All Hail Queen Alina

Bow down and worship Alina Popa!

Alina Popa is the GOAT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He knew nothing. And now he knows everything.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All hail Queen Alina!

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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.

A Female Bodybuilder Christmas Carol (part 1 of 3)

When you picture what Bobbi Cratchit would look like, think of Hannah May Southwood.

“Sorry, my friend. But my mind is made up.”

Bobbi Cratchit, a brand new 24-year-old intern at the West Coast Bodybuilding Federation, could not help but eavesdrop on her boss’s conversation with his director of marketing. She knows this is a crucial discussion that will determine the fate of the WCBF’s female bodybuilding division. An aspiring bodybuilder herself, Bobbi’s heart sinks at the tone of her boss’s voice. She knows what’s about to happen.

“There’s nothing I can do about it. This decision has to be made,” Ebenezer Scrooge growls into the phone. “The lady competitors don’t bring in the crowds like they used to. Hell, let’s be perfectly frank, Charlie. Those ‘roided up chicks never brought in large crowds. It’s just the truth.”

“Shit,” Bobbi whispers under her breath.

Ebenezer stands up and looks out the window of his spacious office. A newly minted sheet of snow has just fallen across town, giving it a unique poetic beauty that even the grumpy Mr. Scrooge can appreciate. But he’d never acknowledge it out loud, of course. That’s not who he is.

“Listen, Charlie. My fucking mind is made up, alright?” Ebenezer pours a small amount of whiskey into his coffee cup and sips it with the delight of a powerhouse boss who doesn’t care what other people think. “Take off all mentions of the FBB Division from the website and scrub it from our social media accounts. But tell our sponsors that we intend to keep the bikini and fitness chicks. They can draw a crowd!”

Bobbi nearly snaps her pen in half in response to her boss’s sexist attitude. She has nothing against the bikini and fitness girls personally, but philosophically she’s totally offended that they’re allowed to compete in a bodybuilding contest when most of them probably couldn’t do a single pull-up to save their lives. Bobbi aspires to be a heavyweight bodybuilder like Alina Popa and Anne Freitas – which takes building a hell of a lot more muscle than any bikini competitor can even comprehend of. But her anger is outweighed by her sadness that her dreams of becoming a big-time female bodybuilder is about to get shattered for good.

A few minutes later Ebenezer hangs up the phone and downs the rest of his whiskey. He burps loudly and walks out of his office.

“You probably heard every word of that conversation, right Bobbi?”

“Of course,” she says with the fakest smile she can possibly muster. “How can I not? You and Charlie always have spirited conversations.”

Sitting at her desk near the main entrance, she’s well within earshot of Mr. Scrooge’s palatial corner office. It has a nice leather couch, a well-stocked bar, and plenty of posters of nude and near nude female bodybuilders lining the walls. He may not think much of them as financial assets, but he sure has hell seems to like how they look. It’s almost pornographic, as many outside visitors have observed over the years.

“Well, that’s certainly true.” Ebenezer scratches his salt and pepper colored hair as he peers outside the window on the opposite side of Bobbi’s desk. He notices out of the corner of his eye a familiar car park in one of the guest spots. He sighs. “But business is business. I have to do it. I’ve held out long enough, but now is the proper time to make this difficult decision. The Female Bodybuilding Division has to–”

“Sir, I’m sorry to interrupt you, but can I persuade you to change your mind?”

Bobbi gets out from her desk and approaches her boss. She may be a woman with well sculpted muscles, but she still lacks the confidence to firmly reprimand her superior. Hopefully she can use her own personal story to persuade him to change his mind…

Ebenezer chuckles condescendingly. “You can try, my dear. But you won’t. My mind is made up. I know you desperately want to one day become a competitive bodybuilder. And that’s great. I don’t want to dash your dreams. But if you’re going to do that, you’ll have to move away from the West Coast and head somewhere else.”

A power executive office.

A virtuous knock on the door interrupts their awkward exchange. Ebenezer tries to ignore it even though he knows very well who their visitor is going to be.

“Yes, it definitely appears that way. But it’s my dream to get on that stage and compete with the best women in the world. And I have some great ideas of how we can market it moving forward…” Before she can finish, the door opens and Fred, Mr. Scrooge’s chipper nephew, struts on in. He knows he doesn’t have to knock on the door – it is a business, not a private residence after all – but he does so anyway because he never wants to appear to be rude.

“Oh, uncle! Good day to you! And it’s very nice to see you, Miss Cratchit.” Fred enters the room wearing a fashionable pea coat, Seattle Seahawks beanie, and red wool scarf. “Oh, I almost forgot. Merry Christmas to you both!”

Well, it’s not technically Christmas yet. It’s still Christmas Eve. But everyone knew where Fred was getting at.

“Bah, humbug,” Scrooge mutters to himself. “We were just talking business. And you have the nerve to barge in like this, dear nephew?”

Fred is carrying a gift basket full of wine, cheeses, fruit, jams, and crackers. He places it on Bobbi’s desk and smiles at her. “How is your family, Miss Cratchit? And how old is your son now?”

“Oh, you remembered!” Bobbi exclaims. “He’s doing very well. Just started first grade this fall. He turns six in three months.” Ebenezer walks into the bathroom to pee. He has no interest in talking to his annoying nephew or hearing about Bobbi Cratchit’s pitiful family matters. The father of her child is the son of Jacob Marley, Ebenezer’s former business partner. Jacob passed away seven years ago from cancer. He battled it for several years, but it finally conquered him. Ebenezer won’t admit this to anyone, but that tragic event changed him forever. He became colder and more distant. And definitely more emotionally detached. But because Bobbi’s son is Jacob’s grandson, Ebenezer felt an obligation to give her a job at the WCBF front office as an administrative intern. He’s too cheap to pay for a full-time employee, so he just simply cycles through intern after intern so he can take advantage of their affordability.

Plus, most employees tend to not last very long around Mr. Scrooge, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody.

“That’s lovely. Tell him I wish him and his mother a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,” Fred proclaims. “Wow! You’ve certainly been working out, huh?”

Today, Bobbi is wearing a short-sleeved blouse that shows off her big muscles. She began lifting four years ago after her son Tim was born. She usually wears a sweater to the office – especially on cold winter days like this – but she plans to attend a Christmas Eve party later this evening and she wanted to look “classy.”

“Thanks for noticing!”

“Well, how can I not? You look impressive. One day you’ll be a world-class bodybuilder,” Fred says. “I can sense it!”

Ebenezer flushes the toilet and forgets to wash his hands. He storms out of the bathroom and revels in being able to break to his nephew the cheerfully bad news. “Unfortunately, nephew, that’s not going to happen as long as she lives around here. I’m axing the FBB Division for good. It’s official as of today. Or more specifically, as of ten minutes ago.”

