From the early 1990s all the way to the mid-2000s, Pamela Anderson reigned supreme. Every boy (and girl who appreciates girls) who grew up during this time period should wholeheartedly agree.
Who knew that one fateful day in 1989 an unknown pretty blonde girl from Canada would attend a B.C. Lions Canadian Football League game and set off a chain of events that would eventually lead to tens of millions of horny teenage boys spilling much of their seed during their formative years? The so-called “Butterfly Effect” can be a funny thing to behold.
Pamela Anderson soon afterward would pose for Playboy in October 1989, which launched her stardom. After moving to Los Angeles, short guest appearances on Home Improvement would lead to a prominently featured role in Baywatch, a TV show that launched a few other noteworthy (but not necessarily valuable) careers. And the rest, as they say, is history.
A groundbreaking sex tape, a few failed high-profile relationships, and several plastic surgeries later, Miss Anderson elevated herself beyond stardom. She became an icon. She became in the ‘90s what Marilyn Monroe was in the ‘50s, Raquel Welch in the ‘60s, Farrah Fawcett in the ‘70s, and Brooke Shields in the ‘80s. These women defined not just the beauty and fashion standards of those decades past, but the adolescent experiences of boys everywhere as well.
Although what Pamela Anderson added to the mix could either be the greatest thing or the worst thing ever. She added the element of actual sex to her iconic image. The infamous sex tape with Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee notwithstanding, she lived in a time period in which pornography started to become mainstream. And not just elegant “topless” glamour shots, but hardcore porn involving real sex acts, nudity that leaves nothing to the imagination, and unbridled sexual expression that makes no attempt to be subtle.
Miss Anderson could do what Marilyn Monroe could not (or would not) do. If Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly had participated in such explicit pornography, their careers would have been toast. They probably could never fully recover from such a scandal. Yet, regardless if you consider such breaking of social taboos to be positive or negative, there was something lost when hardcore porn turned mainstream: Classiness.
But that is a whole other discussion for another time. Let’s get back to the biography of Miss Anderson.
Pamela Denise Anderson was born on July 1, 1967 in Ladysmith, British Columbia, Canada. In addition to her modeling and television career, she’s become an outspoken animal rights activist, participating in many awareness campaigns conducted by the controversial People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). She is obviously a vegan and eagerly encourages everyone to become one as well. Whether you choose to follow her advice is, well, completely up to you.
As a woman who just turned 50 years old, Miss Anderson has for the most part been out of the spotlight since the mid-2000s. The problem with building a financial empire based solely on your physical appearance is that when your looks do start to erode, there’s not much left for you to do. She isn’t 25 anymore. She isn’t 35 anymore. And no amount of cosmetic surgery is going to change that. But somehow, one gets the impression she doesn’t have any regrets. It seems doubtful that she would still prefer to be in the public spotlight as if it were 1996 all over again. But that could be an incorrect assessment.
Pam recently returned to the national conversation when she expressed support for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Whether you think the man is a freedom fighter or a terrorist (or a puppet of Vladimir Putin), you got to give him credit if the “It-Girl” of twenty years ago who inspired millions of teenage boys to perfect the art of masturbation thinks you’re good for the vitality of democracy.
Alright, so what does Pamela Anderson have to do with muscular women? The answer is absolutely nothing. She’s always been a skinny blonde bimbo (which is meant to be endearing, not insulting) who never attempted to gain extraneous muscle mass in her life. She’s never been – or aspired to become – a bodybuilder, athlete, or fitness model. So what’s the big deal?
Perhaps the most significant contribution Pam made to modern day female muscle enthusiasts is providing us with our “Awakening” moment.
When we were 12 or 13 years old and just beginning to go through the awkward phase of puberty, there came a moment for almost all of us that hit us like a ton of bricks. Yes, there are the simple moments like when that annoying girl you’ve known all your life suddenly becomes someone you actually enjoyed looking at. But more often than not, you had someone – most likely a celebrity – whose beauty punched you in the face so hard, you felt like your world has just been opened up to new possibilities.
From a personal point of view, I cannot remember the first time I “discovered” Pam. It was probably somewhere on TV. Or maybe during the early days of dial-up Internet. But it doesn’t really matter. Like many teenage boys and young men who grew up in the 1990s, Pamela Anderson single handedly sent us on the fast lane through adolescence into adulthood. I clearly remember downloading and printing nude pictures of her and stashing it underneath my bed for illicit late-night use. I’ll leave it up to your imagination as to what that “use” consisted of.
For lots of us, Pamela Anderson opened our eyes to a whole new world called Female Beauty. For the first time in our lives, we learned why Daddy wanted to marry Mommy in the first place. We found out why Prince Charming felt the need to search the entire kingdom for Cinderella. Every kissing scene we ever saw in movies and TV shows suddenly developed a deeper meaning. She, and others like Carmen Electra and Cindy Margolis, gave us an education on human attraction, sexuality, reproduction, womanhood, and growing up that no textbook could ever come close to providing.
