The Hyperfeminine Muscular Woman

Minna Pajulahti is too hot for words.

Female bodybuilders are no strangers to the hurtful accusation that they’re not actually women. That they aren’t feminine enough. That they’re turning into men or want to become men. That men aren’t going to like them because of their muscles. That “real women” don’t look like that. That they actually look like men. That they’re confused about their gender.

And so on and so forth.

These slurs are so common I’m guessing most FBBs have achieved the ability to mentally block them out. They have a filter installed in their brain that allows them to ignore stupid opinions that have no merit. At least, I hope so. I cannot imagine how dreadfully annoying it is to have your appearance mocked just because you choose to lift weights, supplement, and bulk up like any other gym bro. Or that your personal definition of “empowerment” requires you to look different than the other girls – and that not everybody is on board with that.

Because of this toxic reality, it is not surprising that many female bodybuilders have decided – whether this is intentional or not is difficult to assess – to counter these slanders by presenting themselves in explicitly feminine terms. Think of it as compensating for their lack of “traditional femininity” by acting more outwardly feminine than they normally would.

Some examples of this include:

  • Getting breast implants
  • Wearing a lot of makeup (even more than usual)
  • Wearing sexy dresses
  • Wearing stylish clothing
  • Smiling, laughing, giggling, and doing whatever she can to appear less “threatening”
  • Posting pictures on Instagram of her doing traditionally “feminine” activities like trying on new clothes, shoe shopping, kissing her boyfriend/husband, playing with dogs, playing with kids, being a “mom,” cooking, cleaning, etc.
  • Promoting brands/products/stores that are traditionally aimed at women
  • Doing porn in which she has sex with men, with the man (or group of men) being in the “dominant” role and the muscular woman in the “submissive” role
  • Or doing porn where the man and muscular woman are equals
  • Choosing not to talk if her voice is too low
  • Doing photoshoots in which her face is edited to look more feminine and less hard edged
  • Avoiding talking about steroids, hormonal supplements, and anything that can be perceived as compromising her “womanhood”

It saddens me to think that female bodybuilders do these things not because they want to but because they feel like they have to. Yet, I am torn on this topic. On one hand, I am a strong believer that everybody has the right to craft their own identity to be whatever they want it to be. They shouldn’t give in to pressure to conform, fit in, or go with the flow. On the other hand, if being “traditionally feminine” is what they genuinely want to do, then nothing should stop them from being that. It’s a tough line to draw in the sand because I do not know what every FBB is thinking and feeling.

Don’t mess with Jayne Trcka. She has handcuffs!

Maybe some FBBs actually enjoy doing activities that are considered “feminine.” Or maybe they do it because they don’t want to alienate anybody. Or, like I said before, they want to appear less “threatening,” as if the sight of a woman with big muscles is somehow considered inherently threatening. Threatening to whom, exactly?

The Hyperfeminine Muscular Woman is a fascinating case study. What do we think of her? Is she compromising her identity by pretending to be something she isn’t, or is that who she really is?

At the end of the day, we don’t really know. But I do know this phenomenon does exist. For example, I can’t recall where I saw this but I remember reading an Instagram post in which Minna Pajulahti says she sometimes acts overtly feminine because she doesn’t want people to think of female bodybuilders as not being real women. That’s paraphrasing her rationale, unfortunately. So she does things like deadlift a crazy amount of weight, drop the bar to the floor, and strike a Beyoncé-like pose at the end as the “kicker.” Why dance around and strike diva poses? Because it reinforces her femininity, which apparently gets compromised when she’s deadlifting, squatting, bench pressing, and lift a ton of weight.

I am not criticizing Minna, of course. I love her and would never do that! But I will acknowledge that I think it’s a bit sad that she feels the need to do this. Not tragic, but mildly sad. Being strong doesn’t mean she isn’t feminine. Doing masculine-labeled activities does not mean she isn’t feminine. Having a nontraditional physique does not mean she isn’t feminine. All of that is complete and utter bullshit.

Minna Pajulahti is a feminine woman. So is Victoria Dominguez. And Kathy Connors. And Jennifer Kennedy. And Gillian Kovack. And Rene Campbell. And Wanda Moore. And Lauren Powers. And Rhonda Lee Quaresma. And Dena Westerfield. And many, many others.

