Beautiful Monsters

Monster - Isabelle Turell

Isabelle Turell is one beautiful Lady Hulk.

Growing up I’ve always been a huge Godzilla fan. I was first introduced to the franchise when I saw the original 1954 film on VHS as a little kid. Yes, it was the American version featuring English dubbing and Raymond Burr unnecessarily shoe-horned in for no good reason other than to give U.S. audiences a white person to identify with, but it was nevertheless the landmark film that introduced the world to Godzilla. Despite Perry Mason.

As if the Big Fella himself wasn’t enough of an attraction!

I may have been eight or nine years old when I first watched it. Then I saw several of the “Godzilla vs. <Insert Name of Random Kaiju>” movies. I believe those films are known as the Toho Showa Era. Some were better than others. I always loved Mothra and King Ghidorah (this may sound blasphemous, but I was never really a fan of Mechagodzilla), and will appreciate the underrated Gigan.

And yes, I am secretly a fan of the horrible 1998 Roland Emmerich film starring Matthew Broderick and Jean Reno. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine. Sue me.

Just kidding. Don’t sue me. I have very little for you to take…

Do I like other monster movies? Of course. King Kong is a classic. I think the original 1933 film holds up pretty darn well. It’s not just a “classic movie” that deserves recognition because it’s historically important. It also works as a solid piece of entertainment. Even for our modern standards. There’s something refreshing about seeing a puppet move via old-time stop-motion animation instead of everything just being animated by CGI artists in a dark sterile room.

Both Godzilla and King Kong are not just silly monster movies. They’re allegories for societal fears of the time. Yes, the filmmakers insist that King Kong isn’t a racist archetype of black men in America, but you can insert your own meaning into a story about a wild animal being captured in the jungle and brought to “civilized” society only to run amok and go on a rampage. At the end of the day, King Kong can be interpreted as a warning against the Western world exploiting the Third World (or “exotic” world) for glamour and fame. Or it can be an allegory of immorality of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Allegory.

Godzilla is more obvious in its messaging. It’s a parable of the Atomic Age and a metaphor for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It’s critical of nuclear weapons, the fallout of nuclear testing on the environment, and the foolish nature of the U.S./Soviet Cold War. Godzilla is the offspring of humanity’s destructive nature, a constant reminder that death and destruction only begets more death and destruction. Not less. It was Japan’s way of coping with the traumas of World War II – both the traumas they suffered and the traumas they caused.

Monster - Godzilla

Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Need I say more?

Like Frankenstein’s monster, Godzilla is the result of mankind playing God. In this case, mankind created massive weapons of war and decided it can be the judge, jury, and executioner for no other reason than they believe that “history is on their side.” Sound familiar? To a smaller extent, the dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park movies serve the same thematic purpose.

For American and Japanese audiences, King Kong and Godzilla are monsters who represent hidden fears that can’t always be talked about in academic terms. We all know that Nuclear War is a bad thing. Yet, when we go to the cinema and watch images of cities being destroyed by a humungous uncontrollable man-made creature, it makes the threat of Nuclear War seem both more frightening and intensely personal. We caused this mess; and we are therefore the ones who can (and should) clean it up.

In this way, movie monsters are fictional representations of our own deeply ingrained fears. King Kong is a critique of how far mankind will go for fame and fortune. Godzilla preys on our fears that we will be the cause of our own destruction. We need these monsters because they make our fears seem real. They are the physical manifestations of our nightmares. They are the nexus of bedtime stories ripped straight from the headlines. It’s a cathartic form of punishment to see helpless human beings be murdered by the millions by creatures we either created or kidnapped. And when we leave the theater we feel a sense of guilt relieved and a valuable lesson or two learned.

But monsters don’t always have to prey on our fears. They can also tap into our hopes and dreams. Our ideals. Our best intentions. Godzilla isn’t always the villain. Sometimes he’s the hero defending Earth from alien kaiju. In a twist of fate, Godzilla is the savior we need. He’s a horrifying monster, but he’s our monster. He’s on our side. So monsters are not always a negative thing. They can also be an asset.

Take female bodybuilders, for example.

You knew I was eventually going to get back to them, right?

Like King Kong, Godzilla, Jurassic Park’s Tyrannosaurus Rexes, and slasher killers like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees, female bodybuilders are also monsters. They’re beautiful monsters. Gorgeous monsters. Flawlessly angelic monsters.

And strangely enough, they tap into both our deepest fears and highest aspirational dreams.

Monster - King Kong

Got to give some love to King Kong too.

