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.

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Addressing the Elephant in the Room: Female Bodybuilding and Steroids

Don't inject yourself with anything the shady guy on Facebook gives you. The sketchy guy on Twitter, on the other hand, is probably more reputable.

Don’t inject yourself with anything the shady guy on Facebook gives you. The sketchy guy on Twitter, on the other hand, is probably more reputable.

There’s a large elephant in the room that needs to be addressed.

No, it’s not Dumbo. Or Babar. Or any of the ones that carried historical figures like Hannibal or Alexander the Great into battle. We’re addressing a different kind of elephant, one that’s taking up entirely too much space but none of us are willing to acknowledge.

Sigh. As a female muscle fan, I’m not against talking about this subject, but it’s unavoidable. So here it goes.

Steroids.

There. I said it. Steroids. Steroids. Steroids. Steeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeroooooooooooooooids.

Steroids.

According to the world-famous online encyclopedia known as Wikipedia, steroids – or, in this case, anabolic steroids – are defined as:

“Anabolic steroids, technically known as anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), are drugs that are structurally related to the cyclic steroid rings system and have similar effects to testosterone in the body. They increase protein within cells, especially in skeletal muscles. Anabolic steroids also have androgenic and virilizing properties, including the development and maintenance of masculine characteristics such as the growth of the vocal cords, testicles (primary sexual characteristics) and body hair (secondary sexual characteristics).”

Got all that? I am not a scientist, so I don’t entirely understand the biological properties of anabolic steroids and what exactly they do to the human body. However, we basically all know what they do. They are drugs that help you develop muscle mass. They aren’t a magic pill that transforms you into Ronnie Coleman overnight, but they sure can help you get “big” if maximizing your size is your primary goal.

I will also admit that I am not an expert on the issue of drug use in the sport of professional bodybuilding. If you ask me questions about what policies the IFBB should change, how many pro bodybuilders (both male and female) use steroids, how to technically define “steroids,” or anything like that, I will shrug my shoulders and honestly tell you “I have no f***ing clue.”

I may not be that rude, but you get the point. I don’t have the time, patience, or inclination to diligently research this topic before writing this article. So I am no expert. Alright. Let’s move on.

None of us are naïve. We know many of our favorite bodybuilders and athletes “dope” in order to become and remain top elite competitors. When I look back upon the baseball legends I grew up watching during the 1990s and early 2000s, I now know many of them were “juicing” their way to 50+ home runs, 120+ RBIs and other statistics that earned them Hall of Fame consideration. Some of them are enshrined in Cooperstown, many of them are not – and may never will.

Does juicing still go on in pro sports? Of course. Without a doubt. Methods of testing have definitely improved, but no system is perfect. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. A few people are going to slip through the cracks here and there. Whatever. Just as long as we enjoy watching them play, does it really matter what substances they choose to put into their bodies?

Poor Barry Bonds. The poster child for steroid use in professional sports. He was one heck of a ballplayer regardless.

Poor Barry Bonds. The poster child for steroid use in professional sports. He was one heck of a ballplayer regardless.

Before I get too off track, let’s break down the topic of female bodybuilding and steroids in the most logical and honest way possible. Please, feel free to comment down below or send me an e-mail at ryantakahashi87 (at) yahoo (dot) com to provide your thoughts. Perhaps your perspective will differ from mine.

Whew. Okay, let’s dive into this deep swimming pool of mixed emotions head-first. Onward!

1. A lot of female bodybuilders take steroids, and that’s perfectly okay

It is a fact that many of our favorite FBBs take steroids to help them get big. It’s an undeniable fact. The reaction many people glean from this most likely sounds something like this:

See? She’s not that strong at all! The only reason why she’s bigger than most guys is because she juices, just like Lance Armstrong and Barry Bonds. I told you so! She’s not really that strong!!!

Fair point. Without the help of synthetic drugs, many FBBs would not be able to become bigger than a lot of men. But I think this criticism misses the larger point about why a lot of guys love female bodybuilders.

