Nostalgic for Naughtiness

An old issue of Women’s Physique World featuring Shelley Beattie and Sharon Bruneau.

Every man who was once a teenage boy with raging hormones should be able to identify with this scenario:

You borrow a copy of a dirty magazine from a buddy at school. Or you steal it from a grocery store with the stealth skills of a Special Ops commander. Or you’re lucky enough to stumble upon an old issue of Playboy or Hustler sitting in a garbage can or recycling bin. No matter how you acquire said dirty magazine, it’s a prized possession that you will guard with your life.

Your brothers and sisters cannot know about it. Your parents especially cannot know about it. So it must be kept a secret from prying eyes, forever fated to be stuffed in your sock drawer or underneath your mattress. The only time you can look at it is at night under the cover of darkness. Bring it to school and you risk one of your teachers discovering it, confiscating it, and telling Mom or Dad about it. Talk about bad news. Can’t possibly risk that. No bloody way.

But what’s in that dirty magazine that’s so damn intriguing? It’s simple: Beautiful girls wearing very little (or no) clothing. Just a few short years ago, girls were disgusting creatures who were annoying, bad at sports, and had different hobbies than you. Today, it’s a whole different story. Girls are enigmatic creatures who make you feel wiggly inside. You cannot help but stare at the ones who were the prettiest or had the shapeliest bodies. And you definitely struggle to stop staring at the ones with big boobs. Oh boy…

But your magazine offers a special glimpse that you cannot possibly have while sitting in math class. Your treasured magazine shows you a whole new side of the female species that you’ve only just begun to discover. You finally get to see what a pair of breasts look like. You finally learn why Dad married Mom in the first place. And, you finally find out what girls have between their legs that you don’t.

This scenario should be especially familiar with those of you who are older than 30. However, as the Internet Age rolled around, teenage boys don’t have to sneak dirty magazines into their bedrooms in order to get their “fix.” Pictures of gorgeous naked women are only a simple Google search away (not to mention a furious effort to delete one’s browsing history before Grandma next uses the family computer). So as time goes on, one presumes this familiar scenario will become less familiar.

Will you accept this rose from Raye Hollitt?

Nevertheless, for those of us who love female bodybuilders, there’s an added dimension to our story of how we discovered what turns us on. In addition to conventionally beautiful lingerie and fashion models, we were also introduced to pretty women who sported a bit more muscle mass than usual. So not only were we smuggling copies of Playboy into our coat closets, we were also sneaking in contraband fitness and weightlifting magazines.

Sure, the majority of those publications featured big burly men. But on occasion, we got to feast our eyes on ladies with big burly muscles.

Oh baby.

In today’s modern world in which everything you can possibly think of can now be accessed through the Internet, it’s becoming easier and easier to indulge in your vices in complete privacy. Private web browsing has been a helpful tool in hiding your fetishes from anyone who also happens to use your computer. Granted, you still need to be cautious when you’re at work, but when you’re sitting at home you can be as freaky as you want to be without a single soul knowing about it.

Yet, with all this erotic material readily available at your fingertips, doesn’t it seem like the “old days” were a bit more, how shall we say it, “naughty?”

What is meant by that is the general feeling that back in the days when images of beautiful muscular women were rare, the few opportunities we got to feast our eyes on them seemed much more exciting than they do now. Today, we can easily scroll through hundreds of female bodybuilders, fitness models, and athletes on Instagram, Tumblr blogs, and fan websites without breaking a sweat. No need to sneak in magazines underneath your Mom’s watchful eye. No fear of Dad finding out. Also, no need to research where you can find these photos, which in our youth we treated as precious commodities like gold, diamonds, and crude oil.

With search engines and social media making our beloved ladies more easily available than ever before, why do simple Google searches fail to send that same tingling sensation down our spines that peering through old photos of Rachel McLish late at night in our bedrooms once did? Is it because we’re older and more accustomed to seeing photos of gorgeous muscular women, or is it something deeper?

Let’s explore the latter. It is not beyond comprehension that part of the reason why our adolescent brains were kicking into overdrive was because, well, the clichéd phrase “raging hormones” exists for a reason. So is it fair to say that as we get older our hormones get more under control, thus we become less fanatical in our desire to ogle beautiful women? Maybe, but that doesn’t appear to be the only answer. For the female muscle enthusiasts out there, another explanation must cover the territory of the “forbidden fruit.”