Competitors from Wings of Strength.

Fred turns toward his uncle with an exasperated look on his face. “Are you serious? You aren’t joking?”

“No, dear Fred. I’m being perfectly serious at this moment. After years of staving off this harsh reality, I’m afraid this is the time to do what should have been done years ago. I’m eliminating the women’s bodybuilding class for good. Permanently.” Scrooge sits down in a comfortable leather chair and basks in his unsentimental despotism. Fred turns to his uncle and pleads his case.

“Oh, please reconsider, dear uncle,” he begins. “The women deserve their time in the spotlight, too. They work just as hard as the male competitors, if not harder. They’re incredibly hardworking athletes who deserve to have their blood, sweat, and tears recognized. Please don’t do this, Uncle Scrooge.”

Fred’s uncle shakes his head with the look of a man who refuses to be persuaded otherwise. “Sorry, nephew. My mind is made up. I already spoke with Charlie about altering all our marketing materials to reflect this new reality. The FBB Division is a dead goose. But the bikini and fitness girls will be allowed to remain, if that’s any consolation prize.”

“Consolation prize?” Fred interjects with righteous indignation. “This isn’t about what I want. This is about fairness, equality, empowerment, and doing the right thing. Women have made an indelible impact on the history of this sport. Don’t turn your back on them!”

“Nope.” Scrooge leans back, demonstrating his power and prestige with the careless smugness of a totalitarian dictator. “My mind is made up. Business is business. End of story.”

Fred, knowing putting up a further fight would be fruitless, turns toward Bobbi and smiles at her. “Well, so be it. I hope you are able to achieve your hopes and dreams, Miss Cratchit. Even if you need to move away from my uncle’s jurisdiction.” Bobbi is crushed to hear such a nice man like Fred become such a cynic so quickly. That’s what happens when you engage in a business conversation with the infamous Ebenezer Scrooge.

“Thanks,” Bobbi says meekly.

“Well, my reason for coming here is to invite you to my Christmas Eve party, dear uncle. But I get the feeling you won’t feel charitable enough to attend.”

Scrooge laughs and stands up. “No, my dear nephew. I will not be attending. I don’t like parties. Parties make me uncomfortable. Too many people having a good time. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.” Scrooge grabs his coat and briefcase from his office and locks his office door. Bobbi quickly glances at the clock and sees it’s nearly 4 p.m. How fast time flies! “Have fun, Fred. And tell your wife I said hello.”

“I shall,” Fred begins. “If you change your mind, you know where I live. My address hasn’t changed. The party starts at 6 and will go on all night.”

“Bah, humbug. I won’t change my mind, I can guarantee you that!” Just as Scrooge is about to exit through the front door, Bobbi suddenly remembers an email solicitation that arrived in her inbox just this morning.

“Oh, Mr. Scrooge? We got a letter today from the local homeless shelter. They’re asking if we’d like to sponsor their annual year-end holiday fundraising dinner. Can I tell them yes or…”

Scrooge stops dead in his tracks. Without hesitation, he provides his answer. “Tell them not this year. No fucking way. We gave them $1,500 last year and the homeless problem is even worse. Worse! I tell you, someone needs to address the issue of this pitiful surplus population plaguing our fine town. It’s cluttering up our streets!” And with that, Scrooge slams the door shut, leaving Fred and Bobbi completely and utterly speechless.

How can a man be so cruel and unfeeling? It boggles the mind.

“Merry Christmas, uncle,” Fred mutters with much sadness.

The drive home was long and arduous for Ebenezer Scrooge. When it snows, people in Seattle become idiots and can no longer drive like civilized people. On a clear day, he can make it back to his condominium in twenty minutes flat. But today, it takes almost forty-five minutes. Bah, humbug indeed.

Winter in Seattle.

Scrooge parks his car in his usual spot and trudges toward the front door. The chilly air assaults his senses. A few neighborhood kids are building a snowman. A larger group of kids are making snow angels on a nearby baseball field. Scrooge hates the snow. And the rain. And sunshine can be a bother if it gets too hot. Basically, Scrooge hates a lot of things.

He takes his keys from his pocket and proceeds to unlock the door. But before he can do that, he looks at the brass door knocker and sees the reflection of a familiar looking man. Scrooge’s heart skips a beat.

“What? Who are you?” Scrooge violently turns around to see who has crept up behind him. He sees…nobody. How fucking strange! He then turns around and looks at the door knocker again. There is no one in the reflection. Not even Scrooge himself. The man in the reflection looked oddly enough like his late partner Jacob Marley. But that’s impossible, Scrooge thinks to himself. Of course it is, but the resemblance was uncanny. He must be exhausted from working so damn much. Nothing a short nap and a tall glass of brandy can’t cure!

Moments later Scrooge is pouring himself a glass of brandy and opening up a bag of barbecue chips. Though he is a 57-year-old man, Ebenezer still snacks like a small child. He regrets nothing. He eats nearly the entire bag. Satisfied for now, he puts the chips away back in the pantry. He knows in a short while he’ll crave actual food. But now is not that time.

By now, the sun has completely set and the unforgiving coldness of winter makes its presence felt. Ebenezer finds an old blanket sitting in the laundry basket and wraps it around his body. He turns on the fireplace. Within seconds a generous warm orange glow fills the room. Scrooge sits down in his favorite lounge chair and takes out his phone.

“What the hell should be open at this time? Chinese? Thai? Greek?” Ebenezer opens a take-out delivery app and scrolls through his various options. Nothing excites him. So he has to settle for Chang’s Family Restaurant, one of the worst Chinese joints in the city. It isn’t bad on its own, but it certainly doesn’t satisfy his desire for a nice juicy steak. So stir fried green beans and noodles will have to do for tonight.

He makes his order and sees his dinner should arrive in 22 minutes. Fantastic. Scrooge turns on the TV to see what’s on. Nothing much except for a college football bowl game featuring two teams he doesn’t care about. After flipping through channel after channel chock full of God-forsaken Christmas cheer, Scrooge opens Netflix and peruses through whatever terrible options it has to offer. More of the same. More Christmas. More dreadfully happy people enjoying this superfluous commercialized monstrosity of a holiday.

Bah, humbug.

Scrooge turns off the TV in disgust. He checks his phone and sees his dinner will arrive in 19 minutes. Can time move any slower?

