You Can’t Please Everybody: The Difficulty a Female Bodybuilder Faces in Maintaining the “Perfect” Balance

Dayana Cadeau may not be able to please everybody, but she can sure please me!

Dayana Cadeau may not be able to please everybody, but she can sure please me!

There are some people in this world who need to please others. And not just please them every so often; they have this burning desire to please everybody every time with everything they do.

This, of course, is an impossible task. But that doesn’t stop certain people from trying to do so with all their might.

Call it insecurity. Call it a psychological complex. Call it irrational. Or you can chalk it up to good business sense. Being a bodybuilder isn’t just a lifestyle. It’s a business venture. Like all business ventures, success isn’t guaranteed, nor is the formula for success set in stone permanently. In our ever-changing market of goods and services (which is becoming more internationally-driven as the years go on), what works today won’t work ten years from now; just as what worked ten years ago isn’t the same as what works today.

The same is true for how a female bodybuilder has to promote herself to the public. In decades past, there were more “traditional” routes to how she could achieve financial success. Competitions were still fairly lucrative and endorsement deals were there for the taking. The money in it wasn’t always reliable or plentiful, but you knew where it was if you wanted it.

Today, things are much different. Big, brawny female bodybuilders aren’t given the opportunities they once were. They aren’t becoming extinct by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s hard to imagine the glory years of the 1970s and 80s returning any time soon.

Jill St. Laurent is a true saint in my book.

Jill St. Laurent is a true saint in my book.

So here’s the fundamental dilemma: The general public – and whether this assertion if fair or not can be up for debate – tends to gravitate toward people who fit “one size fits all” molds. If we’re talking about strong women, they want these women to fit all these criteria:

  • Tough, yet approachable
  • Strong, yet vulnerable
  • Muscular, yet traditionally feminine
  • Accomplished, yet still physically beautiful
  • Intelligent, yet not condescending
  • Individualistic, yet still marketable
  • Talented, yet unintimidating
  • A woman, yet not defined by her gender
  • Speaks her mind, yet doesn’t ruffle any feathers
  • Dedicated to her craft, yet still has time to do “woman” things like get married and raise children

These hideous double standards are obviously not felt by the majority of male athletes. Whether the typical sports fan would ever admit this or not, this is how we treat our female athletes. In many cases, they feel this way without even explicitly knowing it! Talk about having certain attitudes ingrained into our psyche from birth.

Nobody can chain down Fabiola Boulanger!

Nobody can chain down Fabiola Boulanger!

If a female bodybuilder were to be one of those types who needs to please everybody every single time, she’ll go crazy and would tear all her hair out. Thankfully, the vast majority of FBBs are mentally strong and ignore useless nonsense like that. But this illustrates the predicament that comes with the territory of working in the industry. Female bodybuilders cannot possibly please everyone. The so-called “perfect balance” of being someone who can appeal to all audiences is a myth. Not even the most popular celebrities in our society are universally popular with all people. Singers, actors, TV personalities, writers, sports heroes, etc. Everyone has their fair share of critics. This isn’t a reflection of them, however. This is more of a reflection of the diverse tastes, opinions, and aesthetic standards we have available to us.

So how does one survive in a business where appeal is the name of the game? After all, if enough people don’t like your brand, your earning power will quickly diminish. Blockbuster Video no longer exists because Netflix (and, ahem, online pirating) replaced it as the consumer’s top choice for purchasing cinematic entertainment. Therefore, FBBs cannot completely ignore the importance of mass appeal.

What is she to do? There are two routes:

  1. Appeal to as many different audiences as possible
  2. Appeal to a very specific audience and take full advantage of this niche market

One could argue an FBB would best be served if she pursued route #2. Non-bodybuilders like soccer players, tennis players, basketball players, MMA fighters, and prominent fitness celebrities are more likely to find financial success if she dips her toes in route #1. But this could very well be wrong.

To an extent, appealing to a niche audience is what FBBs do currently. In many respects this is their only viable option to staying financially secure in today’s world. This isn’t a criticism of the “Female Bodybuilding Business Model.” This is just an observation of what actually works.