What do all these beautiful women have in common? They’ve all had their feminine identities questioned. Or challenged. Or denied. I’ve seen them labeled “trannies” or “dykes” and other idiotic slurs. The stupidity of people who feel compelled to insult and troll innocent people is boundless. But that is the world we live in today.

Rene Campbell isn’t here for your rude comments.

What makes the existence of the Hyperfeminine Muscular Woman so frustrating is that we don’t know if it’s genuine or not. Are they acting overtly feminine because that’s who they truly are or because that’s how they think society wants them to be? To segment that last part even further, do they act aggressively feminine because they want to be accepted by society (whatever that means) or because they feel the need to overcompensate? The negative stereotypes that surround female bodybuilders are real, hurtful, and pervasive. Perhaps some FBBs feel compelled to dispel these perceptions by acting way more feminine than they’d normally want to. Either way, it’s sad.

It’s sad because I don’t want any muscular woman to act differently just because they want to please others. That’s heartbreaking. I want female bodybuilders to be who they are and not apologize for it. If being traditionally feminine is who they are, so be it. If they feel more comfortable being “butch” or androgynous, so be it. If acting and appearing more masculine is what floats their boat, so be it. Regardless, I just want every FBB to feel at home in their own skin. Whatever that entails.

But I don’t want to dismiss the fact that outside perceptions do matter, even if we don’t want them to. As individuals, we do have to conform to certain social standards if we want to fit in. At least, whenever we’re in public. Especially in the professional world. Being viewed as a scary butch devil lady may be fun as an online persona, but it’s not going to help you land any customer service jobs. Many FBBs are also personal trainers. They can’t appear too intimidating if they want to gain new clients.

There’s also the moral obligation to consider on top of this. When female bodybuilders choose to act and look “hyperfeminine,” are they actually doing harm to femininity without realizing it? For example, we tend to hold narrow views of what masculinity and femininity look like. It shouldn’t take a Gillette ad campaign to tell us that. Shouldn’t FBBs act however they want to act as a statement that “feminine” can be a much larger tent than it currently is? This could also challenge whether or not “masculinity” and “femininity” are real things. Or to what extent we’re allowed to box in people in these categories.

Roxanne Edwards slaying the bodybuilding stage.

It’s unfair to demand that every popular female bodybuilder is obliged to be an ambassador for female bodybuilders everywhere. They are not symbols. They are individuals. Yet, this obligation is unavoidable. Every time an FBB makes an appearance on TV or in a mainstream Hollywood movie, they represent FBBs as a whole – whether they want to or not. Jayne Trcka appeared in Scary Movie (2000) as the comically androgynous gym teacher Miss Mann. She was great in it, even though I cringe watching her scene. It plays for laughs every single negative stereotype you can imagine regarding muscular women. It reinforces the perceptions that women like Cindy Landolt and Aspen Rae shatter with every new Instagram post. Yet, they aren’t invited to appear in movies or TV shows.

But I am not criticizing Jayne. She’s awesome. She’s beautiful, smart, funny, and kind. She isn’t traditionally feminine, but there’s no doubt she’s a woman. She’s a 100% woman. She doesn’t have a secret penis tucked between her legs. And I totally understand why she took that role. You don’t say “no” to a mainstream Hollywood gig. Unless you’re Leonardo DiCaprio or Margot Robbie and you have studios begging you to be in their movie, most working actors have to accept whatever job is available to them. So I don’t begrudge Jayne one bit. I don’t blame her. And I hope none of you do either.

Therefore, Hyperfeminine Muscular Women are caught between a rock and a hard place. They’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Female bodybuilders who make absolutely no attempt to act more feminine are also making a difficult choice. They’re also stuck in a Catch-22. But at the end of the day, all this boils down to us. Whether we choose to accept a muscular woman for who she is depends entirely on us. Not her. We choose to embrace her butchness if that’s the road she’s chosen to traverse. We also choose to deny her femininity if she doesn’t uphold our personal standards of what femininity means. It’s a choice. A personal choice. We can either love her for who she is…or not.

Personally, I’ve never questioned the gender identity of any female bodybuilder. Even the ones who are the most masculine presenting. The ones with the deep voice, shrunken breasts, abrasive personality, large muscles, masculine facial features, and large bulge in their panties. They are women, even if 99% of us don’t acknowledge it. They aren’t tearing down femininity; they’re redefining it. Or expanding it. Or challenging us to rethink how we define gender as it is.