Perhaps it can. Scrooge leans back in his chair and sighs. If there’s anything in the world he hates more than Christmas and holiday cheer, it’s having to wait a long time to satisfy his hunger. Scrooge is not a man who is accustomed to waiting. Whatever he wants he gets. Immediately. It’s been like that his whole life. A great example is how his first marriage came to be. Gail was her name. She was a rising star in the bodybuilding industry, having graced the covers of several magazines and appeared in a few documentaries and television commercials. He had to have her. No one else could. Scrooge remembers the first time they met. Gail just wrapped up a photoshoot with a well-known photographer. It was at Venice Beach in 1989. He was a young scout recruiting new athletes to join the newly established West Coast Bodybuilding Federation. She wore a revealing red bikini and looked radiant. Scrooge approached her boldly and asked if she was interested in turning pro. She blushed and replied enthusiastically “yes!” He was lost in her deep blue eyes, unable to think or complete a coherent sentence. He could not stop looking at her magnificent body. She had a lot of muscle but had the potential to build so much more. She just needed a few more years and a better personal trainer who knew…

A knock on the door interrupts Scrooge’s trip down memory lane. He looks at his phone and sees 20 minutes have passed. Did he fall asleep? Scrooge could have sworn he only closed his eyes momentarily. Surely he didn’t take a nap without intending to!

Chinese takeout food.

Scrooge gets up from his chair and heads to the front door. He greets the delivery man, a youngster in his early 20s who looks annoyed that he has to work on Christmas Eve. Ebenezer pays the kid and slams the door shut, locking it with authority. Soon, Ebenezer returns to his favorite chair and eats in silence. The green beans were fine. Not the best, but not the worst either. But it was the noodles that pleasantly surprised him. They’re much tastier than he was expecting.

After he finishes eating, Scrooge looks at the huge pile of dishes sitting in the sink and scowls. He doesn’t have any inclination to clean up after himself. It’s a holiday, after all! Can’t he be lazy just for one day out of the stinking year? Yes, that’s perfectly okay. So he decides to take a real nap instead of an accidental nap. That’ll cap off this frightful evening…

Within moments, Ebenezer Scrooge falls asleep for real.

He cannot remember if he dreamt of anything. But something startled him awake. Something was happening downstairs. There was a loud clanking sound repeating itself again and again on the bottom floor. Scrooge opens his eyes and sits up. The noise continues unabated.

“Is that…someone deadlifting?” Scrooge asks himself. He knows this is absurd, considering he’s the only person in the house. And he doesn’t have a personal gym downstairs. Ebenezer gets up and picks up a baseball bat sitting on top of a pool table. In “attack” position, Ebenezer cautiously walks down the stairs to investigate the source of this unexplainable cacophony. Once he reaches the ground floor, he notices a light shining in the living room. Scrooge raises the bat high in the air before pouncing toward his intruder.

An ominous light creeping behind a door in a dark hallway.

“You there! Get the fuck out of my house, asshole!”

Just before his eyes can adjust to the light, a familiar voice replies to him.

“Ebenezer, cut it out old friend! You said I was welcome into your home anytime I was in the neighborhood,” the voice beckons. Scrooge lowers the bat and drops it to the floor once he is able to comprehend what is in front of him. Sure enough, sitting in the middle of his living room is a makeshift home gym. He could have sworn none of this existed an hour ago! He sees a bar with four 45-pound weights on each side lying on the floor. And sitting on a bench is the figure of a man Scrooge had known for decades.

Jacob Marley, his old business partner!

“Jacob! I must be dreaming. You can’t possibly be alive,” Scrooge observes in a daze. Jacob – if that’s what this apparition can be called – appears to be working out…right in Scrooge’s living room. He’s just got done deadlifting 405 pounds for who-knows-how-many reps. Very impressive. Jacob was always a gym rat at heart. He just sort of abandoned it later in his life and substituted going to the gym for snorting cocaine, partying all night, and heavy drinking. It’s what ended up killing him, unfortunately. His liver couldn’t handle his over-the-top lifestyle and became too sick to function.

“I’m not,” the apparition replies.

“Then…who are you?” The ghost blinks.

“No, no, you dumbass! Ask me who I was!” Taken aback, Scrooge swallows his pride and does as the ghost tells him to do. After all, it’s a fucking ghost he’s dealing with here.

“Alright, you prick. Who were you, then?”

The ghost, seemingly satisfied with getting everyone’s vernacular on the same page, takes a few steps toward Ebenezer. He backs up with fear.

“In life I was your partner, Jacob Marley.”

Ebenezer stands still and ponders what the ghost has just told him. He wonders if he’s still dreaming or if that Chinese food he ate was secretly spiked with LSD. Maybe this is what happens when you don’t leave a generous tip…

“You don’t believe me, do you old sport?” Jacob asks.

“Of course not! You’ve been dead for fucking seven years! There’s no way you’re still alive. This is just a fucked up dream, that’s all.” Just as Ebenezer was about to turn away, Jacob picks up the bar with one hand and tosses it across the room. Instead of smashing his coffee table into a million pieces, it instead disappears into thin air. Nevertheless, Ebenezer lets out a gasp when it happens.

“What evidence would you have of my reality beyond that of your own senses? Why do you doubt your senses?” Jacob floats toward Ebenezer and stops right in front of him. Up close, he looks as real as a freshly trimmed hedge. Refusing to back down, Ebenezer ignores the philosophical implications of the existence of ghosts and addresses his old friend directly.

“Because,” says Scrooge, “A little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheat. You may be an undigested bit of beef broccoli, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone chow mein. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!” Unconvinced, Jacob demonstrates his “realness” by picking up Scrooge and wrestling him to the ground. He pins Ebenezer to the ground and nearly chokes him. That’s enough to persuade him that Jacob is, more or less, real. “Alright, you fucking asshole! I get it, you’re real. God damn.”

Both men stand up and Jacob wipes off sweat from his brow. “Good. Because I’m as real as I’m going to get in this current reality. You’re probably curious why I’m appearing before you. Right?”

“Yes, of course,” Scrooge says.

“Good. Well, it appears the Powers That Be aren’t too happy with you. Especially since you’re planning to discontinue the Female Bodybuilding Division for good.”

“Oh shit. Is that what this is about? Mother fucker!” Scrooge leans against the wall and groans. “Why the fuck do the Powers That Be, or whatever the hell they want to be called, give a rat’s ass about what happens to the fucking Female Bodybuilding Division? It doesn’t make money and has no hope of ever making any money. Alright?”

Jacob Marley drinks from an imaginary water bottle. “True, but it can in fact make money and become really successful if you give it a chance. If you rebrand it. If you take my daughter-in-law’s advice.” Scrooge stands up straight.

A nice looking home gym.

“Well, this is fucking fantastic. You can hear my private conversations. Yes, you’re right that Bobbi mentioned she has some ideas of how we can make the FBB Division more successful. But I’m not convinced it’ll work. It’s not even worth a try…”

“Not worth a try? Oh come on, Ebenezer. That’s not the Ebenezer Scrooge I know. The real Scrooge loves muscular women. Almost too much,” Jacob smirks. “Your first four wives were all bodybuilders, were they not?”