At casual glance, it’s a bit strange why straight guys would be attracted to muscular women. Most people assume that men would be naturally repulsed by female bodybuilders. And many are. But many are not. Conventional wisdom tells you that guys wouldn’t like female bodybuilders because they would make them feel inadequate. The sight of a woman with bigger muscles than you’ll ever achieve is enough to make you feel insecure, lazy, and a pathetic excuse-maker.

I mean, if she can get that big, what’s your excuse, buster?

This probably explains why guys are so quick to yell “Steroids, steroids, steroids!” in YouTube comments as if they were Jan Brady from The Brady Bunch. They need to remind others (and themselves) that the reason why these ladies are so big is because they’ve become so through unnatural means. It provides them psychological comfort knowing FBBs “cheat the system” by taking anabolic steroids that infuse them with an unnatural level of male hormones. And this, in turn, makes it easier to build so much muscle mass.

So if they see photos of Alina Popa or Nataliya Kuznetsova and scream “steroids!!!” as loud as they possibly can, that’s enough to protect their fragile egos from being shattered by a complete stranger they’re peculiarly stalking on Instagram.

In other words, for these Female Muscle Haters (FMH), FBBs are an attack on their masculinity. Or their title as the “Stronger Sex.” Female bodybuilders are monstrous to them not because they look freaky or weird, but because they remind themselves of how inadequate they are. They have a constant need to be better than women at every aspect of life (including professional and personal achievements) and treat every woman who is superior to them at something as a threat. It’s a sad commentary on how many people view the world, but that’s the way it is.

But for Female Muscle Fans (FMF), we choose to put our egos aside and embrace these strong beautiful ladies. We celebrate their impressive achievements and cheer them on to get bigger, stronger, and more famous. We don’t feel threatened by them. Rather, we feel an odd sense of empowerment by them. We know that we’re not as strong as them, but we don’t feel emasculated by that fact. We feel turned on. We feel – and this will sound strange to anyone who isn’t initiated into female muscle fandom – stronger because of them.

Stronger, you say? Oh yes.

Female bodybuilders inspire us to be better. They are the living embodiment of “strong independent women” that too many people claim to be but really aren’t. They give us a warm tingly feeling inside that cannot be explained. They are a reminder that women are not destined to be the “weaker sex” and that men can lose the label of being the “stronger sex” if they get complacent. It’s both scary and empowering to know that our destinies are in our own hands. We control who we are and what we become. Nobody else. That can be frightening because it makes us responsible for our own failings.

Monster - Jay Fuchs

Jay Fuchs is both beautiful and a Goddess you don’t want to anger.

Female bodybuilders take the initiative. They refuse to make excuses. When they fail, they learn from that failure and adjust accordingly. Nothing is given to them on a silver platter. They have to earn their muscles, going as far as having to work harder than men if they want to achieve the same level of muscularity. And the bodybuilding industry is doing them no favors either. They’re on an island, swimming upstream in a hostile and indifferent world.

And so when they do achieve eye-popping physiques that make our jaws drop to the floor, we are turned on by them even more knowing how damn difficult it is to look that way. I’ve written before that female bodybuilders “earn their beauty.” It feels more meritorious. An average-looking woman who isn’t born with natural beauty can transform herself into a Supreme All-Powerful Muscle Goddess by following a strict diet, workout regimen, and supplementation schedule. She can go from being an ugly duckling to an Unstoppable Muscle Queen Who Slays Her Enemies through means that are totally within her control. That’s true empowerment.

Charlize Theron hit the genetics jackpot and was born naturally drop-dead gorgeous. Not everyone is so lucky. However, bodybuilding is one way (certainly not the only way) that someone can transform themselves into a more physically beautiful person without having to resort of cosmetic surgery. I love Kathy Connors dearly, but unlike Miss Theron, she was not born with natural beauty. But right now, Miss Connors is a Devilishly Sexy Muscle Siren through her own blood, sweat, and tears. And I applaud her for it!

This is why female bodybuilders tap into both our deepest fears and highest aspirations. Depending on how we choose to view the world, FBBs can make us feel either inadequate or inspired. Emasculated or empowered. We either reject their uniqueness or we embrace it. We see their muscled physique as either a reminder of our own weakness or a celebratory example of human perfection personified. We love them for who they are or we hate them for who they remind us we aren’t.

Who knew female muscle fandom could be so complex?