The truth is that the “Hyperfeminine Muscular Woman” persona is a performance. The Traditionally Feminine Muscular Woman isn’t. Most likely, an FBB who acts really, really, really, really feminine is putting on a show. She’s intentionally playing a part. She’s an actor and all the world’s a stage. And we are the audience, even if some of us are throwing popcorn at the performers like low-life jerks.

Or do you prefer someone as unquestionably feminine as Courtney Tillia?

This makes me sad. As it should all of you who sympathize with these ladies. When push comes to shove, I want every FBB in the world to feel comfortable in their own skin. I want them to embrace themselves. After all, how can anyone love you if you can’t even love yourself? I want every FBB to wake up each morning, look themselves in the mirror, and say to their reflection “Damn, I look good!” I want these ladies to take joy in looking the way they look, regardless of what anyone else says.

If they feel beautiful with a butch haircut, tattoos, and piercings everywhere, I support that.

If they feel beautiful with long flowy hair, glowing skin, and pouty red lips, I support that.

If they feel beautiful wearing makeup, I support that.

If they feel beautiful wearing no makeup, I support that.

If they feel beautiful slaying in a sexy red cocktail dress, I support that.

If they feel beautiful wearing sweatpants and a hoodie, I support that.

If they feel beautiful acting flamboyantly sexy, I support that.

If they feel beautiful acting quiet, humble, and lowkey, I support that.

If they feel beautiful with big bulging muscles, I support that.

If they feel beautiful with smaller curvier muscles, I support that.

If they feel beautiful playing the “tough girl” role, I support that.

If they feel beautiful playing the “nice girl” role, I support that.

Hopefully, you get my point. I want every muscular woman to feel empowered to be who they are. I wish every FBB can one day figure out who they truly are. Not everyone reaches that point of self-realization. This conversation shouldn’t have anything to do with haters, critics, or trolls. They can go to Hell. Instead, this should be more focused on what muscular women want out of their lives. Do they want to change the world, or do they just want to change themselves? It doesn’t matter as long as they eventually find the path they want to walk down.

And once they reach the end of that path, nothing should stand in their way. Not the haters, not anyone. Because it doesn’t matter what anyone says. When a female bodybuilder is at the peak of her powers, she isn’t listening to what the outside world thinks of her. She’s only celebrating her accomplishments, her goals, her dreams, her life. She’s at her most beautiful when she’s doing this one simple thing:

Being herself.

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The Vulnerable Female Bodybuilder

The seemingly invincible Ginger Martin.

Female bodybuilders are strong. They seem invincible. Unstoppable. Powerful. Authoritative. A force of nature. One who shall not be reckoned with.

If you mess with her, she’ll mess with you. And you don’t want that to happen to you. Trust us.

Fans of female bodybuilders have put these ladies onto a pedestal, one in which they don’t seem to be human. FBBs are often described in quasi-spiritual terms; using words such as “goddess,” “angel,” or “queen.” These words evoke ethereal images of immortals walking amongst men. FBBs are somehow not human because a “normal” human can never actually look that breathtakingly beautiful. Regular human beings are not able to make your heart skip a beat, your jaw drop to the floor, and a chill run down your spine just by simply posting an untouched photo of themselves on Instagram.

But alas, many FBBs are able to do just that. Many times over, in fact.

Yet, in the back of our minds we know that FBBs are not actually goddesses. They are flesh and blood human beings with feelings, thoughts, fears, insecurities, families, hobbies, and faults. We know that intellectually, on a theoretical level. But emotionally, we cannot help but view these ladies as invulnerable angels whose unique beauty somehow endow them with some sort of shield against typical human imperfections.

In our fantasies, our favorite FBBs are warriors who can slay thousands of enemies at a time. They’re powerful deities who can make the most formidable kingdoms tremble to their knees. They’re sirens who can enslave men to do their will. They’re so breathtakingly beautiful you cannot imagine a moment when they’d ever be sad, intimidated, or not in control.

Yet…

…yet we know the reality of things is much more mundane. But we don’t want to think about that. We’d rather focus on an FBB’s perfections instead of her basic humanity. However, it is worthwhile to keep this important point in mind: Female bodybuilders are much more vulnerable than you’d think.