We love their beautiful bodies. We love looking at their hard work put on display. Steroids may enhance the fruits of your labor, but they do not replace your labor. No matter what drugs they take or how strategic they are in taking them, no FBB got to be that big without commitment, arduous hard work, dedication, smart planning and making enormous personal sacrifices. As mentioned before, steroids are not a magic pill that can transform Taylor Swift into Debi Laszewski with the flip of a switch.

Granted, lots of us who love FBBs admire them because they’ve achieved a level of muscle mass unmatched by guys who take the “natural” route. So I guess in that respect, we have to burst their bubble. Sorry. It’s not what you think it is.

But nevertheless, that’s not the point here. At the end of the day, we love muscular women because we think they’re tremendously beautiful. Regardless of how they got there, we appreciate the finished product with a degree of awe that’s unmatchable. In my opinion, it’s perfectly okay for a woman to take steroids if they will help her achieve her desired physique. Just as long as she’s safe and always takes her long-term health into consideration, I have no issue here. The elite bodybuilders have professional trainers and doctors advising them on which drugs to take, how many to take, when to take them, and how to determine when enough is enough. It becomes supremely dangerous when someone goes rogue and recklessly pops pills or injects themselves with God-knows-what without consulting an expert.

Don’t do that. It won’t end well.

I perfectly understand that a lot of huge muscular women take drugs. In fact, a few of the FBBs I’ve met in real life admit to taking drugs. But that doesn’t change my opinion of them one iota. They’re still strong gorgeous women who deserve immense praise for their hard work, steadfast belief in themselves and willingness to break social taboos in pursuit of their personal definition of “beautiful.”

As female bodybuilding fans, we’re not arbiters of truth and justice. We’re admirers of beauty. We love these women because they’re so incredibly beautiful. We know they would not be able to achieve that kind of muscularity without “help,” but what difference does that make? Just as we’re aware that many of our favorite celebrities undergo plastic surgery to look younger, slimmer or more beautiful, we love FBBs despite knowing their look may not be 100 percent “natural.”

2. Drugs is only an issue of ethics when we’re dealing with athletic competition

Overall, if a woman decides to use drugs to help her achieve an abnormal level of muscle mass, do we care if that helps her land photo gigs, video shoots and erotic session clients? No, we don’t. So at the end of the day, what difference does it make if our favorite female muscle celebrities (in our world, they’re totally celebrities!) are taking drugs to help them look a certain way? None whatsoever.

However, admittedly things change when we’re dealing with athletic competition. And not just bodybuilding – this includes basketball, tennis, MMA, softball, volleyball, sprinting, etc. No one wants a cheater to win the Gold Medal at the Olympics. But if that same person wants to earn a living becoming a muscle dominatrix to consenting adult clients, that doesn’t nearly matter as much.

So in reality, we only care about the ethics of doping when it comes to high stakes athletic competition. We all want a fair playing field. Whether we’re talking about HGH, spitting on baseballs or deflating footballs, no one wants to see a cheater win. It sucks. It makes you angry and lose faith in the integrity of the sport. Therefore, any professional league that wants to see itself exist in 20 years should vehemently crack down on illegal drug use to weed out the cheaters. It makes business sense.

If such a button existed where you could transform Taylor Swift into Debi Laszewski instantaneously, I would do it before you could finish your sentence.

If such a button existed where you could transform Taylor Swift into Debi Laszewski instantaneously, I would do it before you could finish your sentence.

But a female bodybuilder who uses her body to sell muscle worship appointments, video views and website memberships? She can do whatever the hell she wants with her body. It’s her body and her business. Let her take whatever she wants if she feels like it will help her earn a living. As female muscle fans, we don’t care. We love these women and their beautiful physiques. We shell out our hard earned dollars because we feel they’re worth it.

Know why? Because they totally are.

But when it comes to the business of professional (and high profile amateur) sports, where winners and losers are determined solely by head-to-head competition, we want fairness to be guaranteed in every conceivable way. It isn’t unethical to take drugs, unless you do so to earn an unfair advantage over someone who chooses not to. It’s as simple as that.

3. Repeated use of steroids do have side effects, but we’re totally fine with that

It’s no mystery the effects steroids can have on a woman’s body. Increased muscle mass and levels of testosterone can lead to a deepened voice, more body hair, shrunken breasts, more “masculine” facial features, balding, an enlarged clitoris (which, for the record, is not a penis), aggressive behavior, and other physical/emotional changes.