That being said, like all cinematic monsters, female bodybuilders are not inherently grotesque or beautiful. Those are labels we attach to them. We could look at Godzilla as the destroyer of humankind or we can look at him as a mere animal – granted, a very large animal – doing what all animals do: try to survive. Is Michael Myers a mindless psychopath who kills people because it’s in his nature? Or is he the product of a sick and twisted society that treated him like dirt and murdering hapless teens is his way of avenging that miserable childhood?

Monster - Bride of Frankenstein

Bride of Frankenstein was created to make sure the Creature didn’t get too lonely.

Perhaps this leads to an obvious conclusion: Monsters reveal our inner most fears because deep down inside, we’re actually afraid that we deserve the punishment that monsters levy upon us. When Godzilla stomps all over downtown Tokyo and kills scores of innocent people, it’s actually poetic retribution for mankind’s carelessness with regards to the environment. Or, a valuable lesson that man’s militaristic nature will eventually come back to haunt him. Peace begets peace, while war begets more war.

The vitriol aimed at female bodybuilders can be harsh, but not unexpected. People can be terrible when they can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet. Calling them “man-like” or “gross” or “freaky” may hurt their (and our) feelings, but in today’s trollish culture we must come to expect such idiocy.

Some FBBs use their haters as inspiration. Others choose to ignore them and instead focus on the people who genuinely love them. I think this is a more healthy route. Indeed, female bodybuilders are Beautiful Monsters. They are truly polarizing. Either you love them dearly or you are viscerally repulsed by them. Your reaction to seeing a photograph of a muscular woman can cause you to post bigoted misogynistic comments or unzip your pants and masturbate. I’ve received plenty of emails from fans who claim they’re “addicted” to female bodybuilders and that this fetish is so strong it’s causing their relationships with friends and family to break down.

Oof. I usually recommend they step back, take a deep breath, and seek the assistance of a counselor. That’s not healthy. That’s not fandom. That’s an obsession taken way too far.

It’s really bizarre that FBBs can elicit such totally opposing reactions.

Sexist hatred. Uncontrollable lust. Blatant misogyny. Animalistic sexual urges. Vitriolic comments. Fascination bordering on unhealthy obsession. Regardless, all of this leads to a much more disturbing but ultimately truthful assessment:

Perhaps female bodybuilders are not monsters after all.

We are.

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Naked, Proud, and Defiant: The Fantasy of Seeing a Nude Muscular Woman in Public

Who wouldn't want to see Alina Popa working out at their gym?

Who wouldn’t want to see Alina Popa working out at their gym?

I’ve seen a fair share of muscular women in my life. I’ve seen gorgeous fit women at the gym. I’ve met a number of female bodybuilders for muscle worship sessions. I’ve seen most of these female bodybuilders wearing their Birthday Suit, which means (for those of you in which English is not your first language) wearing absolutely nothing.

Seeing a muscular woman naked is like a spiritual experience. It’s like seeing a divine creature up close and not feeling worthy of being able to do so. It’s like being a layman and visiting the Holy of Holies inside Solomon’s Temple. You know it’s strictly forbidden, but your curiosity will always get the better of you.

As a fan of female bodybuilders, I have plenty of fantasies that I daydream about with great frequency. Making love to a female bodybuilder, having a romantic dinner with a female bodybuilder, snuggling closely with a female bodybuilder by a crackling fireplace, and lots of others. Most of them are quite mundane. Most of my fantasies aren’t kinky, violent, or contain any shred of BDSM fetishism. I don’t want a muscular woman to pee on me (gross!) or to stomp her high heels onto my scrotum (ouch!). If that’s your “thing,” so be it. It’s not mine!

One aspect of my female muscle fantasies that comes close to entering the realm of kinky is voyeurism. Voyeurism isn’t all that kinky or bizarre, but it can cross that threshold if taken to certain extremes. Here’s one simple voyeuristic female muscle fantasy that I have that I often think about:

Imagine you’re taking a casual stroll through a crowded street in a big metropolitan city. It’s Sunday afternoon and you see shoppers milling around, people eating brunch, tourists enjoying what the town has to offer, joggers, dog owners walking their pooches, and teenage kids being up to no good. In other words, it’s a typical pleasant carefree day.

You’re walking round aimlessly, minding your own business. Not a chore to do in the world. All of a sudden, out of the corner of your eye, you see a sight that you’ll never forget. Nor will anybody else who is also witnessing this event. On the opposite side of the street, you see a naked woman nonchalantly walking down the sidewalk; and not just any kind of woman, but a drop-dead gorgeous female bodybuilder.