Here’s why:

First, female bodybuilders exist in a world that doesn’t always accept them for who they are.

The aesthetic of a woman with big muscles certainly excites some of us, but not all of us. As incomprehensible as this sounds, not everyone appreciates the beauty of female bodybuilders. Some are disgusted by a nontraditional feminine figure that doesn’t fit into the narrow box society has come to define. This could be caused by people not liking what they’re not familiar with, but it goes deeper than that.

They’re disgusted because the sight of veins popping out of a muscular arm isn’t terribly appealing – regardless of the gender of the person it belongs to. But especially if it’s a female arm. We’re taught to believe that a beautiful woman should be smooth, angular, and soft. Female bodybuilders are not smooth, angular, and soft. They’re rough, bulky, and coarse. Their bodies do not fit within the acceptable parameters society (properly understood, that is) has arbitrarily established. And because of that, female bodybuilders are always at a disadvantage when it comes to breaking into the entertainment and modeling industries. Even the fitness industry seems to prefer the “fit” look instead of the hypermuscular look.

This lack of acceptance has pushed the female bodybuilding community underground, away from mainstream attention. Is there any need to bring up the unfortunate demise of the Ms. Olympia contest?

Of course, there will always be the token role in a sitcom for a “muscle chick” who shows up, looks menacing, and does something comedic to the male star like kick his ass or wallop him at arm wrestling. They’re not there as a character, but as comedic foil. It’s a bit dehumanizing, but when it’s slim pickings in the entertainment industry, beggars can’t be choosers. You have to accept whatever paying job you can get. Jayne Trcka’s role in Scary Movie (2000) exploits every single negative stereotype about female bodybuilders you can possibly imagine. But from her perspective, it’s a paying job in a major Hollywood production. Can you really blame her?

Kathy Johansson enjoying fun in the sun.

Second, and this point is directly related to the first one, female bodybuilding isn’t a very lucrative profession.

There’s almost no money to be made through competitions. Traditional modeling jobs don’t pay a whole lot no matter what your body type happens to be. You can work as a personal trainer or fitness coach, but being a bodybuilder isn’t necessarily an advantage. It’s not a disadvantage (as far as one can tell), but there are no “bonus points” to be had from being a bodybuilder except for it gives you an extra sense of validity. But not everyone thinks that’s a deal breaker.

And living the life of a bodybuilder isn’t cheap either. The food and supplementation alone costs quite a bit of money if you’re trying to eat clean, often, and strategically. It takes time to go to the gym, lift, do cardio, stretch, shower, and go home to eat and devour a protein shake. It’s challenging to balance working full time, training as a bodybuilder (even if you’re not competing professionally), and enjoying personal time with friends and family. It boggles the mind to ponder how male and female bodybuilders are able to do it.

In other words, female bodybuilders are essentially normal people like us with much different kinds of living expenses. Unlike pro baseball or basketball players, pro bodybuilders aren’t making $20 million per year. They need to hold down a regular 9-5 job just like the rest of us, except squeeze in several hours of training on top of that. You don’t need to be a life coach to understand the difficulties of balancing all of these priorities.

But where exactly is the money at? Well, one can make plenty of dough if they’re willing to offer muscle worship or wrestling sessions. Which conveniently transitions us to our next point:

Being a session provider can be a risky business.

If you need a primer on what “muscle worship” means, you can read all about it in a prior post. While most of us think (and fantasize) about muscle worship and wrestling sessions from the perspective of the client, we mustn’t ignore the provider’s side of the story. Even if rules are set and established beforehand, participating in a fantasy wrestling session can be quite risky.

You never know when you’ll accidentally get injured. Or intentionally get injured by someone with less-than-honorable intentions (there are a lot of strangely insecure guys who feel like they have something to “prove” to a well-meaning FBB who is just trying to earn a living). Or meet a creepy person who stalks you afterward – both online and perhaps even in-person. Stalkers affect all sorts of people, but female bodybuilders are a special breed. They’re as rare as a solar eclipse, which can drive a person whose mental state is already “shaky” at best to do things that definitely cross the line of sane behavior.

For these reasons, FBBs often lay down ground rules before the session even begins. They want to know how much you weigh if you’re interested in “lift and carry” activities. They want to make clear that the wrestling is for fantasy purposes only, as opposed to being a recreation of the Olympic trials. They want to be clear that “tap out” rules will be honored by both sides. In other words, they want to know that they – and the participant – will be safe at all times.