“Of course they were!” Scrooge begins. “I love them as partners and lovers. But not as business commodities. I know it sounds harsh, but that’s how the real world works. There’s nothing I can do to change that.”

“Hm, I somehow doubt that’s the real reason. I think you’ve ignored your entire life just how important female bodybuilders are to you, your industry, and the world at large. Thankfully, I’m here to change all that!” Jacob rises into the air, with a brilliant white light filling the entire house. Scrooge squints in response. “More specifically, my friends are! You will be visited by three spirits. The first will arrive at the stroke of one. The other at two. And the third at three. Heed the lessons they teach you! I died a bitter man with lots of regrets. I drank and did lots of coke because it filled the void in my soul. Don’t make the same mistakes I made!”

The ethereal light gets brighter and brighter. Eventually, Jacob Marley’s body disintegrates into a fine white powder that looks ironically like the same kind of white powder he’d frequently snort off the butt cheeks of Brazilian supermodels. Within seconds the room returns to normal. The home gym disappears into the ether. The light is gone. Jacob Marley is no more. The house is dead quiet.

Scrooge remains frozen. Absolutely stunned. He cannot believe what he just witnessed. But he gets the horrid feeling that the fucked up shenanigans are just getting started.

Continued in part two

We Need to Talk About Nataliya Kuznetsova

Nataliya Kuznetsova 4

This is a real human being. Seriously.

By now, you should be familiar with Nataliya Kuznetsova.

Nataliya is the kind of woman that even the most wildly imaginative female muscle fan will admit – if they’re pressed into being realistic for a hot minute – can’t ever really exist.

No woman, even with the help of all the synthetic steroids, supplements, food, weightlifting equipment, and expertise possibly available, can ever actually look like that. Whether you’ve been a bona fide female muscle fan for 40 years or 40 days, you’ve seen your fair share of muscular women. Perhaps even in-person. Yet, the rational part of your brain understands full well that no woman can ever look like her. No woman can ever have arms the size of a Mr. Olympia contestant. Or legs so thick that they resemble actual tree trunks. That’s not physically possible. It’s not scientifically possible. It’s even too absurd to draw a cartoon that looks like that.

Uh, right?

Well, you would be wrong. There is in fact one particular woman who walks on planet Earth – or is it continuously squats and bicep curls on planet Earth? – who defies your expectations of what a female bodybuilder can and cannot look like. She challenges what you previously thought was the limits of human achievement. Sure, guys who take drugs and work out like a madman with his hair on fire can become that huge. But…a woman?

No way! No how! That ain’t right!!!

Yet, it is so right. And it is possible. Her name is Nataliya Kuznetsova.

Nataliya was born on July 1, 1991 in the city of Chita, Zabaykalsky Krai in Russia. She was born just a few months before the Soviet Union officially dissolved; and although the Iron Curtain had fallen, a child had been born who would take her iron pumping quite seriously (did you see what I did there?). She has won many accolades in her life, including being the bench press and deadlift world champion. She’s also a champion armlifter, which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever seen her arms.

She aspired to become a professional bodybuilder at age 14 and never looked back. In addition to breaking several records, she’s dabbled in the field of coaching and personal training – which is not uncommon for many bodybuilders, both male and female. She’s maintained a strict diet since the early days of her career, which has clearly paid dividends. After graduating from the Moscow State Academy of Physical Culture in 2013, Nataliya proceeded to pursue her dream of shattering several powerlifting records.

And put her name in the record books is exactly what she did. In 2014 and 2015 she won various contests in Russia and Europe. While it doesn’t appear that she continues to compete in powerlifting, she’s since gained international notoriety for her unusual eye-popping physique that she proudly promotes on her social media channels.

Oh boy. And she’s also not shy about her usage of anabolic steroids and estrogen blockers. I mean, it’s not humanly possible to get as huge as her without drugs. We all know that. But in her case, it isn’t really about whether or not she “fairly” achieved her musculature. What really matters is that she looks exactly how she looks – and that’s the way she wants it.

Her brand is dependent upon the final result, not the process it took to get to that final result.

Nataliya Kuznetsova 1

Muscles on the beach.

Nataliya is the Ultimate Real Human Photoshop Illusion. You’d swear that she’s not actually real. She must be the product of a female muscle growth fiction artist’s imagination. Someone must’ve artificially enhanced her arms and legs. Or, someone superimposed a male bodybuilder’s arms onto her torso, like a G.I. Joe action figure’s arms being popped inside a limbless Barbie doll.

Yet, that is not the case. She is not a character in an FMG story. Nor are photos of her not genuine (to be fair, very few Instagram and magazine photos are 100% genuine) in the proper sense of the word. Her biceps are really the size of most guys’ quads. Her quads are really as thick as your girlfriend’s torso. It’s all true. It’s definitely not all natural, but if we’re only interested in aesthetics, who cares?

And that’s the crux of the argument. Whether she could ever achieve so much muscle mass naturally – the short answer is “no way, José” – is not the point. Insecure guys who constantly insist that she’s “juicing” or “roiding up” are just projecting their own inadequacies onto a complete stranger. They’re envious that they are unable to get that “swole,” so they need to add as many caveats as possible onto Nataliya’s achievements because it, uh, makes them feel better. Or something like that. I don’t know exactly.

But that’s not really where I’m getting at. Nataliya is noteworthy because she is who she is. Whether she “cheated” or did it through unnatural means isn’t what’s truly important. What’s important is that she’s a human cartoon in the flesh. She’s a female muscle fan’s dream come true, if extreme FMG artwork happens to be your thing. It’s not for me personally, but it doesn’t have to be. I can acknowledge her importance without being totally smitten with her looks.

Personally, Nataliya is a bit too much. Everything about her is superhuman, including her lips. Dang. She makes Angelina Jolie look like the before-and-after photo at a lip enhancement surgeon’s office. I tend to prefer ladies who are both large and traditionally curvy. Alina Popa is my jam. So is Isabelle Turell. And Shannon Courtney. And Theresa Ivancik. And Lindsay Mulinazzi. And many others. I have nothing against Miss Kuznetsova as a human being. I’m sure she’s cool and pretty interesting to be around. Apparently, she’s bisexual – which will make any FMG artist go hog wild when crafting erotically-charged dime novel-style fan fiction.