As if peering at photos of beautiful women weren’t scandalous (relatively speaking) enough, being turned on by photos of muscular beautiful women is a whole other story. Now we’re crossing into “weird” ground, not just “scandalous.” It’s not embarrassing to admit you’d like to tap Pamela Anderson (especially if you grew up in the 90s), but it would definitely raise a few eyebrows if you declare proudly that you’d also like to screw Kim Chizevsky. Especially if the people you were with knew who Kim is and what she looks like.

Talk about awkward.

But awkwardness is exactly the point. We’re embarrassed because we don’t want others to find out about our attraction to female bodybuilders, but we’re also somewhat embarrassed for our own sake. We start to wonder if something is wrong with us. We ask questions such as: Am I normal? Am I secretly gay? Why don’t more people feel the same way as I do?

But even those questions are starting to diminish. The Internet has played an integral role in breaking down almost every social taboo you can think of. You can easily locate like-minded individuals who are into the same “unusual” stuff as you. Do you enjoy drawing Game of Thrones fan art? Or writing Harry Potter fan fiction? Or immersing yourself into “Furry” culture (don’t look it up if you aren’t prepared to truly find out what it is)? Well, finding other people who are into the same things as you has never been easier. This is quite a blessing, especially if you are prone to wondering whether if you’re alone in the Universe. Odds are you are not.

The statuesque Bev Francis.

The same goes for female muscle fetishism. For all its flaws, Saradas.com is a popular forum for discussing and sharing content related to female bodybuilding, sessions, fantasy wrestling, and the like. You can easily connect and communicate with people all across the globe who enjoy the same female muscle-related activities as you. This level of connectivity with souls spread around the planet is unprecedented. Yet here we are. What a time to be alive.

However, despite the ease of which we can access photos/videos of muscular women and meet people who share our common interests, why does it seem like (to repeat the question articulated earlier) the old days were much naughtier? Maybe this isn’t true for everyone, but it’s not beyond the stretch of the imagination to say that once something becomes mainstream, it starts to lose a little bit of its juice. Granted, female bodybuilding is still (and probably never will be) not considered mainstream, but within the world of Internet subcultures, anything can be mainstream if you look in the right places. What’s the deal here?

The best explanation has to be the fact that before the Internet existed, most of us truly didn’t know if other people felt the same way about female bodybuilders as we did. Before Google allowed us to discover information faster and easier than before, we had no idea how many other people (if any at all) shared our fascination with them. It’s not just loneliness. It’s the fear that nobody else is crazy enough to get turned on by a woman with big muscles. And if that’s the case, isn’t the next logical conclusion that there must be something “off” about us?

Hence, our uncontrollable and unexplainable attraction to female muscle felt supremely naughty. And not just naughty in a moral sense, but also in a psychological sense. We didn’t know if our brains were working properly. That’s taking naughtiness to a whole new level.

The other explanation is the supply of female muscle-related media. Back in the pre-Internet age, our exposure to FBBs was limited to magazines, bodybuilding contests on television, and your old dusty VHS copy of “Pumping Iron II: The Women.” That’s about it. So the few instances in which we could find new photos of female bodybuilders were few and far between.

That made the experience all the more exciting. The rare occurrence when we could get our sweaty hands on a brand new issue of the latest fitness magazine seemed like a quasi-religious experience. It was as if we had found a Golden Ticket in our recently purchased Wonka Bar. We felt as giddy as if it were Christmas morning. But instead of a new bicycle or autographed football, it was a magazine chock full of images of powerful women with bulging biceps and massive quads. Hell, this beats the experience of tearing up presents underneath the decorated tree by a mile!

Who wants to lift with Cory Everson?

Back when the product is scarce, we appreciated it more. Now that the product is available in abundance, you’d think we would appreciate it more, but we don’t. Ironically, an overabundance of the product actually ends up making us appreciate it less. Thirty years ago, we had to risk life and limb to sneak a copy of a bodybuilding magazine into our rooms without our parents detecting it. Today, we can skim through endless Instagram feeds of scantily clad female bodybuilders, athletes, and fitness models with our only concern being whether we’ll run out of battery power.

This is a good thing, right? Of course it is. But human nature being what it is, we can’t help but sense a diminished sense of giddiness living in today’s media-saturated environment. Our love for female bodybuilders seems cheap. Easy. Casual. Maybe not mainstream, but certainly less-out-of-the-ordinary-than-before. Female muscle fetishism has lost some of its naughtiness. What should we make of this?

