The Slayers of Men

Selma Labat is a true slayer of anyone who gets in her way.

A common way we frame female bodybuilders is through the archetype of “Slayers of Men.” Within this framework, female bodybuilders are strong independent women who are here to smash gender stereotypes, the so-called “patriarchy,” and the notion that women are destined to be the weaker sex.

This explains why FBBs are often described as queens and goddesses. They are conquerors, leaders, rulers, creators, destroyers, punishers, and decision-makers. This, of course, has more to do with our fantasies involving FBBs rather than how we actually view FBBs. There’s some overlap, but the “Female Bodybuilders as Slayers of Men” trope exists more in our imaginations than in our literal fears.

In real life, female bodybuilders aren’t anymore violent than normal women. Sure, they have the capacity to cause more bodily harm than most, but that’s not the same thing. I’d rather take a punch to the face from Sarah Paulson than Sarah Hayes, but either way neither of them mean any harm to me unless I pose a direct threat first. Which is unlikely.

It is true that the mere existence of female bodybuilders challenges what we’ve previously thought about gender roles and biology – and this fact cannot be underestimated. But there is a big difference between admitting that “women can become stronger than men if they work hard enough” versus “a man ceases to be a man once a woman is able to lift more than him at the gym.” The former is a statement of fact. The latter is a subtle (or not so subtle) admission of insecurity.

There are many reasons why certain guys fear female bodybuilders. They fear them because they’re jealous. They fear them because they remind them that their title of “the stronger sex” isn’t guaranteed. They fear them because FBBs destroy any excuse they have about not getting bigger or stronger. They fear them because FBBs give permission to other women to get stronger – both physically and emotionally – and not take unnecessary bullshit from ungrateful jerks like them.

Oof.

But it should be obvious that these fears say more about (certain) guys than they do about FBBs in general. Guys who aren’t sexist jerks love strong women because they have no reason to be fearful or disgusted by them. If anything, we have every incentive to lift them up, celebrate them, and appreciate their impressive achievements. Female bodybuilders do not challenge our masculinity because real masculinity and strong femininity can peacefully co-exist together. They are not enemies, but rather two sides of the same coin.

Raquel Arranz looking as though she could defeat an entire army by herself.

Men who feel belittled by muscular women are actually expressing deep-rooted anxiety about themselves. FBBs remind them of their own weaknesses – both literal and figurative. That isn’t to say that guys who love FBBs are inherently stronger or possess rare emotional fortitude. Instead, guys who love muscular women have learned to move on beyond a cheap, surface-level understanding of gender roles, biology, and relationships. If a rising tide lifts all boats, muscular women also lift up all men.

One other way to look at female bodybuilders is to think of them as surrogate punishers for past sins. They are like movie monsters; larger-than-life creatures who act as destroyers sent to us to teach us all a lesson. Godzilla is Mother Nature’s way of punishing humankind for its sins of environmental degradation. King Kong is an allegorical reminder that pillaging, plundering, and economic exploitation are sins that will one day come back to haunt you. Even in the heart of New York City, a bright shining symbol of Western Civilization’s technological and social progress. Likewise, female bodybuilders are the physical embodiment of mankind’s punishment for sexism, misogyny, domestic violence, and structural gender-based oppression. Maybe not in the literal sense, but certainly in the symbolic sense.

Female bodybuilders aren’t lurking in the shadows ready to bash in the heads of guys who blurt out unsolicited catcalls or grab women’s butts, of course. That’s an avant-garde Frank Miller graphic novel just waiting to be written! However, from a psychological point of view FBBs essentially play that same role; as a constant reminder that if you’re not careful, women can strike back when provoked. And they can surpass you in terms of strength and size if you’re not on top of your game.

Even if the significance is more symbolic than literal, there is something to be said about female bodybuilders acting as proxy “Slayers of Rude, Idiotic Men” and, at the same time, allies of “Kind, Gentlemanly Men.” These battles don’t have to transpire on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram in order for them to have real substance. All they have to do is exist in our minds.

Because this is where the real battles are fought: in our minds. FBBs are often viewed as the Slayers of Men because either we fear that they are or we wish that they could be. It’s sort of like imagining Brandi Mae Akers riding on top of a fire-breathing dragon as it incinerates a town down below, Game of Thrones style. Except in this case it’s Miss Akers who’s slaying the hapless townspeople, not the dragon. Whether Brandi Mae ever ends up ruling her kingdom is a secondary matter. What’s really at stake is whether or not she taught those insubordinate plebeians down below a lesson.