She’s tall. She’s muscular. She’s completely ripped from head to toe with big swollen muscles. Her thighs could crush a watermelon. She can bend steel with her bare hands. Her broad shoulders take up almost the entire sidewalk. Her perfectly round butt bounces up and down poetically with every step she takes. She isn’t wearing a single article of clothing. She’s willingly allowing people to see every square inch of her stunningly chiseled physique.

People don’t recognize her and treat her like she’s an extraterrestrial visitor from another solar system. Nobody can look away. All eyes are helplessly glued to her. In fact, nobody wants to look away from her. Some are disgusted by her. Others are instantly turned on by her. But everybody stops what they’re doing, dead in their tracks, and stares at her theatrical nude promenade.

Everyone sees her – children, families, little old ladies, packs of teenagers, Catholic nuns, stoners, homeless drifters begging for spare change, police officers on patrol, dogs, cats, birds, and every living being within view of her immaculate body.

Not only is she boldly strolling around a crowded public place in the nude, but she’s proud to be doing this! She’s confident. She’s defiant. She’s empowered. She knows she has everyone in the palm of her calloused hand. No one can resist looking at her. And from what she can tell, no one has any desire to resist staring at her powerful body.

The police won’t arrest her for indecent exposure because they’re enchanted with her. The nuns won’t chastise her because they feel like they’re seeing the splitting image of God walking before them. The stoners and drunks sober up immediately. A few homeless folks offer to give her whatever nickels and dimes they have for just the opportunity to get a closer look at her. But she ignores all of these people. She doesn’t have a care in the world. As she continues her triumphant constitutional, she develops a following of people. No one dares touch her, talk to her, or bother her. They react to her with a combination of awe, erotic curiosity, and fear.

The countless individuals who follow her create traffic jams. Cars can’t pass through intersections. A jogger who notices this naked muscular woman accidentally runs into a telephone poll. People take out their cell phones and snap pictures of her. She loves the attention. She craves it. She doesn’t care if her flamboyant performance goes viral. She loves being who she is and will never apologize for it.

She’s worked her entire life to achieve this impeccably muscular body. She knows her body will receive mixed reactions. She knows this exhibitionistic exercise violates social norms. She knows her body is polarizing. But she doesn’t care. All she wants is for the entire fucking world to see it!

Wow. Imagine that for a moment. How would you react if you were one of the thousands of people who witness this moment? What do you think is going through the mind of the female bodybuilder who’s choosing to proudly display her body (and years of hard work) to the masses of onlookers?

But, let’s specifically focus on the narrator of the story. Let’s assume the narrator of the story is a secret admirer of muscular women. He (or she) may be caught off guard by our audacious performer (let’s call her “Ginger”), but once he realizes it’s happening he goes with the flow and loves every minute of it. Or, let’s assume he knows it’s going to happen ahead of time and enjoys watches it unfold just to see how other people will react.

Oh boy. Tatianna Butler.

Oh boy. Tatianna Butler.

Will Ginger get jeers from unpleasant trolls? Will the police try to arrest her? Will mothers cover the eyes of their children? Will husbands get slapped in the face by their wives because they can’t stop drooling over her? Will the kindly grandmas suddenly become militant and start to lecture her about the lack of decency she’s exhibiting? Will she inadvertently cause car collisions and pedestrians to trip over themselves? How far is Ginger planning to stroll through the neighborhood? Will she ignore the voices hurling unsolicited remarks toward her? Will she do something more daring like pose for pictures or allow strangers to touch her body?

I fantasize about being our protagonist. I’m just as aroused by seeing a muscular naked woman in public as I am witnessing people’s reaction to her. So my fantasy is less about voyeurism and more about exhibitionism. Call it “proxy exhibitionism” or “surrogate exhibitionism.” I’m not the one who’s nude in public, but I’m on her team. By extension, her display of courageous nudity is also mine as well. Ginger and I could be in cahoots. Maybe I’m conspicuously video recording the whole ordeal. Maybe I’m working with Ginger to make her go viral. Maybe I’m collaborating with her to plan and execute this innovative guerrilla marketing campaign.

Regardless, I love the feeling of making other people uncomfortable. No matter who you are, you cannot witness a naked muscular woman in public (or even a non-muscular naked woman) without feeling some sort of visceral reaction. How can you not?

This fantasy is rooted in the desire to break down social norms and shove certain sexual taboos into people’s faces. It’s one thing to see a naked muscular woman in the privacy of her hotel room (and, it should be noted, this whole interaction is completely consensual) and it’s quite another to see her out in public in the least private manner possible. Meeting her for a muscle worship session is intimate; this fantasy is the total opposite of intimate.