Well, not much. But this does provide a valuable lesson about the relationship between cultural acceptance and modern communications technology.

People tend to react viscerally to things that are unusual, even if they aren’t necessarily “weird.” Unusual is simply anything that is not usual. But the more common it becomes, the less unusual it is, and the more “normal” it seems. This is not rocket science. This simple observation is also true for female muscle and our reaction to it. We think it’s strange to see women with big muscles precisely because women with big muscles are rare. But as our definition of “mainstream” starts to veer away from legacy corporate advertising and toward more grassroots-based media, the doors to almost anything will swing wide open.

The list goes on regarding things you once never saw but now can see whenever you feel like it: Plus-sized models, South Korean soap operas, documentaries about dwarfs (not the Lord of the Rings kind), Bollywood movies, Japanese pop music, Australian rugby matches, Brazilian cooking shows, cosplay conventions, Facebook groups for people who identify as “Gender Non-Conforming,” and so on. And yes, this includes photos, videos, blogs, and communities dedicated to female muscle. Almost anything you can think of is out there for public consumption.

An iconic female bodybuilder, Rachel McLish.

You just have to know where to look for it. Because not all of it will appear right under your nose when you least expect it.

Maybe this is why our love for female bodybuilders seems less naughty in today’s world than it did in yesteryear’s world. It’s not mainstream in the traditional sense of the word, but the very concept of “mainstream” is being challenged like never before. The Internet has allowed for the proliferation of subcultures and subcultures within subcultures to meet and convene in ways that were unimaginable even twenty years ago. And that’s not a long time ago, in relative terms.

Hence, we may be reaching – or have already reached – the point where the familiar scenario outlined in the beginning of this article will no longer be familiar to the younger generation. Those of us in our late 20s and early 30s might be the last cohort who remembers sneaking dirty magazines into our bedrooms. Today, this is a thing of the past. Those days are over. Everything we love is now digitalized. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Only time will tell.

Laurie Noack Gibson by the swimming pool. Want to jump in?

But what we can conclude is that for lovers of female muscle, this is a fantastic cultural development. Our access to beautiful muscular women has reached unprecedented levels. Well, actually, our access to anything you can possibly think of has reached unprecedented levels. As much as this can be a cause for celebration and popping the champagne corks, there is something tangible that’s been lost. That rush of adrenaline we all felt when we were scared out of our wits about being caught with muscle magazines has now been replaced with remembering to delete your browsing history. Ho hum. Boring!

Or is it? Is feeling naughty – and by extension, guilty – really a positive thing? Or does it only serve to suppress our natural desires and keep us shackled to society’s stringent standards? The answer to this is impossible to fully know, and perhaps we’re just being prisoners of nostalgia. We want the next generation to experience the same things we did when we were younger…for no other reason than we enjoyed it.

But will they? Maybe all this sneaking around wasn’t healthy at all and that society will actually benefit from being more open about sexual attraction, desire, and impulses. In this case, we should applaud the trends we’re currently witnessing.

But one suspects that being naughty, no matter what form that takes, will always be with us. And if that’s the case, does it matter how crotchety old fogies like us think about it?

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Muscular Women in Still Motion

This old school photo of Cory Everson still gives us chills all these years later.

This old school photo of Cory Everson still gives us chills all these years later.

They say a photograph is a moment in time captured on film; one that can never be reproduced because such a moment will never happen exactly as it did ever again.

Well, today most photos are taken digitally from point-and-click cameras or cell phones. But the idea remains the same: The purpose of still images is to provide a snapshot of a particular moment in time and to allow the viewer – whether they see it a hundred days later or a hundred years later – to experience from a distance what the moment might have been like.

Maybe we’re talking about a photo from your kid’s 6th birthday party. Or your father’s grand retirement celebration. Or when your mom won a prestigious community service award. Or when you and your buddies experienced your team winning the World Series. Or when your lovely partner finally said “I do.” The possibilities are endless.

That’s the inherent advantage between a still photo and a video clip. A still photo captures a precise moment in time. A video captures a stretch of time, which could last seven seconds or seven hours. Technically speaking, a video clip is more accurate in documenting reality while a photograph can be deceptive. How many times have we seen a nice photograph of a couple enjoying a night out on the town only to learn this couple tragically died in a fatal car accident only hours later? Or an image of a star high school athlete relishing in triumphant victory…but later his or her life is unexpectedly cut short after he or she is victim to a heartless shooting?