In fact, these side effects are what turn people off the most from female bodybuilders. Arguably, if female bodybuilders could maintain large muscle mass without having to sacrifice a single degree of traditional “femininity,” one could foresee a reality where FBBs would be way more popular in mainstream culture than they currently are. However, this is not the reality. So, society is stuck in this weird grey area of treating female bodybuilders as women who aren’t fully “women.” We know they are by definition, but there’s enough ambiguity going on to give us major pause.

It sucks for these women, but it is what it is. People have their prejudices. Changing them can be an almost unconquerable challenge.

But, alas, most female bodybuilding fans would argue the side effects inherent in steroid use are not that big of a deal. Or, more precisely, they’re not a deal breaker. Side effects are fine, just as long as they don’t cross certain boundaries.

This is perhaps one of the most common misconceptions about female muscle fetishism. Those of us who love muscular women don’t like all muscular women. Just because you love Italian food doesn’t mean you love every single Italian restaurant in existence. Truth be told, you probably despise more Italian restaurants than you love because of the fact that you’re such a snob. I can tell you from personal experience that there are a few prominent female bodybuilders whom I do not feel attracted to. While I can find a certain degree of beauty in almost all muscular women, overly masculine facial features and other “freaky” side effects totally turn me off. But that is usually the exception and not the rule.

Some people are disgusted by the masculinization effects of steroid use in muscular women. I get that. But the larger point is that female muscle fans are not unaware of that. We know that, accept it, and still find them beautiful despite their unconventional appearances.

4. Fantasy is almost always more appealing than reality

The truth is, the vast majority of guys who love female bodybuilders understand that many of them didn’t achieve high levels of muscularity “naturally.” We’re not naïve about how the world operates. We understand biological restrictions are almost impossible to break through. But this somewhat miss the point about a female bodybuilder’s appeal.

For a lot of us, we love female bodybuilders mostly because we love to fantasize about them. Who they are in real life is not as important as what exists in our imaginations. Of course, once we get to actually meet a few FBBs, we almost always end up liking them as people. But from a distance, fantasy is a powerful driving force in female muscle fandom.

Everyone’s fantasy is different. Worshipping her muscles. Treating her like a Goddess. Being her slave. Being punished for our naughty behavior. Finding out who the real “weaker sex” truly is. And so on. The fantasies may be different, but the general takeaway stays the same: reality isn’t that important.

Reality has its place, but not always. The vast majority of female muscle fans rarely get to personally meet (either in a public or private setting) their idols. Therefore, our fandom mostly consists of what’s in our imaginations. We love strong women for a variety of reasons. Whether there are elements of fantasy, BDSM, curiosity, sexual fetishism or something else entirely at play, who they really are, and how they got to be that big and strong, are secondary to us.

Some people are into Female Muscle Growth (FMG) stories and art. I am not really one of them. But if you are into that sort of thing, go for it.

Some people are into Female Muscle Growth (FMG) stories and art. I am not really one of them. But if you are into that sort of thing, go for it. Illustration by Grissse.

That isn’t to say that we disrespect who they are as people. On the contrary, most FBB fans have a tremendous amount of genuine respect for the women they idolize. I’d go as far as to say that we treat these women just the way modern day feminists want all women to be treated. So we aren’t indifferent toward who FBBs are as human beings. Rather, their drawing power is derived from the deep recesses of our imaginations.

So if we find out an FBB takes steroids, growth hormones and other supplements to achieve their superhuman muscularity, that isn’t an issue with us. We love the finished product. We love what their beautiful bodies do for our creative minds. The “spark” they provide us cannot be put into words, but rather images, thoughts and feelings that are almost impossible to articulate.

For many of us, the steroid issue isn’t an issue at all. We’re not ignorant about it. We’re not neglecting it. We just don’t care. People love to fantasize even though they know the foundation of their fantasies is built on a house of cards. It doesn’t matter. Reality has its place. So does fantasy. The lines shouldn’t always have to cross.