Ever heard of the “80/20 Rule?” Also known as the “Pareto principle,” in the business world it states that in general, 80 percent of your business revenue will come from 20 percent of your customers. If you open up a coffee shop in the middle of a busy downtown business district, your most valuable clients will be the people who buy an iced latte or white chocolate mocha from you five days a week. The spunky happy-go-lucky traveler who’s in town temporarily to visit his in-laws and decides to stop by your establishment only one time isn’t. That guy may be a totally nice person, but his value to your business is limited. Your repeat customers who loyally visit your shop on a consistent basis are way more important in the long-term.

Brandi Mae Akers posing in a sexy see-through dress.

Brandi Mae Akers posing in a sexy see-through dress.

For an entrepreneurial female bodybuilder, she must take heed of the 80/20 Rule. She may not have the largest number of clients available to her, but she can have a smaller group of fans who will follower her to the ends of the Earth. They may be small in size, but their return on investment (ROI) may be significant. One person who will buy tickets to a bodybuilding competition, pay you $500 for a muscle worship session, and purchase customized swag through your website is more valuable than 20 people who know your name but don’t want to have anything to do with you.

This small group of fans will adore you for who you are. They aren’t disgusted by your large size, shrunken breasts, deepened voice, and blunt personality. In fact, they love you because of all those things! Sadly, some FBBs feel like they need to get “smaller” in order to survive in the industry. That’s sad and hopefully they choose to look the way they want to look regardless of what other people think. But the pressure of being an elite athlete who remains unambiguously “feminine” persists whether we like it or not.

However, that doesn’t mean an FBB should be compelled to sell out who she is as a human being in order to earn a steady income. If she wants to squat so much her legs grow to the size of tree trunks, then she has every right to do that. If there are people out there who want her to stop squatting so damn much because she’ll end up “looking like a man,” here’s a pithy comeback for them:

Go fuck yourself.

That’s right! An FBB doesn’t have to be that crude, but she can be if the situation calls for it. The truth is, not everyone in the general population appreciates thick strong legs on a woman. But for those of us who know who Shannon Courtney is, a small but significant portion of us do in fact appreciate the finer things in life. Miss Courtney’s legs are definitely in the category of the “Finer Things in Life,” right up there with 50-year-old scotch whiskey, the cinema of François Truffaut, Lamborghinis, and Thai cuisine.

Shannon Courtney’s legs might be the best illustration of the 80/20 Rule. A vast number of us would appreciate her hard work and provide her a “you go girl!” compliment. A smaller number of us would willingly pay her $300 for the right to touch her legs. I have no idea if Shannon offers these kinds of services, but that’s not the point. If she wanted to, she could make a healthy buck on the side. For many female bodybuilders, they actually make a living wage offering customers the ability to touch their hard-earned bodies.

Shannon Courtney - definitely one of the finer things in life.

Shannon Courtney – definitely one of the finer things in life.

In order to survive in today’s interconnected world, a female bodybuilder doesn’t have to appeal to large audiences. She only has to find a specific niche and saturate that market to the best of her ability. And there is no doubt that such a niche market exists. It may not be obvious or widely talked about, but there are plenty of guys and gals in this world who share a keen interest in muscular women.

These are the people who matter to an FBB. Not the rest who are openly disgusted by her life’s choices. An FBB shouldn’t waste her time trying to please people who don’t already appreciate her beautiful muscles. Trying to convert them will be an exercise in futility. Instead, she should focus her attention on cultivating meaningful relationships with clients who already love her muscles. That will reap much more ROI.

Thankfully, most female bodybuilders are already doing this! This essay isn’t telling them anything they don’t know already. But it can serve as a reminder to the rest of us that living life as an FBB can be arduous, frustrating, and unpredictable. There are outside forces working against you. The deck is not stacked in your favor. But all is not lost. There are avenues to success that are proven to work on a practical level. The challenge is tapping into those avenues and feeling confident, supported, and empowered to do so.

Indeed, you cannot please everybody. This requires either maintaining the (impossible) “perfect balance” that appeals to all audiences … or diluting your product. The first option is impractical and the second option forces you to compromise your integrity. Either one stinks. So your third option is probably your best option: Screw what the masses think and embrace what your dedicated fans think.