Thus, the beauty of photographs is that they encapsulate a specific moment without delving too deep into the context of said moment. Even if the subjects of the picture are moving around (as opposed to posing for the photographer), moments very rarely happen in stillness. Yet, a photograph is still. They don’t move or communicate motion. Think about those creepy turn-of-the-century black and white family photos where one of the “posing” members is a dead body. Don’t believe me? Look it up.

The subjects of photos appear to be not just still, but frozen in time. We see who they are instead of what they’re doing. It illustrates the poetic truth that time is not a continuous arc of events, but rather a series of individually poignant moments.

Except when it comes to female bodybuilders.

You knew I’d eventually get around to this subject, right?

For us fans of female bodybuilders, muscular women, athletes, fitness models, and amateur gym rats, the most prominent way we’re able to “experience” these women is through still images. Thanks to YouTube, social media, Vimeo, and other video sharing platforms we’re also able to watch them in action. But the most significant avenue through which we satisfy our female muscle fix is through good old fashioned still photos that we can view on our computer, phone, or tablet device.

What hides under the pasties being worn by Larissa Reis?

What hides under the pasties being worn by Larissa Reis?

Back in the day all we had were fitness/bodybuilding magazines that we tried to purchase inconspicuously at the grocery store and hide under the bed away from prying eyes. Thank God for the Internet.

Recently, I had a bit of an epiphany while scrolling through a Tumblr blog dedicated to muscular and fit women. This blogger also posts photos of “normal” women – meaning they’re gorgeous but gorgeous within mainstream parameters. I began to notice something strange when seeing images of muscular women juxtaposed with images of non-muscular women.

The muscular women seemed to be more alive.

That’s an odd observation considering all the women featured on this blog are, uh living and breathing. No dead bodies posed to look like they’re still alive. But when you take the time and actually look at images of female bodybuilders next to images of non-muscular women, the contrast is both jarring and difficult to explain.

Their body language is nearly identical. Most modeling shots consist of the subjects (or “talent,” using industry parlance) sitting on couches, standing around, laying down provocatively, leaning against a wall or large object, engaging in a suggestive activity, or contorting their bodies in weird ways. Sometimes the subject looks directly at the camera, other times they pretend like there’s nobody in the environment with them. While FBBs will frequently pose for photos of them at the gym doing what they do best, for the most part what their non-muscular counterparts do they will do also.

So, what exactly do I mean when I say that female bodybuilders seem to exist in “still motion” when photographed?

More old school images: Laura Creavalle.

More old school images: Laura Creavalle.

In short, there’s something inherently and inexplicably “active” about a muscular woman. Her muscles give her a sense of liveliness that isn’t present in women who aren’t muscular. A photograph of an FBB conveys energy, vivacity, and dynamism like nothing else. This isn’t true of all photos of female bodybuilders, of course. Ones taken in poor light, terrible conditions, or on a grainy cell phone camera obviously aren’t nearly as good as ones taken by a professional photographer (which goes to show you that the world still needs professional photographers, online photo “filters” be damned). I’m only referring to images that are produced with a certain degree of artistic integrity.

A lot of this has to do with how a woman earns her muscles to begin with. She didn’t get big and buff sitting on her couch eating potato chips and watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory. She earned her impressive physique through sweat, labor, supplementation, dieting, and making wholesale lifestyle changes. So because of this, when we see a still photo of a female bodybuilder, even if she’s not doing anything explicitly active, we know she leads a highly active lifestyle when she’s away from shutterbugs.

She’s constantly lifting, running, stretching, eating, cooking, drinking protein shakes, working, lifting, jogging, eating, lifting some more, eating a bit more, cooking more food that she’ll eat later, and lifting.

Did I mention that female bodybuilders lift weights on occasion?

The point is that female bodybuilders seem to be more active because they are more physically active than the average adult. So it makes sense that their proactive and demanding lives would transfer over to photographs taken of them, even if they’re just sitting down on a chaise or lying down in a frilly white bed. When you see her posing for the camera, you know in the back of your mind that she wouldn’t be in that position in the first place if it weren’t for her impressive muscularity.

That is, you wouldn’t be completely enraptured by her beauty unless she were as muscular as she is. She could very well be quite beautiful even if she didn’t have muscles, but it’s not the same thing. Not even close. A female bodybuilder’s muscles is what takes center stage when we look at her.

Sharon Madderson definitely jumps off the screen.

Sharon Madderson definitely jumps off the screen.