Honest accidents without any malice will inevitably happen from time to time. That is unfortunate, but a reasonable risk one faces when engaging in such strenuous activities. If you want a job without any physical hazards, get a desk job where you sit at a computer and type all day long. But that is not what an FBB who offers muscle worship/fantasy wrestling appointments chooses to do.

A coy looking Tina Nguyen.

Injuries stink for obvious reasons. They hurt, can lead to future health problems, and can be demoralizing. Injuries also inhibit your ability to train, work, travel, and live comfortably. And when your body and health are central to your income stream, being hurt is a double whammy. It’s difficult to earn a living when you’re preoccupied with healing up from a recent torn ligament or fractured bone.

Any lifestyle that is that physically demanding with carry with it inherent risks. And when you throw in clients who may or may not be familiar with you (not every session provider asks for a reference or makes background checks), you never know what sort of person you’ll be spending the next hour or two with. That can be a scary proposition, no matter how emotionally and physically strong you are.

On top of all that, travelling from city to city takes you away from your friends and family for long stretches of time. It’s hard to imagine what that type of life is like unless you’ve lived it. If you have young children – or even older children – being away from them for long periods of time can be stressful. Think of it from the mother’s perspective. Then the children’s. See why this can be a volatile profession?

The next point goes along with that concept: Being a female bodybuilder can be really awkward at times – both for you and your loved ones.

Can you imagine being a little kid and having a mom who “doesn’t look like the other moms?” She’s a lot bigger, stronger, and physically imposing than Billy and Jimmy’s moms. She even has a deeper voice, smaller boobs, and more veins popping out of her arms than is typically considered, uh, typical. And she can bench press more than all the dads out there.

Talk about awkward.

This idea is directly connected to the first point about FBBs living in a world that doesn’t always accept them for who they are. This explores that very concept from everyone else’s perspective.

The older kids get, the more vicious the rumors will become. It doesn’t take a hardboiled private detective to find out what happens at those mysterious muscle worship sessions. It doesn’t take an avid porn aficionado to stumble upon an obscure video of an FBB giving a blow job or hand job to a nameless and faceless beta male client. This sort of information is out there for anyone who is willing to search for it. And not every blog is as respectful as the one you’re currently reading right now. Some blogs and comment sections (ah, yes. The dreaded “comments section” that has single-handedly contributed to the catastrophic dumbing down of our society) can be quite crude in describing what goes on behind closed doors. And come to think of it, it isn’t necessarily crudeness that makes this an issue. Just the basic knowledge that prominent FBBs provide sessions as a side gig is enough to get people to chat, gossip, and speculate on what actually is going on in those remote hotel rooms.

Rumors are rumors, but when rumors are spread widely and loudly enough, they start to become “fact,” even if they are not actually facts. No need to bring up “fake news,” is there?

Can you imagine being a normal kid who does a Google search on your mom and discovers she gives hand jobs to hundreds of guys across the world each year? And she does it for cash that eventually will help fund your college tuition? Talk about an epic discovery that you’d want to erase from your memory “Eternal Sunshine-style.”

Can you imagine being teased for this by the other kids whose parents are more “normal,” if such a thing even exists? Perhaps your FBB mama is remarkably open about her life’s work. Or maybe she tries to shield you from it. In today’s Internet age, it’s nearly impossible to keep something like that under wraps forever. Eventually, the truth will come out if you wait long enough. Nothing can stay hidden for good. Not anymore. We’re far beyond that point. If there’s a grainy video of you – even if this video is more than twenty years old – doing something even slightly embarrassing (never mind performing sexual acts on strangers), you know for a fact it will eventually smack you in the face. Usually when you least expect it. And especially when you don’t ask for it.

Kiana Phi showing off her hard work.

Here’s a true story that I feel compelled to share: Not too long ago a real-life female bodybuilder whom I’ve met for a muscle worship session once before contacted me via e-mail about a recent blog post I had written. She kindly asked that I remove a photo of her that appears in it. The blog article wasn’t about her specifically, but I wanted her picture to be in it because I like her so much.

I dutifully did remove it, carrying out her request as swiftly as I could. She didn’t want her name and reputation to be tarnished. She didn’t want to be associated with an underground subculture that could come back to haunt her, her husband, and her kids.