I’ve seen interviews with FBBs who say they enjoy getting stares from people when they’re in public spaces. I’m sure there are many who do not like such unwarranted attention. But it’s undeniable that a number of them do receive a thrill from knowing there are hundreds of pairs of eyeballs fixated in their direction. Likewise, I want to see people react to seeing an FBB out in the open. Even though I am not a female bodybuilder, I also receive a thrill (by extension) from the intense attention she receives.

Theresa Ivancik wearing a sexy red dress. Meow.

Theresa Ivancik wearing a sexy red dress. Meow.

Female bodybuilders receive two kinds of responses from people: lust and disgust. Just read the comments left behind on YouTube videos of FBBs. Some commenters are completely in love with them, and others are irrationally repulsed by them. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. So the fantasy I described above panders to both audiences: it gives the people who lust over her a little “show” that they’re bound to enjoy and it gives the people who are disgusted by her a demonstration of defiance and spite.

The best way to counter the “haters” isn’t to ignore them, but to intentionally shove your successes down their throats.

Ah yes. How sweet it is!

A part of this fantasy can be partially explained by my own personal life. As an Asian man, I often hear jokes about guys like me having a small penis. Even when people aren’t joking, they just assume that I’m “small down there” because of my ethnicity. It’s either people trolling me (and guys like me) or spouting off what they think to be “scientific-based” evidence. Regardless, I get pretty sick and tired of hearing this.

I often fantasize about doing this exact same thing as Ginger. I want to walk down a crowded street completely naked and see how people react to me doing this. I want my body (and penis) to be seen by everyone around me. Will women giggle and whisper to their friends all sorts of insulting things? Will men smirk at me and insist their packages are much larger than mine? Or will neither of those things happen?

Part of me wants to do this (although I won’t ever actually do this!) just for the sake of self-empowerment. It sounds clichéd, but it is what it is. Instead of being ashamed of my body (or a certain part of my body), I want to defiantly show it off no matter what the consequences would be. Likewise, I also fantasize about seeing a female bodybuilder do this. People might make fun of her shrunken breasts. Other will comment about her large clitoris and insist that it’s really a man’s penis. Some may even call her a man. But it doesn’t faze her at all. She’s going to be who she is despite what her critics say.

Naked, Proud, and Defiant.

On a side note, have you noticed that people who tend to say “I don’t care what the critics say” are usually the ones who (ironically) really care what their critics have to say? This claim is a defense mechanism that’s meant to downplay the role that critics play in your life. If you view outside voices as being irrelevant to your life’s choices, then what point is there to getting emotional over what those voices have to say?

If women like Kristy Hawkins strolled around the pool more often, I'd go swimming every single day!

If women like Kristy Hawkins strolled around the pool more often, I’d go swimming every single day!

I often wonder how well female bodybuilders tune out negative voices. To a certain degree, they all can. But realistically speaking, it’s nearly impossible to avoid vitriol in every moment of your waking life. Sooner or later, you’re going to hear hurtful or spiteful remarks directed your way. So how do you counter them? One method is to do what I’ve fantasized about: put yourself so out there that eventually your critics get sick and tired of saying damaging things to you. Obviously you can’t just prance around naked in public areas, but there are alternative methods at your disposal.

You can wear short sleeved shirts. You can wear shorts (in the summertime) that generously show off your thick legs. You can wear skimpy athletic swag at the gym. And of course, you can choose to post photos of your beautiful body on the Internet. These suggestions of alternative ways to flaunt what you got are being done by large numbers of FBBs already.

But the “Naked, Proud, and Defiant” fantasy has less to do with how a muscular woman feels about herself and more to do with how fans of muscular women feel about themselves. We don’t expect a muscular woman to feel compelled to put herself out there. She is under absolutely no obligation to do so. She can be as private as she chooses to be. If her husband (or wife) is the only person on planet Earth who is privileged to see her naked, so be it. As fans, we are not entitled to her body. But in our private thoughts, we can fantasize about whatever we want to.

Deep down inside, female muscle fans want their fetishes to be validated. I suppose that’s true of every fetish, sexual orientation, and kinky interest in existence. We want muscular women to be more accepted in society because, logically speaking, that could potentially lead more women to pursue bodybuilding, CrossFit, and lifting at the gym – which then leads to a surplus of more women with big muscles in the world (yay!).

Muscular women are rare in our society and female muscle fans want nothing more than for that to drastically change. But we all know realistically that’s not going to happen. So, we fantasize about the next best thing and wish that one day we’ll miraculously witness a gorgeous strong woman proudly showcase her nude body to all who surround her.