5. There will always be a little bit of denial going on

Admittedly, denial will always happen. Some people embrace the “ignorance is bliss” mantra. They know it’s happening but choose to either downplay or ignore it. I’m probably a bit in this category. I know many of my favorite FBBs take drugs. I know they might regret it in the future if (or when) the negative side effects come back to haunt them. I know it’s practically impossible for a woman to develop muscle mass that would make a male bodybuilder jealous without some “assistance.”

I get it. But I don’t always want to think about that. I love fantasizing about these strong beautiful women dominating the bullies who taunt them with sexist remarks. I love imagining what it would be like to make love to a gorgeous muscular woman without having to think about excess body hair or stinky odor that comes with taking steroids. I love thinking about all these things…knowing full well reality doesn’t always match up with fantasy.

When we live life through rose tinted glasses, we tend to idealize those we love. We hold them in higher regards than they deserve. We put them on a pedestal and worship the very ground they walk on. This leads, inevitably, to us overlooking their flaws. We justify their bad behavior. We pick-and-choose which parts of them to celebrate and which parts to ignore. In terms of muscular women, we revel in their strength without fully thinking about what it took for them to achieve that strength. We’re not stupid. We just don’t want to let facts get in the way of our fun.

Facts. Such an inconvenient cog in the engine, am I right? But alas, we know the deal. We know a woman cannot achieve that elite level of muscular development without “help.” We know freaky genetics, maniacal hard work, hardcore dieting and sheer willpower is not enough. We know natural biology cannot be altered overnight. Perhaps thousands of years from now women will evolve to become physically superior to men, but today is not that day. Whatever. Why spoil the fun?

6. What is the actual harm of using steroids?

This point is not meant to be scientific. I am perfectly aware that unwise steroid use can lead to cardiac problems, high blood pressure, liver issues and other negative health consequences. What I’m really trying to say is this:

What’s the big deal if woman uses steroids responsibly?

The answer is simple. It feels like cheating. In point #2, I discuss that steroids only really matter within the context of athletic competitions. That still rings true. But from a cultural perspective, using steroids to get big still feels like you’re “cheating the system.” Or, at the very least, cheating your natural biology.

Bodybuilding, whether you do it professionally or not, is the ultimate personalized sport. Victory or loss, however you define it, is purely determined by your own merit. Unlike team sports, a bad fumble or blown save by a teammate won’t cost you the game. You’re not even competing directly against anyone, such as in tennis or racquetball. The best comparison is golf, a sport in which you compete against others, but you’re mostly competing against yourself. But golf has elements such as weather and course conditions affecting the outcomes of games. Bodybuilding is a sport more based on preparation than game-day performance.

But more than that, a lot of us are amateur bodybuilders, whether we think of ourselves in those terms or not. Let’s face it. We don’t just go to the gym because we want to “stay healthy” or “shed a few pounds.” Some of us may think that way, but most of us workout because…well, we want to look good. We want to look good naked, as Kevin Spacey’s character in American Beauty states. He’s telling the truth. That’s 99 percent of the reason why we exert so much of our time and energy in the gym. We may not have any genuine aspirations to compete, but in our own little world, we’re all trying to develop biceps like Phil Heath.

I cannot confirm that Karen Zaremba was a "natural" bodybuilder, but I suspect she was.

I cannot confirm that Karen Zaremba was a “natural” bodybuilder, but I suspect she was.

This explains the backlash against steroid use in general, not just in the context of female bodybuilding. When we see someone walking around with bigger guns than us, we feel jealous. When we find out they had “help” building those huge arms, we feel a little better about ourselves knowing our inadequate gains can be explained by the fact we don’t “cheat.”

This simply explains why we get such a visceral gut reaction when we find out an FBB takes steroids. It feels like they’ve broken our trust. We feel betrayed that their impressive strength wasn’t achieved fairly. It makes us feel more secure about our own bodies knowing their superiority has an alternative explanation.

In conclusion, what is the actual harm of an FBB taking steroids responsibly? Well, not much. If it helps her advance her career, so be it. That’s none of our business. Is she betraying our trust? No, unless she explicitly lied about not taking drugs. Does that make her any less of a strong woman? Of course not. Steroids are not a magic pill that transforms you into a ripped comic book character with the snap of your fingers. Hard work still matters.