She didn’t want her daughters to be teased about what their beloved mama does with men in hotel rooms across America. Even if these rumors aren’t based in reality, that doesn’t matter. Harmful gossip is harmful regardless of its truthfulness. I removed her photo because I didn’t want to upset her, but I also did so because I instantly put myself in her shoes. I choose to remain anonymous on this blog because I wouldn’t want my friends and family to know about my unusual fetish. I can grant myself anonymity with very little effort on my part. For an FBB who is considered a “celebrity” in the eyes of many people worldwide, they do not have that luxury.

Public figures cannot control what people say about them. And not everyone can pay a high-quality spin team, PR representative, or “search engine scrubber” who can find creative ways to hide bad stuff said about you. It’s just not possible in today’s interconnected and plugged-in world to totally control your online reputation. I can create a Ryan Takahashi avatar and establish whatever persona I want to. Public figures cannot do that as easily.

Isabelle Turell – what a woman!

This is something I must – and the rest of you, too – keep in mind at all times. When you write about an FBB, wrestler, or session provider on an Internet chat forum, you’re not just communicating to the people with whom you’re directly corresponding. You’re also spreading information – and this includes both accurate and inaccurate information – to the world at large. That’s someone’s reputation. That’s someone’s mom, sister, wife, friend, or lover. That’s another human being, not a brand new air conditioner that deserves a four star rating out of five.

When you call her a whore, you’re saying that about a person with feelings. When you reveal what goes on behind closed doors without honoring her anonymity, you risk harming her reputation. It makes perfect sense why many FBBs are reluctant about allowing people to write reviews about them on chat forums. Who knows what some disgruntled yahoo will say to a captivated audience?

Female bodybuilders are some of the strongest willed people on planet Earth. But they are not invincible. They are flesh and blood human beings who are just as vulnerable as you or I. They may not seem like it in the fever pitch depths of our imaginations, but this is the truth. They are vulnerable, often times in ways you cannot see or understand.

Alpha Females, Beta Males, and Everybody in Between

Debbie Bramwell-Washington is without question an Alpha Female.

Generally speaking, don’t generalize. This isn’t a rule so much as a modest recommendation. Sometimes, our generalizations can be fairly accurate (i.e. the weather tends to be hot during the summer months and cold during the winter months), but other times our generalizations are not even close to being fair or accurate (i.e. Chinese food is icky because all they eat are dogs).

Within the female muscle fan community – and believe it or not, such a community actually exists, albeit in the online world – the theme of “Alpha Female/Beta Male” consistently comes up. It’s become a cliché by now. Of course, just because it’s a cliché doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right or wrong. The truth is probably closer to it being an overgeneralization. We’ll get to that in a moment.

The existence of the idea of the muscular Alpha Female shouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, leading the life of a professional (or dedicated amateur) bodybuilder isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires both mental and physical strength. It takes persistence, passion, guts, and unwavering self-confidence. It takes the ability to persevere despite inevitable setbacks. It takes the will to make tough decisions when the easiest choice is to say “I give up.” It requires you to take the path least traveled when no one will blink an eye if you were to instead take the road most traveled.

The type of person who would be willing to subject themselves to such a grueling lifestyle is most likely the most alpha among us. Professional bodybuilding isn’t for the weak or feeble minded. Even amateur bodybuilders, who don’t formally compete but still maintain an impressive amount of musculature year-round, cannot look the way they look without making sacrifices most of us wouldn’t even dream of doing.

Even though the very concept of “alpha” is subjective (and therefore, not an actual thing that can be quantified or narrowly defined), we’ll just assume its existence is – for the most part – real. Alpha Females are women who take control of their lives, pursue their dreams with absolutely no apology, and more often than not get what they want. Female bodybuilders should wholeheartedly belong in this category.

Alright, the other side of the equation is the concept of the Beta Male. Unlike Alpha Females, Beta Males are weak-minded, lack the will to get what they really want, and allow others to trample all over them. They are quiet, don’t assert themselves when faced with adversity, are perfectly willing to settle for less than they deserve, and aren’t prone to engaging in (as they see it, unnecessary) confrontation. Blah, blah, blah. Just take a few minutes doing a Google search of “beta male” and you’ll come across bloggers that range from idiotic “PUAs” to bizarre conspiracy theorists claiming the Illuminati is plotting to culturally emasculate men worldwide for the sake of implementing the New World Order. Rest assured yours truly doesn’t fall into either of these groups.