Yes, we know that muscular women are active in their everyday lives. That’s obvious. But that still doesn’t fully explain why they look like they’re ready to jump off the celluloid and into your lap.

Another reason is how surreal it is to actually look at a woman with big muscles. For as many years as I’ve been appreciating female bodybuilders, I still sometimes do a “double take” when I see a picture of a muscular woman unexpectedly. For example, not too long ago a friend of mine shared on Facebook an article talking about HIIT – or high intensity interval training. I don’t know whether this method is best for burning fat and staying in shape, but that’s not the point. The point is that the article featured a picture of a beautiful young lady with gorgeous curvy muscles. I was taken aback. My heart fluttered a bit. I felt a surge of energy run through my core.

Why did I suddenly react this way? I’ve spent countless hours watching and looking at hundreds of muscular women. Why did this “out of the blue” experience cause me to react as if I had just seen my first ever female bodybuilder?

It’s because it was unexpected and out of context. When I’m searching my usual lineup of blogs for pictures of beautiful muscular women, I know what I’m going to get. But if I stumble upon an image of one accidentally, it’s as though someone just socked me in the face. I think this is because at the end of the day, no matter how many hours I spend looking at images of muscle-bound women, my brain is preconditioned to produce a strong reaction whenever I witness them. I’m socialized to think of muscular women as being “abnormal” no matter how normalized they seem to be to me.

This is why muscular women appear to be suspended in still motion when photographed. My brain subconsciously tells me that this is unusual and therefore I should react accordingly. No amount of zombie movies will actually prepare you for a real-life zombie invasion. You can read all the post-apocalyptic themed fiction you want; if World War III is ever right around the corner (don’t be too surprised!) you’ll have no idea what to do next.

Likewise, you can watch thousands of hours of female muscle videos and meet dozens of FBBs for muscle worship sessions. Still, your mind will intuitively tell you that the sight of a woman with muscles is strange. Strange, bizarre, peculiar, irregular, atypical, odd. That’s not a product of how you personally view muscular women; rather it’s a product of the lack of muscular women in our society.

Anything that’s rare will stand out when it happens. Throwing a perfect game is so unusual that many baseball aficionados could probably name at least a dozen pitchers who’ve done it throughout the game’s history. And when it happens, it’s huge news. The same goes for muscular women. No matter how familiar you are with seeing FBBs, it’s still a memorable experience when it happens outside of normal parameters.

Unlike most amateur photographs, modeling shots are intended to capture the essence of the subject, not the moment. What a model is actually doing is not nearly as important as what they look like doing it. The same goes for FBBs who pose for model shots, but our reactions to seeing them are remarkably different. We don’t just see who they are. We also see their accomplishments, hopes, dreams, successes, aspirations, and passions. A muscular woman doesn’t just stand around and look pretty. She invades her space. She communicates a clear message to the viewer. She owns the frame. She doesn’t want you to just look at her, she wants you to react viscerally toward her.

See the difference?

Back in the glory days of the 90s, I’d surf the Internet and ogle photos of Pamela Anderson, Cindy Crawford, and Anna Nicole Smith. As an inexperienced teenager with raging hormones, I was introducing myself to a whole new world that I’d never known before: female beauty. It was an epic time of discovery. But even back then, I never experienced any sort of spiritual connection with the gorgeous ladies popping up on my computer screen. As odd as it sounds, I sort of feel that way with photos of muscular women. Sort of.

The lovely Elena Oana Hreapca rocking a sexy silver dress.

The lovely Elena Oana Hreapca rocking a sexy silver dress.

It’s as though photos of FBBs exist for purposes that go beyond that of normal photos of beautiful women. Cindy Crawford wants you to appreciate her natural beauty. Debi Laszewski wants to challenge your notions of femininity, gender roles, social stereotypes, and human biology. I don’t think these thoughts literally go through Debi’s mind as she’s posing for the camera, but that’s the sense I get when I look at her flawless visage. Pamela Anderson inspired hundreds of thousands of teenage boys – myself included – to masturbate in the privacy of their bedrooms. Cory Everson may have inspired similar reactions (though on a much smaller scale), but what she’s done that Pamela couldn’t is transform the way you view humanity: Women can be as buff as men – and look fabulous at the same time!

Muscular women can do that, even though many of them don’t intend to. They allude a degree of power and influence that most of them – including fans like us – don’t entirely comprehend. Hell, I’ve been writing about muscular women for nearly five years and even I continue to struggle to articulate this phenomena into words. Our love for female bodybuilders isn’t just rooted in good old fashioned lust. It’s also explained by our intrinsic desire to make sense out of a hectic and chaotic world. Muscular women, simply put, create chaos. How we adjust to that chaos is up to us on an individual level.