Perhaps this is a reflection of my limited imagination. Is Nataliya’s physique now the new Mount Everest? Are former Ms. Olympia contestants like Iris Kyle, Tina Chandler, Debi Laszewski, Anne Freitas, and Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia merely the tip of the iceberg? Previously, we may have thought of these ladies as being at the peak of the female muscle pecking order. But maybe our standards were set too low. Maybe women like Nataliya Kuznetsova (are there any others like her? Asking for a friend) are where the proverbial bar is now set. Or should be set. It’s not enough to train for a few hours, give yourself a couple of rest days, and intersperse within your daily routine plenty of Tupperware containers full of brown rice, grilled chicken, and boiled broccoli. Perhaps the new normal should be to train for several hours a day – as if it’s practically a part-time job – and eat as much protein as you possibly can without throwing up. This doesn’t sound particularly appealing, but one must suffer for one’s art.

Nataliya Kuznetsova 2

Nataliya’s quads don’t lie.

Hm. Maybe that’s exactly the point. One must suffer for your art. In Nataliya’s case, her body is her art. Her muscles are her canvas. Dumbbells, vitamin supplements, anabolic steroids, and protein are her paintbrushes. And her Instagram feed is her museum. And we are patrons of her art. Instead of sipping champagne, we down a carton of Muscle Milk. Same thing.

All bodybuilders are artists as well as athletes. They might consider themselves athletes first and foremost, and that would be their prerogative. But whether they consciously consider it or not, they’re also artists. Michelangelo used marble. Nataliya uses her own flesh and blood. That sounds odd, but it’s true. Bodybuilders don’t try to hit a baseball into the centerfield bleachers or dunk a basketball over a 7-foot tall defender. They try to look awesome, prioritizing muscle mass, symmetry, and aesthetic perfection over all else.

Yet, I’m perfectly fine with Nataliya being the exception and not the rule. She can be an Internet sensation who makes our eyes pop out of our skulls. She can be someone who essentially provides fodder for clickbait articles on second-rate news aggregate sites. I highly doubt female muscle fans worldwide are clamoring for more women to look like her. If more do choose to look as extreme as possible, so be it. But we’re perfectly content with more “conventional-looking” female bodybuilders (as contradictory as that may sound) such as Miss Popa and Miss Ivancik. At least, they’re conventional within the context of the world of female bodybuilding.

Here’s a question: Is Nataliya Kuznetsova good or bad for female bodybuilding and fans of female bodybuilders? It’s the question sports commentators always make regarding dynasties like the Golden State Warriors, New England Patriots, the UConn women’s basketball team, Alabama football, Manchester United, or the Marvel Cinematic Universe (ha ha). Is dominance a good thing? Can the lack of parity hurt the overall product? Or does it enhance it? Is temporary dominance – because dominance rarely lasts forever – actually a good thing because it provides an incentive for others to work harder in order to catch up?

Chances are she’s not going to have much of an effect on anything. Nataliya exists in her own little universe. She’s carved out her own unique niche. She doesn’t really exist in the realm of bodybuilding because she isn’t a competitive bodybuilder (to my knowledge). She’s a mini-celebrity whose body is her selling point. Her extreme physique is why she’s famous, not because she climbed up the industry ladder or won so many accolades that we cannot help but notice her. In a way, she’s the perfect example of how the entrepreneurial female bodybuilder is most likely the archetype that will survive the longest.

Nataliya Kuznetsova 5

Ever seen someone like this at the gym? Yeah, didn’t think so.

The bodybuilding industry’s marginalization of female competitors doesn’t need to be rehashed here. The death of the Ms. Olympia is really all you need to know. Wings of Strength is doing their best to resuscitate the spirit of the Ms. O, and we wish them all the best in this endeavor. Long story short, female bodybuilders need to find alternative avenues of earning an income in order to continue doing what they love to do.

Nataliya has done exactly that.

She’s found a void and filled it perfectly. Impeccably. She busted her tail to look as hypermuscular as possible. She knew not everyone would dig her look, but that didn’t matter one iota. There are plenty of people who will. And do. She’s made sacrifices – including long-term risks to her body – to achieve her Human Photoshop figure. She was able to go “viral” because she stood out from the rest of the herd. There are plenty of muscular women out there. But few are as surreal in their musculature as her.

So because of that, she was able to break through in front of more “mainstream” eyes because of her freakish physique. Cindy Landolt or Minna Pajulahti are famous within the small community of female muscle fans, but Nataliya has been able to rise above that and attraction attention from non-female muscle fans. And chances are pretty good that for many people, Nataliya is the only muscular woman whom they care to follow on social media. She’s “famous” – in a 21st century viral Internet meme sense – for being a living and breathing statistical outlier, not because she happens to be a female bodybuilder who’s broken the mold of her predecessors and peers.

And that’s the meat and potatoes of our discussion. Miss Kuznetsova is nothing more than a freakish statistical outlier to the vast majority of Internet-savvy people out there. She won’t help the visibility of the female bodybuilding industry. She won’t hurt it either, but that’s beside the point. She’s a Human Island. A once-in-a-lifetime Black Swan Event. She’s like the people who love to follow Tiger Woods but couldn’t care less about other golfers.

There are golf fans. And there are Tiger Woods fans. And they are often not one and the same. Likewise, there are Nataliya Kuznetsova fans. And there are female muscle fans. And they are not necessarily the same thing.

Nataliya Kuznetsova 3

Can’t tell if those are her quads…or an actual tree trunk.

Some people love Eminem but don’t particularly like hip hop. Some people loved “The Dark Knight” but never read a single Batman comic book. And some people are enamored with Nataliya Kuznetsova but couldn’t identify Alina Popa in a police lineup.

Life is funny like that.

Whether you love her, hate her, or have neutral feelings about her, one thing is certain: You’re totally justified to initially think that this woman couldn’t possibly exist. This has got to be like “Simone,” that 2002 Al Pacino movie about a movie star who’s digitally animated and isn’t really real. Certainly Nataliya has got to be a digital avatar, right? A fake persona meant to punk all of us into thinking a woman could genuinely build muscle mass that male bodybuilders could only dream of? Well, the truth is that she’s real. Very real.

I have no idea how long she can maintain her physique. I’m not a nutritional scientist or biology expert, but it seems reasonable to worry about her long-term health. All that animal protein, steroids, and hormone-blocking drugs can’t be good for you. Years and years of living like that should eventually take its toll, right?

Eh. Maybe, maybe not.

For now, let’s just appreciate who she is and what she’s been able to accomplish thus far. Only time will tell as to how much of an impact she’s making on the visibility of female bodybuilders, if any at all.

Karen Zaremba: My Sentimental Favorite

Hand bras are the worst!

Hand bras are the worst!

Every female muscle fan has “the one” who truly made them see the light. It’s not necessarily the first muscular woman they ever saw or the one they would consider to be their favorite. Personally, the first FBB I ever noticed was Lisa Marie Bickels, a former U.S. Marine who caught my attention more than ten years ago during my college years.

My current favorite is Denise Masino, a devilishly sexy siren with an endowment between her legs that can only be described as scrumptious. Miss Bickels isn’t close to being a favorite of mine and Miss Masino is someone I discovered later on. Thus, the subject of the woman who played a crucial role in my “female muscle awakening” is none other than Karen Zaremba.