And let’s be honest. Not even your most dedicated fans will appreciate everything you do 100 percent of the time. That’s totally fine. But you know they’re in your corner, cheering for you every step of the way. They may not make up large numbers, but their proud loyalty amplifies their voices ten-fold.

Top 10 Misconceptions About Having a Female Muscle Fetish

The fabulous Fabiola Boulanger.

The fabulous Fabiola Boulanger.

I’d like to think that one day it’ll become more acceptable to being attracted to muscular women. After all, I do sense a somewhat significant backlash against the “skinny is beautiful” aesthetic that we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing.

I’m also willing to bet the recent debate about healthcare will also spur some further dialogue about the health of our country and what it means to be healthy. Is starving yourself in order to achieve that rail thin look good for your body? The answer, of course, is a resounding NO.

Maybe someday we’ll actually see more muscular women in everyday society once we get past the irrational concept that women can’t lift weights in the gym like guys do. Face it: You all know what I’m talking about. Which demographic almost always dominates the weight room at your gym? Men. This isn’t even up for debate.

So, once we see more ladies pump iron in the weight room, perhaps this will lead more and more straight guys (and non-straight guys, to be fair) to openly admit that a women with muscle isn’t gross, but beautiful. Is it so strange to finally admit something that was once “taboo” the moment it becomes mainstream? I would hope not.

But seeing muscular women walk down the streets in droves is far from a reality and probably will never become commonplace (though one does hope and pray!) in my lifetime. Nevertheless, let’s delve into ten common misconceptions about having a female muscle fetish that we should clear up in anticipation of a complete social paradigm shift in how we define “sexy.”

I'd go to the gym more often if women like Ericca Kern were hanging around the weight room.

I’d go to the gym more often if women like Ericca Kern were hanging around the weight room.

1. Straight men who are attracted to muscular women are secretly gay.

There’s this belief out there that straight men who love a female with brawn is somehow living a lie. He’s not really straight, but instead a fabulously gay man ready to burst out of the closet with two chiseled female bodybuilders sitting on his shoulders.

If my understanding of sexuality is correct, gay men are attracted to OTHER MEN, not women. I’m heterosexual and have no desire to be intimate with a guy. I do, however, have many fantasies about being intimate with women like Gayle Moher, Tazzie Colomb, Ericca Kern and Angela Salvagno. I’m attracted to these women (and scores of others) because they’re beautiful women; regardless if their beauty is or is not commonly accepted among the general population.

That’s correct. They’re WOMEN who are BEAUTIFUL by standards that happen to be outside of the norm. My personal standards for female beauty are my own. I’m not saying you should agree with me, but you should accept this fixation of mine and move on with your life.

Sound good?

Great!

I could write a whole essay describing the beauty of Denise Masino. I just might...

I could write a whole essay describing the beauty of Denise Masino. I just might…

2. Having a female muscle fetish also means you’re into BDSM.

BDSM, for those of you who don’t know what this means, is an acronym for Bondage, Discipline (it could also be Domination) and Sadomasochism. In short, this means chains, whips, being tied up, tying up someone else, spanking, role playing, domination, submission, safe words, leather outfits, consensual pain, pleasure though pain, pleasure through risqué social relationships, pleasure through power, pleasure through the lack of power, paddles, rope, orgasm control, dungeons, anal plugs, kinky toys, blindfolds and a whole host of other elements.

You get the idea, right? Think “50 Shades of Grey,” if you’ve ever heard of that before.

Hell, at this point who hasn’t?

While many female bodybuilders often engage in BDSM activities outside of their bodybuilding careers (being a professional bodybuilder, unfortunately, isn’t a very lucrative business), there is no direct link between being having a female muscle fetish and being into the D/s subculture.

Please don’t get me wrong: I’m not judging those who are into that sort of thing. In fact, I believe that whatever you’re into is your own business and no one else’s. What happens between consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes is not for us to judge. So…I am not saying all of this because I want to distance myself from DBSM culture.

