Nostalgic for Naughtiness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will you accept this rose from Raye Hollitt?

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

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

Oh baby.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talk about awkward.

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

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

The statuesque Bev Francis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who wants to lift with Cory Everson?

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

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

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

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

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

An iconic female bodybuilder, Rachel McLish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Female Bodybuilders are the Original Hipsters

The beautiful Alina Popa, one of my personal favorites. On a side note, you'd be surprised how difficult it is to find photos of FBBs wearing glasses!

The beautiful Alina Popa, one of my personal favorites. On a side note, you’d be surprised how difficult it is to find photos of FBBs wearing glasses!

Question: How do you drown a hipster?

Answer: In the mainstream.

Another question: Why did the hipster burn his tongue while eating pizza?

Answer: Because he began eating it before it became cool.

Last question: Why did the hipster stop swimming in the ocean?

Answer: Because it was too current.

No doubt you’ve heard these jokes before. If you haven’t, you obviously don’t spent enough time on the Internet. But for those of you who love to waste your valuable free time, I’d venture a guess that you should be familiar with the social phenomenon of labeling people who are (supposedly) anti-establishment, anti-pop culture and anti-cool as being “hipsters.”

According to Wikipedia, a “hipster” is defined as “a postmodern subculture of young, urban middle-class adults and older teenagers that first appeared in the 1990s and became particularly prominent in the 2010s, being derived from earlier movements in the 1940s. The subculture is associated with indie music and alternative music, a varied non-mainstream fashion sensibility (including vintage and thrift store clothes), progressive or independent political views, and alternative lifestyles.”

Alternate lifestyles. Independent ways of thinking. Doing things most other people don’t. Being involved in a subculture that is as far away from the “mainstream” as you can get.

In other words, marching to the beat of your own drum. Going against the grain. You get it.

After much thought and deep contemplation, I’ve come to a radical conclusion – one that sounds strange on the surface but actually makes a ton of sense once you get down to analyzing it from every possible angle. Are you ready for this?

Female bodybuilders are the original hipsters.

No, seriously. They are. Think about it for a moment.

Female bodybuilders exist outside the, ahem, “mainstream.” When we think about the typical form of a human female, certainly one with the physique of an NFL linebacker shouldn’t initially come to mind. A woman with shoulders the size of bowling balls isn’t exactly typical of what you see every day. Seeing a lady strut around with arms strong enough to bend steel is a rare sight.

Monica Mollica working her triceps.

Monica Mollica working her triceps.

How often do you run into a female homo sapien with bulky legs, a broad back, six-pack abs, a wide chest, burly arms and veins popping out of her skin? If this happens often to you, please let me know where you live!

But outside of what you see on her exterior, consider what a female bodybuilder has to do in her personal life. She has to dedicate her life (not a portion of her life, but her entire life) toward her sport (or art) in ways that go well beyond what any casual hobby would ask you to do. Bodybuilding isn’t a leisurely activity like knitting or scrapbooking. It’s a lifestyle in every sense of the word.

She has to radically change the way she eats, works, exercises, sleeps, drinks and schedules her life. She has to make a commitment to live her life in a way that’s contrary to how most of us conduct ours. She even does this for reasons that most of us wouldn’t understand.

Why torture yourself? Why endure so many long hours at the gym? Why give up eating sweets, fatty foods and other delicious goods? For what end?

And why the hell would you want to LOOK like that?

These are questions that “mainstream” folks ask all the time. These are thoughts that people who aren’t “into that sort of thing” contemplate whenever they encounter a woman with biceps like Alina Popa or legs like Julie Bourassa. Expectedly, you have to be more knowledgeable about the world of bodybuilding and athletics in order to genuinely appreciate what she has to go through to look the way she does.

The beautiful Autumn Raby. You'd be surprised how difficult it was to find photos of FBBs wearing glasses!

Autumn Raby on a bed. Need I say more?

Additionally, bodybuilding is truly a subculture. They have their own slang. Their own events. Their own hierarchies. Their own social rules (both spoken and unspoken). They have their own clubs. Their own circles of friendships. Outsiders. Insiders. Those who are actual bodybuilders. Those who are pretenders. Those who are wannabes. Those who wish to be a bodybuilder but don’t want to lift that heavy-ass weight (Ronnie Coleman reference, anybody?). These are common traits of any subculture.

I will admit I am not informed enough about the world of competitive bodybuilding to write extensively about it. I am not an insider. I’ve only met a small handful of truly professional (and hardworking amateur) bodybuilders, both male and female. But I know enough to know what I don’t know. I know that unless you’re actually a legitimate bodybuilder, you’ll have no idea what it’s like to be one.

This is what a subculture looks like. I am merely an outsider looking in. Many of you are, too.

But what’s even more thought-provoking is when we discuss specifically the world of female bodybuilding, which is a subculture within a subculture. I could go on for days writing about female muscle fetishism, women who wrestle men, men who love to be dominated by muscular women, women who travel the world to book “sessions” with male (and female) fans, muscle worship, BDSM, D/s roleplaying, sthenolagnia, the psychology of admiring female muscle and plenty of other topics related to this sub-subculture.

What this really means, in a nutshell, is that female bodybuilders are so radically different, they belong in a category of their own.

Carla Maria is one very fine female.

Carla Maria is one very fine female.

