’s not about either of those things. It’s about happiness. Fulfillment. Destiny. Dreams. Community. Self-love.

This outfit worn by Jana Linke-Sippl is what Bobbi Cratchit is wearing at the other party.

“Spirit, I finally get it!” Scrooge confesses. The Ghost of Christmas Future is now standing next to him. They are both watching Bobbi Cratchit look completely at home. She’s sparkling. She’s vibrant. He finally understands why both Gail and Bobbi – as well as countless other women – don’t trust or especially like him. It’s because he refuses to see the other side of the bodybuilding industry that isn’t about money.

That other side is…the human side.

“Yes you do, Ebenezer,” the spirit says. “You finally understand what you need to do. How you can make this all right. How to right your wrongs.”

Just as Ebenezer is about to respond to his spiritual guide, he finds himself floating straight up into the air. He cannot stop his upward momentum. It’s just him, flying high above the Seattle skyline. Scrooge is sobbing. His body enters the clouds. A bolt of lightning strikes across his face. He closes his eyes to avoid being blinded. When he re-opens his eyes, he’s now lying down in his bed. In his home. Just him. The grandfather clock says it is 9:00 a.m.

It’s Christmas morning.

As giddy as a schoolboy, Scrooge runs to his window and opens it. He smells the fresh air. Then, he spots a young child making a snowman across the street. Whiteness permeates the world. A fresh sheet of snow apparently fell during the night. The kid seems at peace, but Ebenezer cannot help himself. He must find out if it’s truly Christmas morning. If the spirits returned him to the right place and time.

“You! You there!” he shouted to the boy on the street. “What day is this?”

The boy gives Scrooge a puzzled look. “It’s Christmas, sir. Christmas morning.”

“Good! I haven’t missed it! I’ve been given another chance. I will honor the importance of female bodybuilding in the past, present, and future!” Scrooge proclaims. The boy looks confused, so he continues to make his snowman unabated. Ebenezer slams the window shut, scrambles around to get dressed in proper clothing, and runs downstairs to his lounge chair where his phone is still sitting. He forgot to charge it overnight, but thankfully it still has 38% battery power. Scrooge immediately dials Charlie’s number.

“Charlie! Wake up!” he gleefully shouts once Charlie answers it. “Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family! Hey, you don’t need to do anything right now, but I’m reversing my decision to get rid of the Female Bodybuilding Division. I want to keep it. Forever. Alright? Have a Merry Christmas. Bye, Charlie.” A perplexed Charlie is standing in his living room – surrounded by his wife, four kids, and three dogs – unable to process his boss’s unusually chipper mood. What gives?

Next, Scrooge leaves a voice message on the homeless shelter’s answering machine. He promises to double his donation to $3,000 for their annual fundraising dinner. He figures their staff will get it first thing tomorrow morning.

Winter outside the window.

“Alright, one more stone left unturned,” he proudly exclaims.

Not wanting to disturb her beautiful family on this special day, Scrooge texts a simple message to his brand new intern:

“Merry Christmas, Bobbi. Just so you know, I’ve had a change of heart. I’m keeping the FBB Division. Your dreams will not be shattered. Go and fulfill everything you hope to achieve in your life. Sorry for being a jerk. See you at the office tomorrow!”

At Bobbi Cratchit’s cramped apartment on the other side of town, a buzzing of her phone forces Tiny Tim’s mother to stop cooking Christmas breakfast and check it. After she reads her boss’s inexplicable text, she stands frozen, unable to speak or move. Her young son notices his mother’s unusual behavior and approaches her cautiously.

“What’s wrong, mommy?” Tim’s little voice inquires.

“Nothing, sweetie,” Bobbi begins. “I just received great news. News that makes mommy really happy.” Satisfied with this answer, Tim makes a bold proclamation that Bobbi swears she’s never heard her son say before:

“God bless us, everyone!”

A small tear rolls down her face. Bobbi looks up and says a silent prayer to the heavens. Before she resumes preparing their breakfast, she peers down at her handsome son and replies to his blessing.

“We are, son. We are.”

The End