Karen Zaremba was born on January 27, 1964 in Detroit, Michigan. Back then, Detroit was deserving of its nickname of The Motor City and the breeding ground of some of the most recognizable names in American pop music (Motown, anyone?). Today, Detroit resembles a Third World country, but that’s another story for another day. On that fateful day in the heartland of America, the world was introduced to a gorgeous young lass who would one day grow up to become one of the sexiest female bodybuilders the Universe has ever known.

Today, Karen resides in Clinton Township, which is less than 30 miles north of her birth town. So Karen didn’t scurry too far from the crib, as it were. I suppose there’s no reason why one should move far away from home unless there were extenuating circumstances. If you like where you live, why not stay there? Karen and her family obviously feel this way.

Like many beautiful female bodybuilders, Karen is the mother of two children and is happily married. Evidently, she never had any problem balancing her work/home life with her chosen profession of being a competitive bodybuilder and fitness model. Standing at a modest 5”2” and weighing 124 pounds (give or take), she describes herself as a “stay-at-home Mom” when she isn’t working in the fitness industry. Of course, many of the interviews that I’ve used to curate this information are several years old, so take this with a grain of salt.

Love those abs!

Love those abs!

From what I can gather, Karen no longer competes and probably doesn’t participate in bodybuilding anymore. Like many FBBs, details about their personal lives are scant, making it a challenge to paint a complete picture of what she’s like. I am confident that whatever she’s doing now, she’s probably happy with her life and wouldn’t want things to be any other way.

Her contest history is as follows:

2007 – Europa Super Show: 8th place, Lightweight

2006 – IFBB Motor City Pro Figure: 16th place

2006 – IFBB Pittsburgh Pro Figure: 16th place

2005 – NPC National Figure Championships: 2nd place, Class A (earned her IFBB pro card)

2005 – Junior Nationals: 3rd place, Class A

2005 – Junior USA: 3rd place, Class A

2004 – Central States Figure championships: Short Class, Masters and Overall Winner

2003 – Michigan Novice Bodybuilding championships: Lightweight, Masters and Overall Winner

Of course, this might not reflect her full contest history, but my quick bit of Internet research reveals that this is pretty comprehensive. If you know of any further contests that Karen has participated in, please do not hesitate to let me know in the comments below.

As one can clearly see, her contest history isn’t remarkable or noteworthy. Pretty standard for someone who loves to compete but isn’t too committed to becoming an elite competitor. This is not meant to be a slight against her. This is just to say that when she was a competitive bodybuilder, she wasn’t someone you would have associated as being the best of the best.

Poetry in motion.

Poetry in motion.

She came, she saw, she…participated. Her accomplishments are as modest as her objectives. She didn’t aim to be better than everybody else; she just wanted to see what she could do. Many competitors (both male and female) are not necessarily “in it to win it.” Many are in it for no other reason than to have fun, challenge one’s self, and meet new people while trying new things.

That’s an attitude we need to see more in our world.

But that’s not why she’s a sentimental favorite of mine. I discovered Karen in 2005 or 2006, so in other words a solid decade ago. Back then, I would have been 18 or 19 and Karen would’ve been 41 or 42. Think it’s unusual for a boy in his late teens to completely fall in love with a woman who’s more than twice his age? A woman who is nearly old enough to be his own mother? I certainly thought so at the time, but I didn’t think there was anything wrong or abnormal about it.

Why was there nothing unusual about this? Well, have you taken a good look at her?

Yowza!

Karen is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. She has an authentic look to her that’s difficult to explain but easy to see. Her dark hair is beautifully complemented by her olive complexion, a skin tone that perfectly accentuates her muscles. She’s legendary for her six-pack abdomen, which she is not shy about showing off to the camera. I briefly went through a stage of having a six-pack fetish. Can you possibly guess why?

Facially, she doesn’t look like a cookie-cutter Playboy Playmate or a nameless fashion model you see plastered across shopping mall corridors. It’s too clichéd to say she looks like the “girl next door” or the “hot mom next door,” but it’s sort of true!

What initially struck me about Karen, and it still strikes me today, is how effortlessly sexy she is. When she walks, her hips poetically bounce in a way that can make your heart stop. She’s very feminine, so much so you forget that all those negative stereotypes about female bodybuilders even exist. Of course, she’s a mother – which allows her to be called a certain idiotic acronym that I refuse to mention on this blog. Personally, I find muscle moms appealing, but there are certain misogynistic levels I refuse to lower myself to.

Baby got back!

Baby got back!

Perhaps that’s at the root of my attraction to Karen Zaremba. She’s a muscular woman who transcends the “muscle chick” fetish. She isn’t just “beautiful for a female bodybuilder,” she’s “beautiful…period, end of story.” Karen forced me to view muscular women through a different lens. No longer were all FBBs big, oversized masculinized “women” who’ve vehemently rejected traditional femininity and womanhood. I may not have felt exactly that way toward FBBs at the time, but my worldview was limited during those years. Karen encouraged me to expand my horizons.

Then, the floodgates opened. I discovered Annie Rivieccio. Then Lisa Cross. Then Alina Popa, followed by Yvette Bova and Denise Masino and Deidre Pagnanelli. I found out about Michelle Maroldo and Denise Hoshor. And Brandi Mae Akers. Of course, Victoria Dominguez. And other women like Nikki Fuller, Debi Laszewski, Sondra Faas, Marina Lopez, Catherine Holland, Emery Miller, Gayle Moher, Lauren Powers, Shawn Tan, Julie Germaine, and newcomers like Shannon Courtney, Minna Pajulahti, Dani Reardon, and Sheronica Sade Henton. There are many more to name. We could go on for hours. I’m still discovering new beautiful ladies seemingly every single day.

But I never forgot my roots, as the saying goes. Karen Zaremba remains on the front of my mind and tucked away snuggly in my heart. She isn’t just one of my first discoveries…she remains one of the best and brightest. I have the feeling I’m going to feel the same way regardless of how many additional tens of thousands of muscular women I’m introduced to in the future.

But let’s return to Karen’s effortless sexiness. It cannot be understated. Karen doesn’t walk; she glides. She doesn’t smile; she glows. She doesn’t pose; she radiates. She doesn’t flex; she blossoms. She doesn’t impress; she transcends. She doesn’t compete as a bodybuilder; she elevates the ceiling of human potential. She isn’t just beautiful; she’s ethereal and magnanimous. Karen Zaremba exceeds your expectations yet doesn’t seem to be trying to do anything other than being herself.