How would you react if you saw Isabelle Turell walk by you dressed like this?

Like the Alpha Female, the Beta Male is a socially-constructed stereotype that exists mostly from a pop culture point-of-view, as opposed to objective scientific standards. We can probably name a few Beta Males off the top of our heads, whether it’s from our high school days or the people we interact with at work (or maybe you can look in the mirror and point to yourself). No matter your perspective, it’s not difficult to surmise why this type of person would be attracted to women with lots of muscle.

As this line of thinking goes, Beta Males are too weak to take care of themselves. They have low self-esteem and would prefer if others could make big decisions instead of them. Alpha Females, especially of the highly muscular variety, perfectly encapsulate that missing puzzle piece. They are the complementary element that Beta Males find so darn alluring. They are strong – both emotionally and physically – and don’t hesitate to make bold decisions that they find to be empowering. Female bodybuilders are who Beta Males wish they could be, to put it in horrifically simplistic terms. This may or may not be true, but this sure represents the “logic” of plenty of people who are keen on following FBBs.

The Alpha Female/Beta Male motif looks solidly reasonable on the surface. Of course the type of guys who love FBBs are weak, feeble-minded man-children who sexualize an ideal they can never actually achieve in real life. It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Well, maybe not.

No doubt this concept describes a portion of the FBB fandom community, but certainly it doesn’t represent everyone’s personal story. Many men who love female bodybuilders are normal guys who have wives or girlfriends, high paying jobs, families, and stellar reputations. Others are of more modest financial means…but they are still confident in who they are. Not everyone can be clumped into the same surface-level demographic, but we already knew that.

Kim Buck will buck the trend that women with muscles can’t be sexy.

When you boil everything down to its barest essentials, guys love female bodybuilders not just because of who they are, but because of who these ladies are. They’re strong, beautiful women who possess gorgeous bodies, captivating personalities, and inspiring biographies. We can scroll through Minna Pajulahti’s Instagram feed and say to ourselves “hot damn!” without that response being an indication of who we are. We see photos of a beautiful woman and we react accordingly. It’s as simple as that.

Or is it? Understandably, matters get murky when we’re dealing with nontraditional-looking women like female bodybuilders. If you like something that’s so far outside the mainstream, isn’t that an indication that there must be something a little “off” with you? Not at all, but it’s understandable why outside observers would think this way.

The truth is that female bodybuilding fans run the gamut of personality types. Some are meek, others are more assertive. Female bodybuilders themselves are also a diverse bunch; as they come from a wide range of countries, cultures, and backgrounds. Of course, the truth isn’t nearly as exciting as what dwells in our imaginations. We believe all FBBs are forceful Alpha Females not because we actually believe that, but because we want to believe that. We love imagining a strong gorgeous muscular woman dominating in the bedroom. We fantasize about what she’d do to us if we’re naughty…or if we’re completely obedient. We want her to ravage us, use us for her own selfish pleasure, and discard us the moment we become obsolete. We want to be denigrated like that because it makes her seem that much more powerful and us that much more irrelevant.

Is this a Beta Male way of thinking about sexual relationships? Maybe, or perhaps this is just a fun bit of “role reversal” where the FBB takes control of the situation while we’re the ones who are more passive and “just along for the ride.” Nobody wants to have to be in control 24/7/365. Every so often, we want to let go and allow somebody else to shoulder this burden. If a beautiful female bodybuilder is the one to do that, so be it. You won’t hear us complain.

Alright, so not every FBB is an Alpha Female and not every FBB fan is a Beta Male (or Beta Female, if that’s the case). So what? What’s the significance here?

Well, not much outside of the fact that these stereotypes exist and will probably continue to exist for time immemorial. But consider this:

The prevailing perception of the “Alpha Female/Beta Male” theme isn’t harmful, but it isn’t entirely productive either. One might presume that guys who love female bodybuilders would take offense to the notion that they’re weak and socially emasculated. That assumption is correct. But that’s not the only harm that this causes. The other is that it continues to make female bodybuilders appear “weird” and “fetishistic” instead of who they actually are: world-class athletes.

Monique Jones gets what she wants.