Seeing a beautiful non-muscular woman in public is not a big deal, though still a pleasant sight nevertheless. Most of us who catch a glimpse of a pretty lady will appreciate how she looks and quickly forget about her minutes after she leaves. For example, yesterday I saw an incredibly gorgeous Asian girl on a public train in Downtown Seattle. I did not think about her again until I wrote this sentence. Why did I forget about her? Because she was damn pretty, but not out of the ordinary. That’s why.

But what if I saw a gorgeous muscular woman (of any ethnicity) sitting on the same train wearing a revealing sundress that leaves very little to the imagination? I can guarantee you I wouldn’t stop thinking about her. Heck, I might write an entire blog post dedicated entirely to describing my experience seeing her sitting on that train! I’d jot down that article in 10 minutes flat and promptly publish it without editing it too much, spelling and punctuation errors be damned. But alas, she was undeniably beautiful but not exceptionally remarkable.

Seeing Colette Nelson in private is one thing, but seeing her dressed like this in the "outside world" would be a totally different animal.

Seeing Colette Nelson in private is one thing, but seeing her dressed like this in the “outside world” would be a totally different animal.

So, this fantasy speaks to my desire to see something remarkable unfold without prior expectation of it happening. When I visit a female bodybuilder for a muscle worship session, I know what to (reasonably) expect. The anticipation, excitement, and nervousness will still be there, but nothing that happens in the next hour will shock or surprise me. On the other hand, running into a complete stranger of a female bodybuilder in the outside world is a whole different matter. In the “outside world,” I don’t expect to run into women who look like Theresa Ivancik. If I were to do so, all bets are off!

But not only do I want to witness something unexpectedly beautiful, I also want others to experience it too. I don’t want to see car accidents happen as a result of a beautiful FBB strolling down the sidewalk, but a sick side of me sort of does! I want people to be stunned by her. I want her shake up our social order. I want her to cause chaos. I want others to be as spellbound by her as I am.

I want a muscular woman to proudly be herself and people who don’t like her can go f**k themselves!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yikes. That’s quite an emotional response, but sexual fantasies aren’t always perfectly rational. To conclude, the “Naked, Proud and Defiant” fantasy can be explained by the pent up frustration female muscle fans often feel when it comes to the women we love. We love them to death, but not everyone else does. People can say the most horrifying things about them, and we feel powerless to do anything about it. Trolls feel emboldened to insult, diminish, and belittle these women, and we feel that they’re also attacking us indirectly.

We feel helpless and voiceless, so we secretly want an FBB or two to take direct action and shut up these “haters” in the most bold and audacious way possible. But we also want them to change the hearts and minds of those who aren’t necessarily “haters” but are either indifferent or on-the-fence about them. Basically, we want them to be more “out there” than they currently are.

Their bodies are beautiful. Like patrons visiting a prestigious art museum, we want to immerse ourselves in beauty whenever possible. The “Naked, Proud, and Defiant” fantasy opens the doors for that to happen.

How to Deal with Negativity Directed Against Female Bodybuilders

Love the tight red dress Glenese Markes is wearing.

Love the tight red dress Glenese Markes is wearing.

Let’s face it. Being a female bodybuilder isn’t easy.

And I’m not talking about the lifestyle, dieting, excruciating workout regiments, supplementations, lack of financial security, intense preparation, competitive nature of the business, paying for food/personal trainers/gym memberships, or any of that.

I’m referring to the negativity that can be directed against them on a daily basis.

I’m not a female bodybuilder, of course. But from what I’ve read in online comment sections, chat forums and Facebook conversation threads, nastiness targeted against our beloved ladies is all too common. The advent of the Internet has made this type of negativity easier to propagate.

To a lesser extent, fans of female bodybuilders (especially straight men) are also susceptible to mean spirited attacks, jabs, jokes and insults.

Now please don’t misinterpret me. I am in no way shape or form comparing the trials and tribulations of a female bodybuilder to that of their fans. The negativity we face does not even come close to comparing to the social taboo of a human female putting lots and lots of strong muscles on her body. There is no comparison.

But, both sides face unfortunate backlash nevertheless. This explains why so many of us choose to explore our female muscle fandom in secret. Anonymity is a gift from God. In today’s world, we are freer than ever before to pursue our interests without fearing our friends, family or neighbors will ever find out.