That takes more than talent. That takes a flawless combination of natural gifts, determination, hard work, and instincts. No one can teach you how to be as angelic as Karen. Nor could she necessarily teach others the ropes. Some of us are more radiant and charismatic than others for reasons that cannot be rationally explained or easily transferrable.

Karen's skin tone is the best.

Karen’s skin tone is the best.

Perhaps part of her appeal is her laidback Midwestern demeanor. Karen doesn’t boast the flashiness of an entitled California-bred pseudo-celebrity. Nor is she a snooty East Coaster who treats bodybuilding as her ticket to Broadway-style stardom. I am, of course, exaggerating and wildly stereotyping millions of people in the United States (which is trendy in the year 2016), but what cannot be denied is the refreshing authenticity that Karen brings to the table.

She doesn’t post selfies every single day on Instagram. In fact, I don’t think Miss Zaremba even has an Instagram account. When you research her, you don’t actually find a whole lot. This adds to her mystique. Because thousands of photos and hundreds of hours of video footage of Karen don’t exist, we can only witness a small slice of who she is. This allows us to fill in the blanks wherever we see fit.

So I can speculate that she’s modest, down-to-earth, and full of “small town charm” because…well, I feel like it. Is this based on extensive knowledge of her personality, lifestyle, and background? Nope! Our idealized version of people is what fuels our love for celebrities.

Karen Zaremba may not be a traditional celebrity, but in my heart she’s a glamorous superstar.

She comes across as a super chill lady who will just as likely bake you a batch of gingerbread cookies as she is to rapidly do 25 pullups as if it were no big deal. She’s a mom and she loves being a mom. She once was a muscular woman who also doesn’t mind being a loving wife and someone who would enthusiastically serve on her local PTA board. Once again, this is based on nothing but what exists in my imagination. But doesn’t this seem plausible?

For her, bodybuilding isn’t her life’s calling or integral to her business model. Doesn’t it seem like for Karen being a bodybuilder was a “neat” thing to do? She wasn’t in it for the money, the glitz, or the fame. She didn’t “brand” herself as a bad girl or a sexy muscle siren or feminist superhero. She just let herself be herself. She’s a mom, a wife, and a friendly neighbor who thinks having big muscles would be nifty. You rarely see that level of unpretentiousness in today’s narcissistic culture.

In other words, Karen never wanted to be a celebrity – even among the small subculture of female muscle fans. Having big muscles wasn’t her way of feeding her ego. It was her way of experiencing self-empowerment. All she wanted to be was the best version of herself. For me, that’s all I need.

Karen left just enough to the imagination...yet revealed enough to let us know what she got. Such a tease!

Karen left just enough to the imagination…yet revealed enough to let us know what she got. Such a tease!

Just as any baseball or football player must eventually call it a career and “hang up the cleats,” Karen has now decided to forgo her muscles and become “normal-looking” again. I have no doubt that Karen still exercises to keep herself fit and trim, but from what I can gather (and she prefers to keep her personal life private, which is her right) she’s allowed her muscles to shrink. She’s now a former bodybuilder. She’s now a regular lady you see shopping for groceries at the supermarket on a quiet Tuesday afternoon. This isn’t disappointing or regrettable. She can do whatever she wants with her life.

But there is undeniably a small element of sadness at play here. It is a bit melancholy when a gorgeous FBB retires and relinquishes her muscularity. As a sports fan, you never want to see your favorite players withdraw from playing the game they love and ride off into the sunset back to civilian life. But time marches on and not everything lasts forever. There will be plenty of young up-and-coming Karen Zarembas who will take up her mantle. Heck, I’ve references many of them on this very blog.

So this is a celebration of a woman who leaves a legacy of making the world a more beautiful place, whether she has big muscles or not. Because of her, we now have stronger faith in the goodness of people and the potential of human achievement. Karen Zaremba never has to “prove” that she is gorgeous. She just is. She never hogs the spotlight and demands that people look at her. We look at her because we cannot help but look at her. That takes something special.

As an 18-year-old kid Karen made my heart leap out of my chest. She was more than twice my age and rarely ever did any nude modeling. She never did anything pornographic or overly sexual. She kept it classy. She kept things modest. You’ll never find a video of her sucking a porn star’s penis or masturbating with an oversized dildo. She never had to do any of those things to capture my attention, even all these years later.

She just had to be herself. And that was enough. And it still is.

Minna Pajulahti is the Flawless Female Bodybuilder We’ve All Been Waiting For

Flawless? I think so.

Flawless? I think so.

Alright, ladies and gentlemen. Stop whatever you’re doing. Right now. I don’t care if you’re sitting in a waiting room about to undergo open-heart surgery and the nurse just called your name to get prepped. I don’t care if you’re about to have tea with the Queen of England (happy 90th birthday!) or if you’re in the middle of writing your doctorate dissertation that’s due in an hour. Just stop whatever you’re doing and do what I’m about to tell you to do.

Find a device with Internet connection and do a Google search on Minna Pajulahti.

I’ll wait.

Ready to proceed? Great.

I’ve already shared photos of Miss Pajulahti on this blog, but I think now is the time to dedicate a whole blog post to her. She isn’t new to the scene, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t newsworthy at this particular moment. Have you seen what this gorgeous woman looks like? She’s newsworthy 27/7/365. Hopefully we can all agree on that!

There isn’t a whole lot of biographical information about her available, so I’ll summarize what I can.

Minna is a Finnish IFBB bodybuilder who was born on May 4, 1980. At the ripe age of 36 (although she looks 26!), Minna competes in the women’s physique division. She works as a flight attendant and fitness coach when she isn’t busting her butt at the gym.

She placed 14th at the 2010 IFBB Fort Lauderdale Pro, 7th at the 2011 IFBB Toronto Pro, 5th at the 2011 IFBB FIBO Power Pro Germany, 16th at the 2014 IFBB Europa Dallas, and 6th at the 2016 IFBB Karina Nascimento Pro. She also participated at the 2010 IFBB Arnold Amateur International Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure & Bikini Championships. She might have competed in other contests, but the history on that is scant.

In addition to competing in bodybuilding, Minna is also a powerlifter. She says she also enjoys cheerleading and everything related to fitness. Standing at 5’4”, Minna may not be super tall, but her gorgeous good looks, beach blonde hair, and powerfully built physique makes her stand out above the rest. She currently lives in Nokia, Finland.

A strikingly gorgeous female bodybuilder.

A strikingly gorgeous female bodybuilder.

Every so often I’ll come across a female bodybuilder whose striking beauty and impressive muscular development gives her enough “crossover” appeal to please both female muscle fans and “female muscle skeptics” alike. We all know (or know of) people who are skeptical and irrationally disgusted by strong women. The stereotype they have ingrained in their brains of a female bodybuilder is someone with a man-like face, grossly unfeminine muscles protruding everywhere, excessive body hair, a voice deep enough to make a 17th century pirate blush, and overly aggressive behavior. Minna Pajulahti takes all those harmful images and smashes them with the hammer of Thor.