Rather, you can be attracted to an FBB and not want her to tie you up, spank you with a paddle and call you dirty names while she makes you do her bidding. Your lust for her can be very “vanilla,” just as if you had a crush on the girl next door.

Except this girl happens to have steel thighs, bulging biceps, wide pecs and rock hard abs!

But this all brings me to my next point…

Would I want Tina Lockwood's massive thighs around my neck? No, but don't knock it unless you've tried it, right?

Would I want Tina Lockwood’s massive thighs around my neck? No, but don’t knock it unless you’ve tried it, right?

3. A guy with a female muscle fetish wants a female bodybuilder to physically dominate him.

Nor is this a true statement. Speaking from my personal life, all my fantasies about being with a beautiful female bodybuilder has nothing to do with her physically dominating me.

I would love nothing more than to make love to a woman like Lisa Cross. She doesn’t have to wrestle me, sit on me, grapple me, pick me up, or pin me to the ground till I beg her to let me breathe. A simple evening with her involving candle light, a bottle of wine, fresh fruit and silky white bed sheets will suffice.

Seriously. That would be awesome.

While many guys who love female muscle are also into D/s role playing, I want to make a point that not every guy fantasizes about the same thing. Just as most regular people have a diverse range of sexual fantasies, so do guys who love ladies with muscles. We’re no different, no freakier than you are. We’re just into a different sort of woman.

Contrary to popular belief, I still find women like Kate Upton to be beautiful.

Contrary to popular belief, I still find women like Kate Upton to be beautiful.

4. A guy with a female muscle fetish isn’t attracted to “normal” looking women.

On the contrary, I find women of all types to be beautiful. When I was in high school, I had the biggest celebrity crush on Monica Bellucci, whom I thought was literally the most beautiful woman in the world.

Upon further review, there is little evidence to suggest that my assessment at the time was wrong. Even as a middle aged woman, Ms. Bellucci remains a supremely gorgeous creature. My high school-self had every rational reason to be enamored by this Italian Goddess.

Like most young men, I see beautiful women everywhere I look and frequently fantasize about being with them (guys think about sex every, what is it…seven seconds?). One young lady I particularly like at the moment is the polar opposite of a female bodybuilder: She’s small, petite and possesses absolutely no upper body strength. Kim Chizevsky could snap her like a twig if she wanted to. But I nevertheless find her supremely beautiful.

She has narrow hips, skinny legs, pale white skin and flat breasts. She’s half Asian but looks very much like she could be full. She’s smart, funny and shares a lot of the same interests as me. I’m very much in love with her, but unfortunately she doesn’t quite share the same mutual feelings (my confession of my love for her and her subsequent “friend-zoning” of me could make for a whole other blog post). Regardless, I think she’s one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met.

All this is to say that I’m also attracted to “normal” looking women. It’s not like guys who love muscular women find their less muscled counterparts to be repulsive. We don’t expect every woman to look like Lauren Powers or Lora Ottenad, so it’s unreasonable to assume if you don’t look like them, we don’t care. It’s not like that at all.

Having a female muscle fetish isn’t a one-track deal. It’s just one tool in the tool shed, so to speak. Of course women like Megan Fox and Kate Upton also catch our eye. But ladies like Deidre Pagnanelli and Monica Brant do as well. That’s all there is to it.

If being attracted to a woman like Gayle Moher means I'm unhealthy, then I'm one sick puppy!

If being attracted to a woman like Gayle Moher means I’m unhealthy, then I’m one sick puppy!

5. Having a female muscle fetish is a “condition” that’s unhealthy.

This is a misconception that especially gets me angry. I don’t know how common this belief is, but I do know that a small percentage of folks out there might think this.

Clinically speaking, the proper term is sthenolagnia, which means “sexual arousal from displaying strength or muscles.” This isn’t a condition. It’s just a kink. Of course, any interest that goes too far can be unhealthy. When a fetish becomes an obsession, you can be prone to adopting some very unhealthy behaviors.

Wasting money you can’t afford to spend to satisfy your kink. Alienating your friends and family. Breaking the law. Endangering your physical being and psyche. All of these things can be associated with a fetish gone too far.