Often times, we tend to treat certain people or groups of people with suspicion not because of who they are, but because of who their fans are. It’s perfectly reasonable to like a certain TV show or singer but be completely annoyed by their fawning fans. It’s also perfectly reasonable to not like a certain TV show or singer for reasons that have nothing to do with the temperament of their loyal supporters. What isn’t reasonable (but isn’t a crime against humanity, of course) is disliking something purely because you can’t stand how the screaming fanboys and fangirls behave on the Internet. Yet, it’s difficult for many of us to make this distinction.

Along the same train of thought, some people might be turned off by female bodybuilders and the world of female bodybuilding because they find their fans a bit distasteful. They leave creepy comments all over their Instagram posts. They publicly announce all sorts of gross sexual activities they’d love to do to them. They appear to have no filter and don’t think all too much about who is actually reading these comments. These behaviors have a way of turning people off to whatever you love.

Female bodybuilders are already considered outside the mainstream. Their fans are also perceived to be outside the mainstream, despite the fact a vocal minority doesn’t speak for the entire group. Although to be fair, there really isn’t such a thing as a “vocal” delegation of the female bodybuilding fandom community. We don’t have lobbyists playing golf with members of Congress, to my knowledge.

One way to help FBBs enter into mainstream culture – assuming this is even a unified goal of ours – is to portray them as being perfectly normal women who happen to look abnormal. In many respects, that’s exactly who they are. But not everyone in our culture is buying that argument. They see videos of guys wearing leather masks with an FBB’s massive thighs wrapped around their heads and they think to themselves, “Um, that’s weird!”

To be fair, that sort of behavior isn’t something you witness every day. Yet, it does exist. But so do the countless number of people who love FBBs simply because they appreciate their unique beauty. FBBs are in fact uniquely beautiful, with the experience of “getting” their beauty indescribable. The experience of seeing a gorgeous confident woman with big muscles is so euphoric it can seem like a drug. It’s hard to articulate into words what this is like. Female bodybuilders are so damn beautiful it’s maddening to many of us why more people don’t feel the same way we feel. Shouldn’t FBBs be front and center on every magazine cover across the country? We think so, but the vast majority of our culture does not.

Stereotyping all female bodybuilders as Alpha Females and all fans of female bodybuilders of Beta Males is not only factually inaccurate, it contributes toward limiting our society’s understanding of this world. It makes us think that the two groups are somehow inextricably linked, that FBBs need weak men just as much as weak men need FBBs. This association cheapens FBBs as being a mere product of what certain guys want. Or that men who are perceived as being weak are that way because of women who are perceived as being strong.

Rita Sargo proving that muscles and femininity can go hand-in-hand.

These oversimplifications just perpetuate our dualist culture that puts people into two distinct categories (e.g. alpha/beta male, oppressed/liberated female, liberal/conservative, patriotic/unpatriotic, smart/dumb, educated/uneducated, poor/rich, abled/disabled, etc.) without recognizing nuance, individualized circumstances, and context. This harms the way we treat people whom we believe are “different” from us, even though they’re probably more similar to us than we realize. Imagine that.

When faced with something that’s totally out of the ordinary, the natural reaction is to try to put it into “proper context.” The logic follows like this:

  1. Female bodybuilders are unusual-looking women
  2. Guys who like female bodybuilders like women who are unusual-looking
  3. Therefore, guys who like female bodybuilders must be unusual themselves

Unfamiliarity breeds cognitive dissonance. We don’t like not being able to understand something, so we try to explain it away in terms that make sense to us. If we see weird Internet videos of guys enjoying being trampled on by a “chick with muscles,” then we must therefore assume every guy who loves female bodybuilders are into the same thing. And only “losers” enjoy being in a subordinate position. It makes perfect sense!

Except it doesn’t. The truth is much more complicated. The truth is that men and women from all walks of life comprise the world of female bodybuilding fandom. Some might in fact fit the stereotypes that we’re all familiar with. Others do not. This is not to play the “percentages game” and argue that a majority of us are not “like that.” Not at all. The only point to be made is that the Alpha Female/Beta Male concept is not inaccurate, but it’s also not comprehensive enough.

Perceptions take a long time to change. Many perceptions will never change. But there’s no use screaming at a brick wall that will not budge no matter what. That’s an exercise in futility. And if there’s one thing we can definitively say about female bodybuilders, it’s that when they exercise, they expect to see results.