Minna is different. Despite her huge muscles, her curvy figure is undeniably feminine. Her face is as gorgeous as you’ll ever see. She seems approachable, pleasant, and “normal.” But more important, her incredible good looks makes you stop dead in your tracks. You see her once and you’re hooked. How can you not want to check in on her Instagram every single morning?

First impressions matter. I can guarantee you your first impression of seeing pictures of Miss Pajulahti is to be hypnotized by her flawless combination of beauty, muscularity, and etherealness. She’s so physically beautiful she seems almost not real. She’s like a female muscle fan crafted a flesh-and-blood female bodybuilder from scratch and created the Perfect Dream Woman. Minna is that damn gorgeous.

This is how we react. Will others follow and be captivated by her like we are? Maybe, maybe not.

Whether Minna is likely to become a “mainstream” celebrity isn’t the point. Bodybuilders as a whole, even today’s most popular male competitors, are only known to a limited number of people. Guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno had what it took to become household names, but this isn’t the 1970s anymore. The sport still exists, but it can’t compete with soccer, basketball, baseball, football, and MMA in terms of widespread popularity. Bodybuilding’s market share isn’t what it used to be.

Minna has fantastic muscle development...

Minna has fantastic muscle development…

In a previous blog post, I talked about the difficulties of maintaining the so-called “perfect balance” of being a female bodybuilder who can appeal to a wide audience. Miss Pajulahti is someone who comes very close. I personally think she hits the nail on the head, but not everyone will agree with me. That’s perfectly okay. They have every right to be wrong!

But seriously, Minna is striking for being two things at once: She looks like a Baywatch lifeguard while at the same time having the muscle mass of an NFL linebacker. For my non-American readers, I apologize if I can’t come up with a better analogy. Heavyweight boxer, perhaps?

If you follow Minna closely on Instagram – and I highly recommend you do if you don’t already – she does everything you’d expect a beautiful woman on IG to do. She posts selfies, photos of what she eats, her friends, her work life, her accomplishments, inspirational quotes, and shots of herself modeling. The fact she isn’t a world-famous supermodel by now astounds me. But I get it. Women with biceps that large can’t possibly draw interest from the general public.

Or can they?

If given a chance, I have no doubt Minna could shake up the advertising industry. If she were 10-12 years younger (though like I said earlier, she looks a lot younger than she is) and were born and raised in Southern California instead of Finland, perhaps things could be different. If she chose to pursue a sport like MMA or if she became famous for posting viral fitness videos on YouTube, Minna could be a bigger international star than she is right now. Today, Minna is only “famous” to people who pay close attention to the fitness/bodybuilding world. But it didn’t have to be that way.

This “missed opportunity” isn’t necessarily tragic, but it is a bit disappointing. Minna is unquestionably beautiful, feminine, and accomplished. She also has bigger muscles that most people aren’t accustomed to seeing on a woman’s body. I can’t fathom how anyone would be shocked or repulsed by her. She would force you to do a double-take, but that’s not the same thing as wanting to turn away from her because you find her appearance unbearably unpleasant.

...and a gorgeous face to boot!

…and a gorgeous face to boot!

How can you not help but stare at videos of her deadlifting, squatting, and bench pressing massive amounts of weight? It’s impressive for anyone to be able to powerlift all that, never mind someone who also looks like she could be arm candy for Hugh Hefner (try not to vomit when you think about that). I am not in the least bit surprised that she used to be a cheerleader. She definitely looks the part.

Is Minna a “flawless” female bodybuilder? Well, that depends on how we define flawless. I find no fault in her physique, attitude, professional goals, and accomplishments. Will a diverse array of people, both those who are already sympathetic to muscular women and those who are not, like her in the same way? That remains to be seen. Sadly, we may never have the chance to find out. This is the missed opportunity I am quietly lamenting.

I will not attempt to project where her career goes from here. Will she score a small role in a big studio Hollywood feature film and become a major celebrity hereafter? Probably not. The odds of that kind of good fortune are nearly nonexistent. However, that isn’t totally outside the realm of possibility given the pop culture trends we’re seeing play out today.

Superhero movies are more popular than ever. The sci-fi and fantasy genres are about to take off to new heights. The rebooted Star Trek franchise and reinvigorated Star Wars universe are prime avenues for non-traditional looking performers to hog the spotlight. New episodes of Game of Thrones is starting to become a national holiday. Lots of popular sci-fi/fantasy books and graphic novels are ready for an HBO or Netflix executive to greenlight. Nobody knows what the future will hold.

So it’s not outside the realm of possibility for a sexy, gorgeous muscular woman to score a role in a major TV or film project that will attract millions of eyeballs. I won’t hold my breath for such an occurrence to happen, but it’s not inconceivable. It may not be Miss Pajulahti who lands this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity per se, but it doesn’t have to be.

I cannot bring up Minna Pajulahti as being the flawless female bodybuilder we’ve all been waiting for without giving proper respect to Shannon Courtney, Dani Reardon (despite an unfortunate domestic violence arrest), Sheronica Sade Henton, Beata Antoninas, Lauranda Nall, and other young rising stars. I wouldn’t say Minna is my favorite current FBB, but she’s definitely one who’s effortlessly captured my heart.

We will definitely be experiencing some turbulence during our flight this evening.

We will definitely be experiencing some turbulence during our flight this evening.

This lineup of young female bodybuilders who aren’t afraid to build abnormal levels of muscularity is impressive and encouraging for the future of the sport. It is unreasonable to expect the sport to become as popular as tennis or golf, but it doesn’t have to be. The goal shouldn’t be to find ways to expand the brand of female bodybuilding just for the sake of expansion. The ultimate goal should be to maximize the amount of support these incredible athletes receive so that they can feel emboldened to pursue their dreams.

Who knows? Maybe sometime in the near future someone else will emerge as the much-awaited “savior” of female bodybuilding. Perhaps this hypothetical person will be blessed with supermodel-level beauty, a charismatic personality, top-notch performance talent, intelligence, wisdom, grace, humility, passion, drive, the desire to be great, and an unapologetically hyper muscular frame. She’ll love who she is and will refuse to apologize for her muscles. She’ll be an inspiration, a one-of-a-kind pioneer, and someone who we can truly say revolutionized the way society views strong women.

That day may never come. Or maybe it’s right around the corner. Either way, all we can do is wait and see. This Ultimate Female Bodybuilder may or may never arrive on the scene. This could just be a pipe dream. Regardless, until that day comes, we’ll just have to embrace Minna Pajulahti – and hundreds of women just like her around the globe – with a full heart and an open mind.