So that must be it. There’s the kicker. Muscular women create chaos in our brains. They cause our imaginations to spin out of control. They challenge our beliefs. They unleash our hidden impulses. They awaken our basest desires. They grapple our minds and refuse to let go, even for a moment. And this is something we don’t try to stop because we love every single minute of it. Isn’t that something?

Female bodybuilders appear to be in still motion because they’re perpetually active, even when they’re captured in a lifeless photograph. They activate our hearts, minds, and souls like nothing else can. In this respect, a photograph doesn’t just capture a single moment in time. It captures many moments, both those that have come and those that are yet to be.

As the old cliché goes, a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. But not just words that immediately come to mind, but also words that are yet to be written or conceived. When we stare at a still image of a beautiful muscular woman, we’re not just staring at her. We’re staring at ourselves. And others. And everything around us. All at the same time.

A Female Muscle Fan Never Forgets the Moment When He or She Finally “Got It”

A legend of the world of female bodybuilding: Cory Everson.

A legend of the world of female bodybuilding: Cory Everson.

You never forget your first time.

The first time you ever had sex? Nah, I’m talking about the first time you “got it.”

And by “got it,” I mean the exact moment when you truly understood why muscular women are so unbelievably awesome.

This “ah ha” moment is not just an epiphany, but a wholesale perspective shift of how you view men, women, beauty, sexuality, relationships, biology, and your own hidden desires. Typically known as a “paradigm shift” in academic circles, it’s more than just the moment you realized it was Professor Plum in the Library with the Revolver while playing a lackluster game of Clue with your grandparents. It’s the moment you decided to question every assumption you used to hold about human sexuality and start to ask better and more informed ones.

What exactly do I mean? Let me explain in further detail.

The first time you see a photo or a video clip of a muscular woman is not necessarily the first time you “get it.” I can speak for myself when I say the lightbulb did not turn on instantaneously. It took time. I will admit the first time I remember seeing a picture of a female bodybuilder I was sort of disgusted. It took me aback and forced me to do a double-take. I didn’t say anything out loud, but in my head I knew what I was seeing was both jarring and strangely intriguing.

Did I love the experience or hate the experience? Well, it’s hard to say. Neither, really.

I didn’t realize the exact power and allure of muscular women until much later (adulthood, to be exact), but the seeds were sown. But alas, I still had not experienced my Great Female Muscle Awakening. That happened in college. I’ve summarized my own personal history of female muscle fetishism before, but I’ll briefly recap it again. In short, during my freshman year in college I wanted to avoid the dreaded “Freshman 15” where new college kids who’ve just moved away from home tend to gain upwards to 15 pounds due to poor dieting, excessive drinking, and other shenanigans. Being away from Mom and Dad’s bird nest has consequences, after all.

So, I went out of my way and researched how to best exercise at the gym and avoid gaining extra weight. My school had a modest yet effective fitness center (of course, they completely renovate it the moment after I graduate!) that I would visit a few times a week. I took a weightlifting class in high school two years earlier but figured I should brush up on exercise techniques so I don’t accidentally injure myself.

YouTube and Google Videos were still in their infancy (yes, I’m getting old), but online workout videos did exist nevertheless. Initially, I only watched exercise instructional videos posted by guys. Then, after searching more and more, I started to stumble upon videos posted by women (or videos featuring women). One video in particular struck me.

It’s grainy, embarrassingly pixilated and looks like it was shot with a camcorder from the 1980s. Perhaps it was. But it featured Lisa Marie Bickels, a low-level competitive female bodybuilder, former U.S. Marine, and personal trainer. The video unto itself was not remarkable, well produced, or intended to be well produced. However, it left an indelible impact on me. I had seen photos and a limited number of videos of muscular women before, but this one produced my “ah ha” moment.

No skimpy dress will get in the way of showing off Lisa Marie Bickels' incredible body.

No skimpy dress will get in the way of showing off Lisa Marie Bickels’ incredible body.

In it, Lisa is doing a set of triceps pull-downs at the gym. After finishing, she poses for the camera and flexes her pumped arm. You can clearly see her ripped triceps running down her beautiful arm. I did some further research on Miss Bickels on her website and it then hit me.