This should be justification for why female bodybuilders are the original hipsters. Alternate lifestyles? Check. Existing outside the mainstream? Check. Being part of a sub-subculture that’s so hidden most people in the general population probably couldn’t even tell you the name of a single FBB? Triple check!

But let’s look at this from a slightly different viewpoint. Consider how a female bodybuilder is treated by others. Consider how people around her behave when she’s in their presence. Consider what it’s like to exist in a society where you can genuinely be considered “unique.”

People stare at you. Some are disgusted by you. Some are uncontrollably mesmerized by you. Men are jealous of you. Women are flabbergasted by you and can’t stop wondering why you would willingly choose to be that “big.” Children are confused by you. There are those who think you’re weird. Others are turned on by you after one mere look and can’t stop obsessing over you. And all of the above cannot look away no matter how hard they try.

Am I generalizing a bit? Of course. But let me generalize to my heart’s delight.

Considering the world an FBB lives in, it’s not hard to see why more women don’t pursue this lifestyle. Personally, as an admirer of female muscle, I would love nothing more than for more women to look like Deidre Pagnanelli, Lauren Powers, Denise Masino, BrandiMae, Monica Mollica and Yvette Bova. But sadly, these fantastic and gorgeous lasses are the exception and not the rule.

If women with big biceps were the norm, I think a lot of problems with misogyny in our world would disappear (not completely, but significantly). If society at large openly encouraged women to lift at the gym instead of killing themselves doing endless cardio, we would be a lot healthier overall. Eating disorders would slowly regress. Sexism would dissipate. The dynamics of gender-based violence would change (I’m not an expert to say in what regards).

Random fitness girl on Instagram. Does anyone know her name?

Random fitness girl on Instagram. Does anyone know her name?

Therefore, as we all know, this is indeed a rarity. Which explains why female bodybuilders are as counterculture as you can get. A physically strong woman goes against every gender stereotype our culture has engrained inside it. A woman who’s stronger than a man only serves, as many of us unfortunately believe, to emasculate him. A woman with big muscles is a traitor to her gender. She will inevitably scare away men who are intimidated by her statuesque physique.

We’ve all heard this before in some form or fashion, haven’t we?

But I don’t feel that way. And most of you probably don’t either. But enough do to discourage most women from ever picking up a dumbbell at the gym. What a shame that is.

The reason why I’m asserting that female bodybuilders are the original hipsters is because, I’d argue, an FBB is truly countercultural. Unlike those who claim to be “countercultural,” a muscular woman proves it every day of her life.

There’s the conventional wisdom that someone who’s countercultural can’t actually admit to being countercultural. To self-label makes you vulnerable to being attacked.

You’re not really anti-establishment. You just want others to think you are so you can fit into certain social circles. Postmodernism, if my understanding is correct, is a worldview that aims to defy traditional labels and establish a more subjective manner of describing things. So anyone who claims to be a hipster really isn’t one.

This is why an FBB is really the only group of people who can legitimately claim to be outside the mainstream. Whether they openly admit to it or not, they are regardless. For all the reasons I just outlined, being a muscular woman is as far from “normal” as you can get. It’s an authentic alternative lifestyle that is immune to “wannabes” and “posers.”

Being an FBB isn’t something you can casually “be.” Either you are or you aren’t.

Think of it this way. How many of us went through a “hippie” phase during college? Even if you never attended college, maybe you had a similar experience at a different point in your life. The point being, remember that time in your life when you had a so-called intellectual and pseudo-philosophical “awakening” where you became the biggest anti-Establishmentarian in the known universe?

If so, how many of you eventually scrapped most of that crap once you entered the “real world” and saw things to be somewhere in between? I’m guessing a lot of you…myself included.

Another cute Instagram fitness girl. Yowza!

Another cute Instagram fitness girl. Yowza!

Most of us love the idea of being a hipster (or hippie, if you’re from a different era) more than actually being a hipster. We fell in love with the snarky glamour of being “different” instead of embracing the unique facets inherent in whatever makes you truly different. Do you listen to indie rock because you actually like the music…or because people around you are listening to it and you want to fit in?

College Hippie: Hey, Bob! Do you consider yourself an anti-Bourgeois, Proletarian-supporting Marxist liberal free-thinking “citizen of the Earth” socialist flower child?

Bob: Uh, sure. Why not?

This isn’t so with female bodybuilders. You can’t pretend to be one. You can’t put up a façade of being one, unlike people who like to think of themselves as a “don’t-tread-on-me” beatnik. You can’t fake being muscular. Your muscles are either big…or not big. Period.

But the problem with being anti-mainstream is that you never make any attempts to become, you know, mainstream. I really wish female bodybuilding and athletics would become more mainstream. That would be spectacular! Imagine turning on your TV, opening a magazine or glancing at a fashion ad in the mall and seeing ladies like Autumn Raby instead of Giselle Bundchen. I have nothing against Mrs. Tom Brady, but come on! Let’s give women like Ms. Raby some love!

All of us female muscle fans would cheer that on. Trust me.

So I guess this is one aspect to this discussion that I hope isn’t true. I don’t want female bodybuilders, athletes and fitness professionals to hide underground. I also don’t want society to reject them for being who they are. I want mainstream acceptance of female muscle, admiring female muscle and the idea of women lifting at the gym. This is what I want.

If it suddenly became “cool” for a woman to have toned muscles on her body instead of just skin and bones, then count me in!

I’d be as cool as a cucumber.