The “Steroid Issue” will always haunt bodybuilders, athletes and gym rats, both male and female. It’s unavoidable. In today’s world, it’s understandable why we’d all be suspicious. The proliferation of the underground drug market has expanded well beyond dark alleys and dimly lit parking lots. Online marketplaces, both on the so-called “surface web” and the nefarious-sounding “deep web,” make acquiring drugs as easy as it’s ever been.

But the flip side of the issue is this: As long as no one is getting hurt or gaining an unfair competitive advantage, what harm do steroids actually cause? Scientific issues aside, it’s mostly a blow to one’s personal sense of integrity.

Integrity. There we are. There’s the core of the problem. Integrity.

At the end of the day, we feel a bodybuilder’s integrity should be called into question if we discover they take steroids to help them get big. Personally, this knowledge does not make me change my opinion about any particular male or female bodybuilder. After all, building muscle is their primary goal. If they receive biomedical “assistance” along the way, so be it. I won’t judge them too harshly, especially when we live in an age where much worse crimes are being committed on a daily basis.

So there you have it. Undoubtedly, we will never settle this issue. Some will always feel uncomfortable by the presence of steroids in bodybuilding. Others will have no problem with it whatsoever. And there will be those who are either indifferent or undecided. Whatever. You can feel however you feel about it. Just know this: Everyone makes choices in their lives. These choices are made to help maximize how much they can get out of life. What jobs we work at, where we live, what foods we eat, who we choose to love, who we hang out with, what entertainment we partake in, etc. If a bodybuilder, male or female, believes taking drugs will help him or her maximize their own personal definition of “happiness” or “fulfillment,” I say we should let them. Of course, every choice has pros and cons. Taking steroids has drawbacks. It’s not a decision that comes risk-free. On the contrary, human growth hormones and the like can be very dangerous if they’re taken without proper medical consultation. This is why you should never trust the shady guy standing on a street corner or the anonymous vendor who sends you a cryptic message on Facebook.

Steroids are here to stay. Judge the people who take them however you want to. But keep this in mind: They take them for a reason. Do you fully understand that reason?

The Adventures of Ryan Takahashi: Chapter Sixteen – Round Two

Cindi and I both sit up and gaze into each other’s eyes. I cup her face and kiss her languorously, savoring the sweet taste of her delicious mouth. I want to experience Cindi through all five of my senses. She’s the type of complex woman who can be experienced in that way.

After our lips come apart, Cindi grabs my hips and pulls me on my back. Experiencing her brute strength further arouses me, as if I needed further help.

Once I’m on my back, Cindi stretches her enormous body above me and kisses me again. This time, she’s the one savoring every moment. Do I taste as sweet to her as she does to me? I highly doubt it.

The sensitive tip of my penis is now brushing against her muscled tummy. I feel a small drop of liquid leak out of my manhood and onto her eight-pack abs. I hope I’m not going to prematurely come again!

“I love you, Ryan,” she whispers into my ear as she grinds her tree trunk legs against my weaker legs.

“I love you too, Cindi,” I whisper back, caressing her thick back muscles. My arms barely reach around her wide torso. Her thickness further arouses my senses.

Did we just exchange affirmations of love? This is getting serious, by God! Or are we just caught up in the moment of sexual ecstasy?

Cindi tosses her head back, her black hair flying backwards out of her face. A single strand falls across her nose. She lets out a short, quick breath to blow it away. It remains in place. I think this is cute. She apparently agrees.

“Being sexy is not one of my best qualities,” Cindi confesses.

“Are you kidding me? You’re the sexiest woman in the world!”

“Thank you, but trust me, acting sexy isn’t really my thing. I’m not comfortable being that way, if you know what I’m saying.”

“That’s okay. Perfectly okay. Just act like yourself. That’s sexy enough for me.”

Cindi smiles widely, accentuating every age line on her face. I reach up and touch her jawline. She takes my fingers into her mouth and sucks on them slowly. My erect penis is now resting straight up across her belly. I swear, if she doesn’t do anything else except suck on my fingers, I might come just because of that!

“I appreciate hearing that, Ryan.” Taking my fingers out of her mouth, she begins to caress my nipples until they both stand up at attention. My fingers wet with her moisture, I mirror her actions and fondle her breasts. Cindi’s large brown areola and long nipples harden as we continue to stroke each other’s chests.