Female bodybuilders do not have such a luxury. Not only is the evidence of their life’s calling bare for all to see, it’s very difficult to hide other activities (such as offering muscle worship services, participating in pornographic photo/video shoots, maintaining a sexually explicit website, etc.) from the public’s eye. Not in our 21st century world of high speed communications and the proliferation of user-generated media.

So, it seems appropriate to discuss how female muscle fans should respond to such negativity. Insults, dehumanizing attitudes, negative stereotypes, gender-based discrimination – all of that exists out there for everyone to witness. And this goes way beyond the world of female bodybuilding. Politics, religion, pop culture, sports…the list goes on and on.

Why can explain this? Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems like our ability as a society to conduct calm, rational and productive dialogue has gone totally out the window. But, to be completely honest, this is a whole other discussion for another time.

For the time being, here are some practical strategies, tips and general guidelines both female bodybuilders (and I do know for a fact that a small handful of real-life FBBs regularly read my blog!) and avid fans of female bodybuilders can follow when dealing with negativity directed against our collective interests.

1. Negativity is inevitable and will probably never go away

This is a difficult reality to deal with, but unfortunately it’s true. I’m sure many of you have heard this popular catchphrase before:

Haters gonna hate.

Sound familiar? It should. Basically, the colloquial expression “haters gonna hate” means your critics are going to criticize you regardless of who you are, what you’ve done, or what you plan on doing. Celebrities, politicians, athletes, powerful business leaders and nearly everyone who puts themselves out there in the public domain will experience “hate” from someone.

I should hurry up and say that “hate” is a strong word, as our mothers have all pointed out to us before. While there are disturbed people out there who truly hate certain others (and have very dangerous ill intentions toward them), most of the “hate” I’m referring to is more of a “dislike.” Most of the negativity thrown toward a female bodybuilder on a Facebook conversation thread is not “hate speech.” I wouldn’t categorize it that way.

Erica Cordie showing off her triceps while wearing a gorgeous white dress.

Erica Cordie showing off her triceps while wearing a gorgeous white dress.

But feelings of disgust, distrust, suspicion, jealousy, envy and betrayal are par for the course for any celebrity, regardless of who they are or what they’ve actually done to garner this negativity. It’s going to happen. It sucks, but it happens and there’s no use in denying it or crossing your fingers and hoping it will miraculously go away.

It won’t. Sorry.

Haters gonna hate. It sucks. But you have no choice but to grit your teeth and live with it.

Now that we’ve established this fact, let’s move on to my next point…

2. You don’t have to personally respond to every bit of negativity

It’s tempting to respond to a bigoted comment with an equally bigoted one of your own. My recommendation is that you don’t do that. Try to avoid becoming the attacker yourself even after you’ve been the victim of an attack.

Even though the popular adage “fight fire with fire” is perfectly appropriate to certain areas of life, it simply isn’t always the most prudent strategy. If negativity is inevitable and will probably never go away (as we previously discussed above), then why fight against it? Why fight against every little attack that comes your way? Why pull yourself into battles that will make you lose your temper and could potentially ruin your day?

My basic point is that life is all about picking and choosing your battles. Some battles are more important than others.

If a complete stranger on the web thinks all female bodybuilders are gross and look like men, do you really want to feed into this troll’s desire to instigate a fight? If they truly feel that way and aren’t trolling, will viciously attacking them radically make them change their minds?

Probably not.

If you do feel obligated to respond to a severe ad hominem attack, consider why you’re responding and whether it’s worth the effort. Not every attacker deserves to be counter-attacked. Pick and choose your battles because if you exhaust yourself fighting a series of “little battles,” will you not be drained of all your energy once a truly “big battle” comes your way?

3. Consider the appropriate way to respond before actually responding

The problem with our instant gratification society is that we can speak our minds in a public forum at an instantaneous rate which leaves us vulnerable to letting our emotions get the better of us.

Thankfully, you don’t have to be like that. If you do choose to respond to vitriol, make sure your response is well thought-out, appropriate and productive.

Countering an inflammatory remark with one of your own only adds fuel to an already out-of-control fire. Don’t give in to that garbage. Instead, be the “better person” and take the “high road” if possible. Remember that the person you’re responding to is an actual human being who deserves dignity (and yes, respect!) even though you may not think he/she does.

Melissa Wee showing off her bikini body.

Melissa Wee showing off her bikini body.

I want to highlight the importance of “productive.” In my estimation, “productive” is achieved when you create an open dialogue that tries to reach a level of mutual understanding. You don’t necessarily need to “convince” this person to come over to your side, but you do need to communicate your point while at the same time understanding where they’re coming from.