And in this hypothetical scenario, it matters whether you’re rooting for Brandi Mae to succeed or wishing that she’ll fail. Do you love her or fear her? Which is it?

In the real world, this paradigm doesn’t have to exist. Female bodybuilders don’t have to be the actual or figurative Slayers of Men. They can be the Allies of Men. That is, if enough men agree to join in this mutually beneficial partnership. A strong woman does not invalidate the masculine identity of a man – no matter how “wrong” or “contradictory” it may feel. One could argue that there is no such thing as “masculine” and “feminine” qualities in any objective sense. I cannot speak to how valid that perspective is, but I understand where it comes from. For the time being, let’s assume that masculine and feminine characteristics are real – at least from a cultural standpoint.

Do not get Heather Armbrust angry!

Masculinity and femininity aren’t two separate spheres in which there is no overlap. On the contrary, there is plenty of crossover. Or maybe, our definitions of these two words are too broad. “Strength” is neither a masculine nor feminine quality. It’s both. Or neither. Maybe it exists on a list of things that aren’t gendered. I’ve argued before that female bodybuilders don’t redefine femininity so much as they expand it. They transform our thinking in regards to gender by forcing us to not think outside the box, but to shatter the box with a sledgehammer. Men and women are different, but not as different as you might think. Or, those differences are arbitrary. Or, those differences can change depending on who we’re talking about.

Your status as a “man” isn’t defined by how many masculine qualities you exhibit. This is because our definition of “masculinity” is unto itself subjective. Nor does it mean that women can’t also showcase a few “masculine” traits without compromising their feminine status. This all sounds complicated because what we’re really arguing about here is definition of words, not objective ideas. Words are more than what the dictionary says they mean. Words also carry heavy cultural connotations, historic baggage, and emotional context. None of those things can be properly conveyed by a simple one sentence definition.

Long story short, who you are as a man isn’t predicated on who women are as well. The same is true going the opposite direction. Seeing a strong muscular woman deadlift more than you at the gym doesn’t mean you’re “less of a man” or not “measuring up” to who you’re supposed to be. We are all allowed to go at our own pace. That woman, whom we’ll nickname Deadlift Lady, exists on her own plain. She is an island, floating around in an ocean full of deep-rooted cultural expectations. The same goes for every guy at that gym lifting weights near her. They are also islands – one particular colloquial expression notwithstanding. Let’s say Typical Dude is deadlifting next to her. He can only lift 215 pounds for one rep. Not bad, but not terribly impressive. But let’s say Deadlift Lady is lifting 375 pounds for 10 reps. That’s quite a lot. Way more than Typical Dude. What do we make of this situation?

Well, not much.

Typical Dude is going at his own pace. He’s setting his own personal agenda. His goals are his and his alone. As long as he’s happy, that’s all we need to know about him. Deadlift Lady, on the other hand, is also going at her own pace. Her personal agenda is probably much different than her male counterpart. After all, no lady who’s deadlifting 375 pounds does so by accident! There’s intention going on here. She’s worked her whole life to make it to this point. The biggest takeaway from this scenario is that the existence of one does not invalidate the existence of the other.

Would you be intimidated if you saw Shannon Courtney lifting next to you at the gym?

They are two human beings working out. They are trying to improve their strength, health, vitality, confidence, self-esteem, and sense of purpose. He may feel slightly insecure lifting in proximity to her, but that’s perfectly okay. And understandable. But it’s not because he has a real reason to feel insecure. It’s because the culture he lives in tells him that he should feel bad. He has no actual reason to feel that way. Deadlift Lady’s remarkable accomplishments do not denigrate or invalidate the accomplishments of Typical Dude. They are two unique, vulnerable human beings trying to make their way through this hostile universe.

Deadlift Lady isn’t slaying Typical Dude. No matter what people around them are saying or thinking, no one is getting “owned” by these two individuals existing side-by-side. They can co-exist because one does not overrule the other. Strong women do not automatically make men weaker. Guys who feel threatened by strong women feel that way because they’re recognize their own shortcomings. The presence of a strong woman makes those feelings bubble to the surface faster than a malfunctioning submarine. Strong women do not make guys feel inadequate; they only bring out those feelings that already exist.