But this definitely is not normal for people with a harmless and unusual fetish.

To be fair, I should say that the word “fetish” can be misleading. In some definitions, the word “fetish” implies that someone needs that particular object in order to get sexually aroused and cannot get aroused otherwise. In other words, if feet are your thing, nothing will turn you on except for feet and feet only.

This definition might be a bit extreme, but like I mentioned before, being attracted to muscular women doesn’t mean I can’t be attracted to non-muscular women. There are lots of non-FBBs who strike my fancy.

So there is nothing unhealthy about having a female muscle fetish. It doesn’t affect my personal or professional life. My relationships with my friends and family aren’t strained because of it. My relationship with women also isn’t suddenly off-the-wall because of this particular fandom. I’m perfectly normal. And many other guys who share my kink are as well.

Growing up, I considered Monica Bellucci to be the most beautiful woman on the planet. After looking at photos like this, I can see why.

Growing up, I considered Monica Bellucci to be the most beautiful woman on the planet. After looking at photos like this, I can see why.

6. A female muscle fetish is caused by unresolved childhood trauma.

Can my love for female bodybuilders be explained because of some unresolved childhood trauma? Was Mommy overbearing, despotic and cruel? Was Daddy weak, complacent and effeminate? Could this be the cause of my lust for strong women?

I’m no psychologist, but I’m guessing there’s absolutely no link between liking female muscle and having a troubled childhood. But it does seem rather tempting to make a Freudian connection between having a strong mother and gravitating toward strong women as an adult.

I’m willing to bet there’s some truth that someone who was spanked as a child (by mom, perhaps) might develop a fetish for being spanked as a grownup. But I have absolutely no empirical evidence to back me up.

Alas, I can only speak from personal experience that my attraction to female muscle is completely independent from my upbringing.

Then again, it’s hard to self-analyze, isn’t it?

Maybe I should see a shrink after all…

I don't think my attraction for Gina Davis will ever go away.

I don’t think my attraction for Gina Davis will ever go away.

7. A female muscle fetish is temporary and will eventually go away.

Sticking with this theme of a female muscle fetish being a “condition,” is it like the common cold and it will eventually go away with plenty of bed rest, cough drops and chicken soup?

I highly doubt it. This is not some sort of temporary fad that I’ll get into and eventually move on from as if it were a trend diet. The South Beach Diet, Atkin’s Diet and the recently chic Paleo Diet may come and go, but I don’t think the love for female muscle will ever go away.

If you browse chat forums that discuss muscle worship, wrestling sessions and the love for FBBs, many of these folks talk about loving female muscle for many years, sometimes dating back to childhood. It’s like a light going off: Everyone who loves muscular women can remember the exact moment they first discovered this love. Whether it was pursuing through a fitness magazine, catching a glimpse of a female bodybuilder on television or seeing a strong female character in a comic book, everyone with a female muscle fetish can share their personal testimony of “how it all started.”

This is why I very much doubt the belief that this kink will simply run its course after a new fetish is magically “discovered.”

Unfortunately, not all female bodybuilders are as beautiful as Monica Brant.

Unfortunately, not all female bodybuilders are as beautiful as Monica Brant.

8. Guys who are attracted to female bodybuilders are attracted to ALL female bodybuilders.

There are lots of FBBs whom I find attractive. Katka Kyptova, Victoria Dominguez, Tina Lockwood (who retired from bodybuilding a while back), Colette Guimond, Amber DeLuca and scores of others are some of the most beautiful women I’ve ever laid eyes on.

However, this doesn’t mean I find every female bodybuilder attractive.

I hate to say it and sound sexist, but there are some FBBs who do indeed look “gross.” Whether it’s because of veins sticking out of their skin, “masculine” faces caused by an imbalance of hormones, or some other reason, there are some FBBs in this world that don’t even come close to turning me on. While I wholeheartedly reject the notion that female bodybuilders are disgusting because women shouldn’t have muscles, unfortunately (and it hurts me to say this) this is somewhat true for a select few.