I’m not telling you what to do. All I’m recommending is that whatever you do you should have some sort of tangible objective in mind. Instead of just satisfying a raw emotional need to lash out against your “haters,” consider what good can come out of this.

4. Never stoop down to their level

This is really important when trying to conduct a dialogue with someone. No matter how tempting it is to get in the trenches and engage in a war of words with them, never stoop down to their level. Even if it means bailing out on a conversation, you should always maintain your own dignity at all times.

We’re female muscle fans. We love strong women. Why should we get defensive whenever someone verbally attacks the women we love so much? We’re better than that. We need to be strong, too. We need to prove that our love for female bodybuilders doesn’t need to be defended. There’s nothing to defend. It is what it is. It’s our interest. We don’t have to justify ourselves to anyone, especially someone who finds our admiration for them disgusting.

Never reduce yourself to the point where you’re trading insults with more insults. Don’t argue that we love strong women because fat women are disgusting or a “real woman” has meat on her bones, not all skin and bones.

I have nothing negative to say about Danielle Reardon.

I have nothing negative to say about Danielle Reardon.

That’s not the right approach. Bringing down others in order to make yourself feel better is never justified. Becoming malevolent rarely ends well. Be cautious about your tone. Respond with ideas, not raw emotions.

5. Point out the positives of loving female bodybuilders whenever you can

I think there is great value in appreciating strong women. Not only are we encouraging women to pursue their dreams of strengthening and bettering themselves, we’re helping shatter the stereotype of women being “weak” or “dainty.” You only stay weak if you start to accept your weakness. By admiring female bodybuilders and athletes, we’re expressing our beliefs that women can be strong too (and that women should be strong). How can you not go along with that?

A great way to respond to negativity is to point out the positives. A positive mixed with a negative becomes neutral, right? I’m no chemist, but let’s pretend I’m right.

Point out that strong women are beautiful. Mention that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Never refrain from saying that female bodybuilders are some of the most driven, rebellious and hardworking human beings on this planet. Discuss the idea that men who love female muscle aren’t weird, but open-minded and open-hearted.

Counter hate with love. Don’t tear down a person’s argument by attacking them. Instead, try building up your own argument. People hate what they don’t understand. Make them understand.

Aleesha Young is simply a spectacle to behold.

Aleesha Young is simply a spectacle to behold.

6. When all else fails, tune out the noise

Sometimes, it’s best to just ignore the vitriol. If haters gonna hate, why even bother listening in the first place? You’re only going to just make yourself more and more angry.

Life is too short to be upset all the time. I understand there’s a lot of terrible stuff happening in the world every single day. I get that. But do you really have to let every little bit of negativity that comes your way affect you on a personal level?

Some people will never understand. Others will try to understand but still choose to be repulsed by it. Oh well. That happens. Shit happens. Accept it. Tune out the noise. Don’t let it drag on your psyche. Don’t let venom cramp your style.

Don’t hesitate to put on your imaginary headphones and play your own music if the tunes you’re stuck with in the real world suck big time. Just make sure you don’t bottle yourself up in a silo of self-righteousness. That is also unhealthy.

7. Enjoy your female muscle fandom in all its glory

Have fun. Go to bodybuilding shows. Watch videos of your favorite ladies working on their craft. Read their blogs. Visit their websites. Set up muscle worship sessions with them if they’re travelling to your area. Live out your female muscle fandom to the fullest.

I’m going to assume that female bodybuilders love their fans. Who wouldn’t? Be the best fan you can be. Don’t let those “haters” prevent you from pursuing your interests. Our interests are unusual. But they don’t have to be suppressed.

Explore your interests in a healthy way, of course. Don’t become a stalker or spend all your money on sessions when you don’t have the resources to do so. But never let society dictate what you like. You decide what you like. So like it!

***

To summarize, the lesson to be learned is simple: Always take the high road.

Always.

I understand why vitriol exists. People feel entitled to their opinions, and consequently, entitled to sharing those opinions! I’m a big fan of freedom of expression and freedom of speech. But with that comes the challenge of dealing with the inevitable hurt feelings, wounded pride and fear of public humiliation.

For all of us female muscle fans (and those of you who are actual FBBs), I suggest taking the high road whenever possible. Don’t feel scared about being attracted to a woman with muscles on her body. Embrace it! Don’t feel obligated to respond to every venomous comment. Life is too short to spend all your free time wallowing in bitter resentment.

Instead, be strong. Be strong in your convictions, your thoughts, your feelings, your interests. Be strong in who you are and what you like.

Always.