Female bodybuilders not only directly challenge one’s sense of masculine superiority, they also force us to reevaluate how we draw that line between men and women. Is it a hard line in the sand, or one that can easily be washed away by the rising tide?

Do not fear Kathy Johansson. Instead, lift her up!

Strength and weakness. Confidence and insecurity. Superiority and inferiority. Action and inaction. Accomplished and unproven. Happiness and fear. Self-love and self-loathing. Assuredness and doubt. Self-satisfaction and the endless need to prove one’s self.

These feelings are real, even if the reasons they exist are subjective.

The sooner we realize men and strong women are not in conflict with each other, the better off we’ll all be. Better yet, future generations will thank us. Alas, we are not there yet, but I pray one day we will be. Perhaps we can all make an impact, one grueling deadlift repetition at a time.

Strong women are not the Slayers of Men. Men who hate themselves and other women are the actual Slayers of Men. And how do we defeat this mortal enemy?

Easy. In addition to lifting those weights, lift up the people around you.

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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.

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.

What is Sexy?

Sexy - Kim Buck

Kim Buck beckoning us to hop in bed with her.

Female bodybuilders are sexy.

Soooooooooooo incredibly sexy. Steaming hot. They pulsate with sexual appeal. Every inch of their immaculate bodies is divine. Female bodybuilders produce emotions, thoughts, and gut reactions out of us that cannot be described, properly attributed, or replicated.

They are also beautiful. Immensely beautiful. Incomprehensibly beautiful.

Sexy and beautiful. Beautiful and sexy.

However, as strange as this may sound, what is beautiful is not necessarily sexy, and by that same token what is sexy is not necessarily beautiful. Hopefully this makes more sense if we dive into what these two concepts actually mean.

The questions of what is “sexy” and what is “beautiful” are two different – though interconnected – matters. Beauty is primarily concerned with aesthetic preferences. Sexy, on the other hand, has more to do with the feelings certain people, words, images, and objects elicit inside us. For example, some people get turned on by the feeling of leather or being picked up and carried. There’s nothing inherently beautiful about either of those things. Yet, they’re considered sexy by those who consider such things to be sexy.

I can look at an artist rendering of the Himalayan Mountains and say that it’s beautiful. I can also glance at a gorgeous woman stroll by on the sidewalk and think the exact same thing. But I can also stare (hopefully, inconspicuously) at a less attractive woman at the gym who’s deadlifting 250 pounds and say to myself:

“Damn. That’s sexy!”

Sidewalk Lady may check all the boxes of physical attractiveness. Every single one of them. Deadlift Lady may check some of the boxes – or very few of them – and yet, for some inexplicable reason, she makes me feel things that Sidewalk Lady doesn’t. This isn’t to insult or degrade Sidewalk Lady, but to point out that how we react to certain visual stimuli doesn’t always follow logical explanations.

Deadlift Lady’s activities spark inside me the desire to do things that are socially inappropriate. Many of us can keep our animalistic instincts in check, but staring a few seconds too long clearly isn’t one of them as far as I’m concerned. I want nothing more than to marvel at her raw strength, cheer her on, and fantasize about what other kinds of miraculous feats she can accomplish. Sidewalk Lady is someone I’ll most likely forget about 30 seconds later. Sorry, ma’am! Sidewalk Lady is a dime a dozen. Deadlift Lady, however, is a much more rare bird.

Sexy - Shannon Courtney

Deadlift Lady is sort of Shannon Courtney. Alright, it’s not “sort of” her. It’s actually Shannon Courtney.

This partially explains why so many people are perplexed that folks like you and I love female bodybuilders so much. On the surface, muscular women are, for lack of a better word, “freaky” looking. They’re not normal. They’re unconventional. They defy our preconceived notions of what a woman “should” look like. Because we typically associate large muscles as being a masculine trait, when we see big muscles on a feminine body our brains struggle to comprehend it. Our natural instinct is to dismiss it as being “against nature” or “unnatural” to the point that a disgusted reaction is a perfectly reasonable response. In other words, being revolted at the sight of a female bodybuilder isn’t bigotry; it’s simply the product of our upbringing and societal expectations.