As I prepare to say something in return, Cindi hushes me up by grabbing the base of my penis and squeezing it tightly. I let out a moan of delight. Sensing my readiness (or at this point, over-readiness!), she raises herself onto her knees until her entire body is hovering over mine. The bed squeaks in protest, a direct reaction to a large, muscular woman shaking the very foundations of the Earth.

Slowly but surely, Cindi lowers herself until the entire length of my erect penis enters her vagina. Still hot and moist, Cindi is the antithesis of the stereotypical middle-aged woman who’s lost her sexual vibrancy. When it comes to good, old fashioned lovemaking, Cindi has not skipped a beat, even at the ripe age of 48.

After coming together at our most intimate parts, Cindi sways her hips back and forth and side to side, experimenting with various tempos to see what gives us both maximum pleasure. Her hands explore my shoulders as my hands greedily explore her abdominal muscles and thighs.

Straddling me like a horse, Cindi takes the cowgirl position into full throttle by bouncing her pelvis up and down my shaft, taking in every thrust as if it might be our last. I sure hope this night isn’t our last together!

“Yes, yes, yes!” Cindi growls, anticipating her impending climax. I also sense my own orgasm building, as I’ve stopped stroking her thighs and began gripping her hips to give me better leverage.

I moan loudly as Cindi’s up and down bouncing becomes more frantic, more passionate. She’s looking up at the heavens, her eyes closed, drinking in every sensual moment of our lovemaking. I feel my penis grow harder and harder, explosions of pure pleasure permeating through every fiber of it. I wonder if Cindi is feeling the same way.

As if she’s reading my mind, Cindi reaches down and rubs her clitoris with sudden urgency. Her breathing becomes wild, her inhibitions becoming a thing of the past. I look down and see she’s ferociously massaging her clitoris with three fingers as her pelvis thrusts reach a crescendo.

“Aaaaaaaaagggggghhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes, yes!!!!!!!!!!!” Cindi screams at the top of her lungs, her powerful vaginal walls contracting uncontrollably around me.

“Oooohhhhh!!!!” I moan in response as my orgasm reaches its peak. I empty more semen into her, but this time I do it not as an act of lust, but an act of love; an act of a man giving a woman his precious seed as an expression of his affection for her.

My spasms come to an end but my manhood remains impossibly hard, lodged deep inside her womanhood. Cindi collapses on top of me, her breasts digging into my neck. A drip of sweat rolls down her chest and lands on my tongue. She tastes salty but sweet at the same time.

Her strong, musky smell permeates out of every inch of her muscular body. Cindi’s black and gray hair sweep across my face. I still can’t believe I just made love to this Strong Muscle Goddess.

Eventually Cindi rolls off me and onto her side. We exchange a long, deep kiss. Our eyes meet. We kiss again.

“That was fun,” Cindi says breathlessly.

“No kidding. You were amazing. I think I like it better when you’re on top.”

She kisses me on the cheek. I rub her bottom, feeling her taut glutes flex as she shows off her amazing muscle control. How can she be in the mood to flex her muscles at a time like this?

“I’m drenched in sweat, Ryan. Look at me.”

I take a good look at her. Wow! Even with tangled hair, no makeup on her face and sweat dripping from every pore of her body, she still looks a million times more amazing than any other woman on planet Earth. Her glistening sweat shows off her bulging muscles, exaggerating all the curves and curves on top of other curves on her body.

“You look amazing, Cindi. Absolutely amazing.” Stroking her meaty shoulders, I’m reminded of one of those guys you’d see fake-beating someone up on the WWE. Except in this case, it’s not a man. It’s a woman.

“Thank you, lover,” Cindi whispers into my ear, nibbling on it playfully. Is there anything she can do that won’t turn me on? We just got done with round two, but I feel like I could go for round three! And right now, not in a few minutes…

“What are you thinking right now, lover?”

“Honestly? I’m still in shock.”

“In shock about what, darling?”

“In shock about the fact that I just made love to a female bodybuilder. Someone who’s stronger than anyone I’ve ever met. That’s still unbelievable to me.” I kiss up and down her powerful right arm, savoring every moment, enjoying every inch.