She’s beautiful. And powerful. And independent. She’s willing to show off her hard-earned body and I cannot do anything but sit here and stare helplessly.

Whoa. Now I get it.

Lisa was the first FBB I ever saw who was young, undeniably feminine, muscular, and fiercely powerful (both as a person and as an object of beauty). Of course, in the decade that would follow I would view countless more videos of other FBBs doing similar things, but you never forget your first time. Ever.

Like losing your virginity, the first time you ever had sex wasn’t necessarily the best sex you ever had. It was probably awkward. Or painful. You may not have known what you were doing. Maybe you were sweating profusely. Maybe you were drunk, stoned, or nervous as hell. Regardless, it’s still noteworthy because…well, it was your first time. That’s important!

Likewise, Lisa Marie Bickels isn’t necessarily the best or most accomplished female bodybuilder in the world. Nor is she the most famous or best shining example of the beauty of strong women. But she opened my eyes to a whole new world. For that, this hardcore U.S. Marine deserves my respect.

The second part of my “awakening” would happen once I became acquainted with Karen Zaremba. Oh boy, Karen is a thing of beauty! Shortly after discovering Miss Bickels, I inevitably also stumbled upon videos of Karen Zaremba, a 40-something female bodybuilder and mother of two children. Karen is the flip side of the coin to Lisa. Karen is equally gorgeous, feminine, muscular (though not hypermuscular), and enthralling. But she is an older woman. At the time, Lisa looked to be in her mid-20s, which was not far off from where I was as an 18-year-old freshman. But Karen was a game-changer.

How can your perspective not change after discovering Karen Zaremba?

How can your perspective not change after discovering Karen Zaremba?

There is, of course, a certain acronym used to describe beautiful women who are also mothers. Out of respect for these wonderful and accomplished women, I refuse to use it. I hope the rest of you do the same. It’s crude, misogynist, and incredibly disrespectful. Don’t use it. Please.

That being said, Karen is without question a gorgeous older woman who instantly cast a spell upon this teenage boy. For the first time, I realized that muscles are the ultimate anti-aging remedy. Normally, middle aged women do not pique the interest of impressionable teenage boys with raging hormones. But Karen did. At the time, I considered her the Most Beautiful Woman I’ve Ever Seen in My Life. Other women would later replace Karen for that title, but a decade ago she was #1.

My discovery of Lisa Marie Bickels and Karen Zaremba set off a firestorm that would result in me starting this blog a few years after graduating from college. I would learn about hundreds of more competitive bodybuilders, fitness models, and “normal” women for whom lifting is more than just a casual hobby. But none of that would have happened without my fateful “awakening” as an 18-year-old kid.

As I mentioned before, that wasn’t the exact moment I first discovered muscular women. There was the cover of Red Sonja (1985) at a video rental store that made me stop dead in my tracks and stare. I’ve never seen this cheesy 1980s action flick starring Brigitte Nielsen and Arnold Schwarzenegger, nor do I ever have the inclination to. But regardless, the cover of the VHS tape caught my attention as a little boy.

Then there was the photo spread of Cory Everson in the 1999 issue of The Guinness Book of World Records. That definitely caught my attention. I reacted to this photo of Miss Everson with a mind-blowing mixture of disgust and arousal. Yes, I will admit that initially I looked upon Cory with repulsion. I’m not proud to admit this, but honesty is the best policy, is it not? However, I cannot deny that a small part of me was captivated by her. I may not have totally liked what I saw, but I could not look away. I spent many hours secretly gazing at this photo in private and wondering all sorts of things about her.

I also grew up watching WWF (now the WWE) and seeing women like Chyna (may she rest in peace), Sable, Jacqueline,  Trish Stratus, Debra, and other prance around, beat each other to a pulp, and occasionally show their male counterparts who’s boss. I also grew up watching GoldenEye (1995) on VHS and getting an electric thrill up my spine whenever Famke Janssen’s Xenia Onnatop flashed onto the screen. If episodes of “Xena: Warrior Princess” came on TV, yeah…I’d watch it in the basement without my family finding out!

May I squeeze Charmaine Patterson's bicep?

May I squeeze Charmaine Patterson’s bicep?

So my experience with strong/powerful/muscular women did not start as a college freshman. It began much earlier. But I didn’t “get it” until Miss Bickels and Miss Zaremba entered my life.

So, what exactly did I finally “get?” I have two major observations:

One, I finally saw a superb example of muscularity and traditional femininity working in tandem together like never before.