Yet, for many of us the sight of a female bodybuilder elicits the exact opposite reaction. Instead of looking at her with terror or repulsion, we get turned on. Big time. No mistake about that. Our blood starts to boil. Sexual fantasies of all sorts immediately pop into our minds. Our breathing quickens. We suddenly have the urge to…uh, do certain things. To put it mildly.

This is because our love for female bodybuilders goes below the surface. It’s beyond what you simply see on the outside. The experience of seeing a photo of an FBB may seem jarring at first, but once you actually “get it” and understand their appeal, you become enthralled by them and cannot get enough. Yes, we do love them because we appreciate how they look (or at least, how most of them look). But it’s more than that. We find them sexy because of how they make us feel.

Female bodybuilders make us feel inspired, empowered, awestruck, dazed, imaginative, intrigued, aroused, sensual, curious, anxious, jealous, insecure, terrified, astonished, shocked, confused, provoked, delirious, uneasy, and everything in between. Please note that some of these emotions are contradictory. Some are negative. How can someone feel aroused and terrified at the same time? Is it possible to be inspired and insecure simultaneously? Do people really find it sexy to be both empowered and anxious?

The answer is simple to all these questions:

YES!

There is tremendous appeal in feeling strong contradictory emotions at the same time. This is why bondage role play is so popular. Some people get tremendously aroused being scared and aroused at the same time. In fact, being frightened heightens the sense of arousal. At least, that’s the idea. It’s totally possible to look at a picture of a large muscular woman and instantly feel inadequate, insecure, and pathetic when you think about your own lack of muscle mass. You’re a guy who lifts regularly at the gym and eats (fairly) healthy. “How the hell can a woman – who’s scientifically predisposed to being smaller in stature than men traditionally are – be bigger than me? It’s so agonizing because it makes me look bad! Compared to her, I’m fat, lazy, tiny, puny, pitiful, weak, and completely out of shape.”

“Yet, I think she’s the most beautiful woman who’s ever existed and I want to ravage her in bed all night!”

Sexy - Tina Nguyen

Who wouldn’t want to ravage Tina Nguyen all night long?

Well, then. This is something that’s a bit psychologically complicated. Is it possible that guys who love female bodybuilders are really – whether they realize it or not – projecting their own insecurities onto an object they find sexually desirable? That instead of seeing muscular women as the enemy, they treat them as an ally? That they secretly desire to be the weaker sex for once? That they get incredibly turned on by a woman who can take control? That when they feel at their most helpless, they actually feel the most powerful?

Human psychology is complex and beyond my amateurish understanding. But what I do know – and this comes from experience as well – is that these contradictory feelings are real. And not only are they real, they contribute to explaining why we find female bodybuilders so unbelievably sexy.

Our love for FBBs goes well below the surface. When I see Cindy Landolt post a photo on Instagram of her sprawling on a bed wearing sexy lingerie, it’s almost as though I can literally see powerful vibes exploding out of the computer screen. She doesn’t just look hot and beautiful. She looks powerful. At the top of her game. At her peak. She looks invincible. No one can stop her. She has her audience in the palm of her hand and she can control them however she likes. And this is the kicker: She isn’t doing this just because of the so-called “male gaze.” She does this because it makes her personally feel empowered. She chooses to flaunt her immaculate body in sexually provocative ways because it’s her way of transforming herself into a superhero. Yes, she is a human being. But her muscles allow her to transcend her humanness and become something else entirely. She becomes, well, superhuman.

Miss Landolt understands that men are visual creatures. And she just gave them more visual stimuli than they can handle. If their brains explode into a million pieces, so be it. That’s her super power. That’s why she’s world-famous (in a modest sense) while other traditionally beautiful women are not. That’s why we can scroll for hours through Instagram looking at thousands of photos of beautiful women and think to ourselves, “She’s cute.” But when we come across Cindy strutting around in a bikini showing off her perfectly sculpted figure, we then react by saying:

“Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyuuuuuuuuuuuummmmm guuuuuuuuuuurrrrrlllllllllll!!!!!!!!!!!!”

See the difference? Subtle, it ain’t.