“I’m happy you feel that way. It must be a little unusual being with a woman like me.” Lifting her right arm up, she flexes, proudly showing off her gigantic bicep. She then bounces it up and down, a show of force that rips a chill down my spine all the way to my toes. I don’t think there’s ever been a woman alive in this universe who’s as strong as Cindi North.

“Have you ever met a woman who’s stronger than you?” I ask curiously.

She thinks about it for a moment.

“Yes. I’ve met lots of women who are stronger than me.”

“Are you being serious? Really? Who?”

“Oh, you don’t know them. When you go to as many shows and competitions as I have, you meet a lot of amazing people with unbelievable bodies. I’m sure I’ve met a girl or two who could lift more than me.”

“But do you know for sure?”

She thinks about it again for a moment.

“I think so. There are lots of women out there who are bigger than me.”

“Do they juice like you?” I still kiss her arm, completely oblivious about what I just said.

Cindi stops flexing her bicep and turns to me. I immediately cease kissing her. I sense I’ve said something wrong but I have no idea why. My eyes meet hers.

“Do you think I take steroids?”

I struggle to find the words to respond.

“Uh, um, I think so. But I wasn’t talking about you, I was talking about–”

“Let’s not talk about other people. Let’s talk about me. Do you think I take steroids?”

Uh oh. Did I offend her? Am I making a very large assumption that has no basis of truth? I’ve always assumed she juiced. I mean, take a look at her body! She’s absolutely huge and she has a man’s voice! The evidence certainly implies that she does, or does it?

“Yes…I do. Do you?”

Cindi sits upright and leans her broad back across the headboard of the bed. She stops touching me and scowls at me with contempt. I think I’m screwed; and not in the way that just happened to me a few minutes ago! “Screwed” as in I’m totally fucked because I totally fucked up. Oh, shit. Shit, shit, shit…

“No, I do not. I used to, but I don’t. Not anymore. I used to when I was younger, but not today. Not yesterday, not last year, not anymore.”

“Did I offend you?”

Cindi lets out a heavy sigh, closes her eyes and reopens them, staring off into space. She doesn’t seem angry, at least not to the extent that I’m expecting. Maybe I’m not screwed after all.

“Yes, you did. But I’m not surprised that you think I’m juicing. Look, I am big, bigger than most women. But I can assure you I’m not taking any steroids. I did…ten years ago, believe it or not.” Cindi resumes touching me by taking her right hand into mine. I exhale a deep breath knowing she isn’t completely livid at me.

“So…you used to take steroids?”

“Yes, when I was about thirty-seven or thirty-eight, I took steroids so I could become as big as I could possibly be. But that didn’t end up so well.” She stops talking. I should probably change the subject.

“I’m sorry I said that, Cindi. I didn’t know you didn’t. I especially didn’t know it was a sore subject for you.”

“That’s okay, Ryan. I’m fine. I just had a brief flashback from my past. No big deal.” Cindi kisses my cheek and makes her way down to my neck. I cup her breasts and tease her nipples leisurely as my way of apologizing.

NOTE TO SELF: NEVER TALK ABOUT STEROIDS AGAIN WHEN I’M AROUND CINDI NORTH. OVER AND OUT.

“Do you want to take a shower before bed?”

“Can I spend the night?”

“Yes. Do you want to spend the night?”

“Of course. If you’ll let me. I don’t want to intrude. I think I’ve intruded enough already.”

“Like I said, it’s no big deal. I was just a little offended you thought my muscles aren’t natural. They’re all natural, for your information.” Cindi stands up and poses next to her mirror. Showcasing several competitive bodybuilding poses, she demonstrates the enormous size and incredible definition of her muscles, much to the delight of her lone audience member.

Holy cow, I sense my erection returning again!

“Do you like what you see?”

Could there be a more obvious answer?

“Of course I like what I see! I absolutely love what I see. You’re astonishing, Cindi. Thoroughly astonishing. What’s there not to like? You’re all natural, baby!”

With that, Cindi picks me up like a newborn infant and carries me to the bathroom.

“Let’s take a shower together, lover.”