I didn’t find the photo of Cory Everson arousing, even though I intuitively knew there was something exceptional about it. I did find Famke Janssen and Trish Stratus immensely sexy, but neither of them were very muscular. I knew muscular women existed and I definitely knew beautiful non-muscular women existed, but I never saw the two combined until I encountered Lisa, Karen, and others.

Sometimes, that’s all it takes. It’s not that you’re blind to reality, but rather you just need to see all the elements come together in order for you to believe that it’s possible. As a young teenager I probably knew that a muscular woman could be sexy. I just never thought much about it. It’s not that I doubted this; it just rarely crossed my mind in the first place.

It never occurred to me that a gorgeous woman with muscles can become even more gorgeous. Her muscles can become a complementary asset that accentuates the natural beauty she already has. Her muscles enhance her good looks. I’ve obviously seen beautiful women before. I’ve also seen muscular women before. But it wasn’t until I saw the perfect mixture of the two that my perspective started to change.

Two, I finally realized that muscles can transform a normal-looking woman into an Irresistible Sex Goddess.

I too fell into the trap once upon a time ago that female bodybuilders were sort of freaks of nature who should be admired for their accomplishments but not necessarily seen as objects of desire. Yes, I was also once young and dumb! But I know better now thanks to finally seeing the light.

In addition to realizing that a woman with muscles can be both beautiful and feminine at the same time, I also came to the epiphany that a woman who isn’t considered naturally attractive can transform herself into an epic muscle goddess just by putting on bulk at the gym. I won’t name specific names, but we can probably all think of “homely” women who are hot as hell because their thick legs, bulging biceps, and wide shoulders make them completely irresistible.

Without muscles, these women aren’t much to look at. This sounds like an insult, but it’s not. It’s just a simple observation and a testament to the power of muscularity.

As women who have “earned” their beauty, we applaud them for maximizing who they are as people (not just physically, but also mentally and spiritually) thanks to hard work, sacrifice, and the will to improve day-by-day. Nobody handed them their muscles on a silver platter. They had to expend buckets of sweat for years on end in order to achieve their remarkable physiques.

I now appreciate the beauty of the tall blonde goddess Shawn Tan.

I now appreciate the beauty of the tall blonde goddess Shawn Tan.

Once you have your “ah ha” moment, you feel silly for not realizing this sooner. You feel foolish for intentionally shutting yourself off from a whole category of human beauty. It’s like a poor person living underneath an ocean of oil or a gold mine. They move to a new city, disgruntled and searching for new economic opportunities. A year or two later, the new property owner randomly stumbles upon a suspicious leak of smelly black fluid seeping from the ground.

And voilà! He or she is now rich and you’re still adjusting to your new surroundings as poor as you were when you left. Shucks!

That’s sort of how I felt when I first discovered my love for muscular women. I felt like I was limiting my scope of the world. I felt like I had a narrow definition of “beauty” that did not include a fraction of what humanity had to offer. But now that my eyes have been opened, I now appreciate women like Annie Rivieccio and Shawn Tan as I did not before. People who do not share my love for these gorgeous ladies are truly missing out!

The reason why you never forget your “first time” is because of how beautiful the experience is of enjoying female bodybuilders. Unlike the virginity comparison, even before you ever start having sex you know that sex is (supposed) to be a pleasurable and amazing experience. But before getting into female bodybuilders, I had no idea about the potential these women had to offer. I could never imagine the world of female muscle could be so incredible and stupefying because it never occurred to me it could be so incredible and stupefying. This is another key aspect of our “awakening.” I knew even as a little boy that sex is a big deal. I had no clue FBBs were also a big deal. See what I mean?

Additionally, not only do you finally “get it,” but you now have the opportunity to indulge in this love over and over again. Those of us who love FBBs and fit women understand what it’s like to enjoy them. The tingling that goes down your spine as you watch a sexy woman deadlift or squat 400 pounds cannot be accurately described. I don’t know if I can do it any justice.

But it doesn’t matter. You know a beautiful experience when you are privileged to participate in one. The Female Bodybuilder High we get is difficult to put into words, but it is indeed a tangible thing. It’s very real, and its power has not diminished in the past 12 or so years of my life.

You never forget the moment you got it. Not because you regret your previous ambivalence toward female bodybuilders, but because you can now celebrate your newfound love for them. Our worlds are now brighter because of this awareness.

Female bodybuilders are beautiful beyond words. The fact we cannot put it into words is telling.