The question of deciphering “what is sexy” really boils down to these kinds of emotional reactions. There’s a cliché that states “sexy is an attitude.” There’s a lot of truth to that. But it’s more than that. What we find to be sexy (and by that same token, unsexy) is often a reflection of who we are. It shines a light on our own deepest fears, anxieties, insecurities, and inner demons. Perhaps this is a clever coping mechanism. No one wants to feel inadequate or weak. So instead of giving in to these failures, we turn it around. Rather than treat an FBB as a constant reminder of how “unmanly” we are, we treat them as a partner. An ally. A friend. A comrade. A compatriot. An equal.

Sexy - Cindy Landolt

Cindy Landolt is one of the most perfect female bodybuilders on planet Earth. Anyone want to argue with me about that? Yeah, didn’t think so!

We turn a loss into a victory. A weakness into a strength. A competitor into a teammate. This is our way of overcoming our fears. We conquer our insecurities not by letting them defeat us, but by embracing them as a source of inner strength. Here’s an odd anecdote that hopefully illustrates what I’m trying to convey:

One time a few years ago I met a well-known female bodybuilder for a muscle worship session. I won’t reveal her name for the sake of her privacy. She’s tall, thick, remarkably muscular, and smart. Very business savvy. She’s tough as nails and can physically dominate any man she encounters. While I’m not personally into fantasy wrestling, we did do some casual wrestling in bed just for the fun of it. She wrapped her strong legs around my torso and squeezed. I was helpless. I could not escape. She dominated me in every sense of the word. I struggled to breathe. She could have killed me if she’d wanted to. I was weak. She was the stronger sex, and it wasn’t even close.

At the end of our time together, she was kind enough to send me off on a positive note. It felt reciprocal because earlier I was giving her plenty of cunnilingus. First, she gave me oral. Then, once I was properly erect she got out a bottle of baby oil and smeared some on the palm of her hand. She then proceeded to jerk me off. I distinctly remember looking up at her and watching her perform this deed. She was on top of me, looking down upon this weak little boy who’s helplessly lying on this back, as defenseless as a newborn kitten. But as she stroked me, I felt a weird and unexpected feeling:

I felt powerful.

It’s strange to say this out loud, but it’s true. I felt like a manly man. I felt like a Real Man. Even though on the surface, I was the weak one and she was the strong one. She could easily snap me in half if she wanted to. Earlier, she demonstrated her superior strength with no ambiguity. There is no contest as to who is stronger. It’s her. No doubt about it. Yet, as odd as this sounds, I felt as powerful as I’d ever felt before in my entire life. There’s no logic to it. I just did.

From my perspective, I was a man receiving pleasure from a gorgeous woman. She was smiling as she was doing it. It looks like she was having fun as well. Inside, I felt like the one who was in charge. It was me who was controlling my own destiny. Even after I came, I still felt that way. For those few short moments, I was experiencing a heightened sort of pleasure that I rarely get to experience. Yet, on the surface it appears like she’s in total control. While that is technically true, that wasn’t true for me emotionally. On the inside, I felt a personal sense of empowerment that no one can understand except for me. And guess what? That’s good enough.

I didn’t treat her like an enemy. She was a friend. Not a literal friend, of course. But in that particular time and place, we were equals. I gave her pleasure. Then she gave me pleasure. This cooperative exchange felt right. It felt just. It was…sexy.

Sexy - Eiza Gonzalez

Eiza Gonzalez isn’t a female bodybuilder, but damn! She’s sexy. Or is it beautiful? She’s both, actually.

What is sexy? It’s simple: Sexy is that magical confluence when a singular human experience and mother nature collide in the most beautiful way imaginable. It’s more than just a pretty face or a killer body. It’s the emotions that come with it. It’s how we feel and how we grow as a human being as a result of experiencing those feelings.

Female bodybuilders have the unique ability to conjure up those emotions like very few other women can. Can a more “traditional” looking woman elicit those same feelings? Sure she can. Back in the day of my adolescent years, Famke Janssen, Monica Bellucci, Rena Mero, Trish Stratus, Sophie Marceau, Pamela Anderson, Halle Berry, and others did just that. But FBBs are like an addictive drug. We can’t get enough of them. We keep on returning to them. Whether we’ve liked FBBs for 30 years, 20 years, or 10 weeks, every single time we regard upon a new photo of a beautiful female bodybuilder proudly showing off her large muscles, it makes us feel jittery inside. It lights a fire in our souls. It’s a wonderful feeling, one that cannot be easily articulated. And in an unfathomable way, we don’t want to have to explain it. We embrace its mysteriousness.