Whew. There you go. I said it. Not every muscular woman looks sexy and beautiful. I hope I don’t offend anybody out there!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as the old saying goes. Generally speaking, we all have our standards for what we find aesthetically pleasing in a human being. Some folks fit in those categories, and others simply do not. We should try our best not to be judgmental about these sorts of things, but that doesn’t change the fact that some women (and men!) are naturally more beautiful than others.

I have nothing against FBBs whom I don’t find pleasant to look at. They have every right to sculpt their bodies into whatever shape they want. I just don’t need to find it attractive, necessarily.

To each his own, eh?

Sandra Faas is beautiful, regardless of what others might think!

Sandra Faas is beautiful, regardless of what others might think!

9. A female muscle fetish is misogynist because we’re objectifying a muscular woman.

I’m no feminist scholar, but I’m sure some folks out there might object to us guys with the hots for strong ladies because we’re treating them like sex objects instead of human beings.

This is one misconception that might, unfortunately, have a certain degree of truth. I suppose it’s not a stretch to say that a guy who likes the muscles on a woman is similar to a guy who likes a woman with fake breasts, artificially tanned skin and excessive Botox treatments. We like what we see instead of who she is as a person.

If we lust after a woman because of her looks, does this make us sexist? This is a whole other discussion that I’m not too keen on getting into right now. But here is what I can say with a certain degree of certainty: Guys who like muscular women probably aren’t typically going to be the sexist, misogynist pigs you see on Mad Men.

I say this because I think the hatred of female bodybuilders is more fueled by sexism than the love for female bodybuilders. While objectification under any circumstances is unacceptable, I’m willing to bet if there is a group of straight men out there who is less likely to be against a woman demonstrating her independence and bodily freedom, it would be guys with a female muscle fetish.

Personally, I think it’s awesome there are women out there who could care less about what society says and choose to pursue bodybuilding regardless. I’m all for someone striving to be the best they can be at what they do. The beauty about bodybuilding is that it’s a sport where, ultimately, you’re competing against yourself more so than against other people.

Think of it this way: Us guys who like strong ladies do so because we like the way they look. Fine. But there’s a hidden layer underneath this. We also like their will, tenacity and dedication to looking the way they do. Lots of guys are scared and intimated by a woman who’s not afraid to break stereotypes.

Guys like me aren’t.

The peerless Kim Chizevsky could care less if you think muscles aren't sexy on a woman. You go girl! Keep pumping those biceps!

The peerless Kim Chizevsky could care less if you think muscles aren’t sexy on a woman. You go girl! Keep pumping those biceps!

10. A female muscle fetish is rare.

My last point is another point that might be partly true. It’s very hard to say how many guys are actually attracted to muscular women. It is fair to say that the number of guys who are open about their attraction to muscular women is rare. I’ll give you that.

But how many guys (like myself) keep their love for strong lassies a secret? As we all know, it’s a taboo to openly admit this, so this could explain why we think it’s so rare. But is it actually more prevalent but kept underground because of the stigma attached to it?

Anything that’s considered “weird” ceases to become weird once it becomes more popular. I could list a million things that fit into this category. But as much as I love female muscle, I’d be very hesitant to openly admit this fetish in casual conversation with my friends. Complete strangers on the Internet? No problem! My best friends? Uh, no.

So is a female muscle fetish rare? Maybe, maybe not. I’m in no position to say either yay or nay.

But maybe it isn’t. Maybe there are a lot of men out there who wouldn’t hesitate to confess that a woman with muscles is way more sexy than a woman with a bony body if it weren’t so “strange.” Maybe the more we see muscular woman in public, the more willing guys would be to whisper to their buddies, “Hey, she’s pretty hot. And strong, too!”

Maybe, and bear with me here, if more guys admitted to liking a girl with a little bulk, more women would abandon ridiculous fad diets and do more bench presses. Starve yourself to get skinny? Screw that! Go to the gym instead and LIFT to your heart’s delight! If we want to see more women in the weight room, all we simply need to do is encourage them. Hmmmmm…

Is strong the new skinny? We can only hope so.

Or, at least, I can only hope so.