That’s sexy.

Looking Up to Her

An unknown friend in a position to look up to Roxie Rain.

The heat emanating from her coarse, rough skin is palpable. I’ve never experienced skin so abrasive, yet so beautiful to the touch. Tonight is a night of many unique experiences.

Shannon stands tall in her translucent grey high heels, her forest green eyes hovering just above my own. Her eyelashes flutter with musical synchronicity. Right now, her wavy dark brown hair sits right above her broad shoulders, looking as if it’s set just right for this moment. I struggle to find the words to speak to her with, a burden that seems insignificant for the time being.

“Have you ever touched a woman like me before?” she coyly asks.

I nod my head “no,” but realize she wouldn’t be able to see that. So I attempt to make a pithy verbal reply to her inquiry.

“No, I have not. Definitely not. You’re the first, for sure.”

She murmurs something unintelligible back to me, but it’s probably just a slight laugh. She knows she has all the power right now; she knows damn well that I am like a helpless child, with normal thoughts and conversational abilities thrown out the proverbial window. My fingers move down to her wide back, every striation of muscle sending shivers down my spine. Her thick mounds of flesh seem piled on like bricks in a mansion. To reiterate, I’ve never met, seen, or touched a woman quite like Shannon before.

But what a ride it has been thus far.

“Wow. You’re so damn beautiful, Shannon,” I say. “But you already know that, I’m sure.”

Shannon unexpectedly turns around, her piercing eyes staring straight into my weak soul. She rubs her hands down her bare breasts, completely aware of their remarkably small size. Is she projecting her insecurities to me? Or pointing out her flaws (as if she has any)? Or is she attempting to turn herself on? I can only guess.

Next, she hooks her fingers around the sides of her bikini bottom and methodically pulls it down to the floor. Once it pools around her ankles, she kicks them off to the side. Neither of us have any clue where it lands. Not that we actually care.

Now she is completely nude.

“Thank you, Max. I appreciate the kind words,” Shannon begins. “Why don’t you show me how beautiful you think I am, instead of just saying it?”

With the grace of a world-class ballet dancer, Shannon leaps backwards onto the hotel bed and spreads her powerful legs as wide as they can go. She rests her head against the purple satin pillowcase. I think I know what she’s inviting me to do…so I oblige her invitation with very little humility.

I get down on my knees and lean my chest against the edge of the bed. My hands explore Shannon’s tree trunk legs, her calves the size of grapefruits, and her impressive six-pack abdomen. Shannon closes her eyes and moans as I touch every inch of her magnificent body. She’s an angel, a deity, a demi-goddess who is charitable enough to visit the Human World. For this, I am eternally grateful.

My eyes open wide when I see Shannon’s enormous clitoris. Hot, ultrasensitive, pulsing, and as erect as it can possibly be, my tongue laps its broad head with reckless abandon. Protruding out at least three inches in length, I wrap my lips around it and rhythmically fondle it with my entire mouth. Shannon groans in response, intense pleasure building up within her being.

The flawlessly beautiful Wendy Fortino.

She grabs the bedsheets and squeezes them with all her might. I would not be surprised if she accidentally rips the fabric. Her brute strength is enough to break or tear anything manmade. Loud moans of delight escape from her throat. I clutch her legs to stabilize myself. I continue to suck as meticulously as I can – wanting to bring her to the earthshattering orgasm that she deserves.

Eventually, Shannon does climax. Maybe just once. Or maybe twice. I cannot tell for sure.

“Oh fuck!” Shannon belts out.

She lifts her pelvis off the bed and writhes around involuntarily. Shock waves of orgasm pulsate throughout her body. I try to end on a gracious note by slowing down my oral actions and tickling her clit head with the tip of my tongue. I do not know if she enjoys this or even acknowledges the gesture.

Moments pass. Shannon is out of breath and smiling unashamedly.

“Alright kid. Now it’s your turn,” she announces.

Shannon playfully shoves me backward, forcing me to stumble onto my bare butt. She flexes her bulging biceps, then shows off her jaw-dropping triceps. Next, she squeezes her delts and looks to the ground to provide me with a more advantageous view. I appreciate every second of it. The final thing she does is turn toward the window and strike a side chest pose, demonstrating the results of all these years of bench pressing at the gym. She grins with delight at the conclusion of her little “show.”

She takes a few steps toward me. I am still on the floor, as vulnerable as can be.

There I am, looking up to her. She smiles. I can clearly see the deep grooves between her abs. I can see her shrunken breasts – and the chip on her shoulder that comes with it. She’s still wearing the high heels, which adds her to considerable height. She is all powerful. Omnipotent. Invincible. Indomitable. I am weak. I can do nothing to resist. Yet, why would I?

“I’m in a good mood right now. I know we’ve just met, but I have a special feeling about you, Max.” Shannon stands frozen in time, as still as a marble statue. “I rarely let guys do this the first time they see me, but like I just said, I’m feeling generous.”

She walks toward her suitcase, opens it, digs around it for a few moments, and takes out a condom wrapper. My heart flutters, knowing exactly what is about to transpire next.

Shannon tears it open and tosses it carelessly on top of the bedside credenza. She points to the bed. I immediately get up and sit down on it, as obedient as a pet dog. I remain silent. She does as well.

This is what the hotel balcony looks like.

Seductively, she approaches me and wraps her callused fingers around my manhood. It awakens, growing harder and longer in the palm of her hand. I take in a deep breath, afraid I might prematurely come right then and there. Thankfully, I do not embarrass myself in front of this Gorgeous Muscle Goddess. Eventually – and for what seems like an eternity – she smooths the condom down my erect penis and leans over to kiss me. Our lips meet. Her tongue wrestles with mine. Her strawberry-flavored chap stick invades my senses. Shannon then grasps my wrist and pulls me upward. I stand next to her, my eyes still just below hers. She leads me to the sliding glass door. My breathing stops. She unlocks it and escorts us outside. The chilly early spring air greets our nude bodies. It is still not quite dark yet, so at this moment complete strangers could be watching us if they were fortunate enough to stumble upon this glorious sight:

A lucky nude man accompanied by a beautiful nude muscular woman.

Shannon turns around, braces the metallic railing and sticks her bottom out toward me, offering it to her newfound mate. I place my cold hands against her hips. The tip of my penis brushes against her left butt cheek. I manage to take in a deep breath.

“Now fuck me,” she says in a much louder voice than I thought was prudent.

“Yes, ma’am.”

Without thinking too much about it, I seize her hips with more force and guide my penis inside her. She’s already wet, signaling her hospitality. I thrust in and out of her vagina, not saying a word and secretly hoping somebody would see us. After all, this is the most triumphant moment of my life…I would kill to have some kind of an audience to witness it. Is that too much to ask?

“Oh, that’s nice. That’s great. Just like that, Max…”

Out of the corner of my eye, I could have sworn I saw an older couple watching us from a nearby balcony. But I could be wrong. My vision has blurred and I can only concentrate on fucking her with the forcefulness that she requires. Shannon returns the favor by bouncing her pelvis up and down, adding to the sensations running through my manhood. I can only scream.

“Oh, fuck!”

Pleasure swells to its pinnacle…

…and arrives at a satisfying conclusion.

I come. Much longer than usual. I cannot imagine how much semen I’ve just ejaculated into this measly condom. More than twice than I usually do? Thrice? Who the fuck knows?

Finally, we come apart. Shannon stands up straight, kisses me one final time, picks me up with her burly arms, and takes me inside. I still do not know for sure if we had any spectators see our animalistic coupling just now. I suspect we did. But that’s just a baseless guess.

She drops me to the ground and my knees buckle. I fall feebly to the carpet. Now, I’m the one who’s out of breath. I peer up to see her. Once again, she’s standing over me. That smile has not left her pretty face. Her authority is tangible. It’s frightening how powerful she is right now and how weak I am. The contrast is jarring. Yet, in my weakness, I feel no shame. I feel ecstatic, in fact. I feel…masculine. The most masculine I’ve never felt in my life, ironically in the presence of a much bigger and stronger woman. I don’t feel any humiliation or emasculation. Quite the opposite.

It’s funny how paradoxical life can be at times, isn’t it?

Regardless of the real power dynamics actually going on in this room, there’s one constant that never ceases to exist. There I am, in the presence of the most beautiful creature I’ve ever been privileged to meet. She’s standing tall, I am on the floor.

Looking up to her.