We were no longer boys. We were men. Because we discovered women.
While I don’t really hold a lot of nostalgic feelings for Pam, I can reflect upon my childhood and appreciate her for who she is: A gorgeous blonde bombshell who made my pulse race and my hormones rage into overdrive. There’s something to be said about that.
Coincidentally, at around the time Pamela started to fade into the pop culture background (God forbid she turn 40 years old!), I discovered female bodybuilders.
I don’t think the two events are related, but I cannot help but suspect that they are. I first discovered the glorious world of female bodybuilding during my freshman year in college, which would have been 2005. Pamela would have been 38 at that time, which from my perspective wasn’t super old, but old enough that I was ready to “move on” to other avenues of eye candy.
Female bodybuilders quickly filled that void and became that much-desired candy.
In a way, I felt like I had matured as well. I was not a dopy teenager anymore (even though I was still technically one at 18). I was now into “strong, independent women” who weren’t afraid to show off their big chiseled muscles. I tossed my old photos of Pamela Anderson in the trash can and replaced them with videos of Monica Brant, Karen Zaremba, and Deidre Pagnanelli saved on my laptop computer. I had moved on. Or had I?
I don’t want to suggest that muscular women are a “step up” from more traditionally beautiful women like Pam, Carmen, Sophie Marceau, or Monica Bellucci. I would never say that Monica Brant is definitely more beautiful than Monica Bellucci, because she isn’t. Miss Bellucci still holds a special place in my heart, even though she, like Pam, has never been anything close to a bodybuilder.
Muscular women are just one more tool in my toolshed. It’s one more taco I can put on my plate. Muscular women haven’t replaced traditionally beautiful women. Rather, they’ve just been added to the list. Even at the ripe age of 50, if Pamela Anderson – despite her years of extensive plastic surgery and sordid romantic past – were to approach me and ask me to take her to bed, I would not hesitate to say “yes.” I suspect many of you would probably do the same thing.
Maybe that’s nostalgia somewhat kicking in, or maybe it’s not. If Alina Popa and Pamela Anderson both approached me with the same proposition and I had to only choose one of them, my decision would favor Miss Popa instead. As much as I (still) love Pam, I cannot say no to a younger muscle goddess who might be The Most Perfect Woman Ever Constructed on God’s Green Earth.
However, without question the female celebrities who defined my past have played an immeasurable role in shaping who I am today. I fully accept that if it weren’t Pamela, it would have been someone else. And yes, there were girls I knew in junior high and high school who caught my eye and made human sexuality more tangible for me. But I have to give credit where credit is due. Miss Anderson was a huge deal. It was like she held a baseball bat with the words “How to Appreciate Female Beauty” etched in it and whacked me on the back of the head a hundred times with it. I was for a brief period of time obsessed with her. I thought about her every night before I fell asleep. I never talked about her publicly (even with friends who were most likely sympathetic with my opinion of her), but she definitely pervaded my thoughts and fantasies during my early teen years.
She was one of the first celebrities who made me feel a certain way that I couldn’t quite explain. I knew she was attractive as hell. I knew there were only a small handful of human beings on planet Earth who looked as stunning as her. I knew she was a rare specimen. But what I couldn’t point my finger to was the root of my obsession with her.
I wasn’t obsessed in a “celebrity crush” sort of way. Rather, I was obsessed in an I-Can’t-Believe-Human-Beings-Are-Able-To-Be-As-Fucking-Gorgeous-As-Her sort of way. Perhaps it was because I was relatively young and inexperienced in appreciating Female Beauty, but I could have sworn that Pamela couldn’t actually be real. She has to be a human-looking cyborg who was developed in an underground laboratory specifically to test the limits of human beauty. After all, how can someone actually be that beautiful?
Well, someone can. Later, other women would either replace or complement Pamela as objects of obsession. Rena Mero, Trish Stratus, Sophie Marceau, Famke Janssen, Monica Bellucci, Carmen Electra, Cindy Crawford, and Halle Berry immediately come to mind. And yes, female bodybuilders would also follow. But Pamela still holds a special place in my heart. Even as she began to age (not-so-gracefully, unfortunately) and newer and younger sex symbols took her place (paging Megan Fox), I would come to appreciate a middle-aged Pamela and realize that one cannot stay young forever. Nobody wants to become Joan Rivers. Nor should anybody.
Still, looking back upon Pamela’s career, I’m saddened by how she’s become more of a punchline than someone whose contributions to pop culture are rightfully recognized as being noteworthy. If you were to ask the typical person on the street (who’s older than 25) what you think about Pamela Anderson, you’d probably get two typical responses:
- Wasn’t she the one who couldn’t decide what kind of boobs she wanted?
- Didn’t she make that horribly crass sex tape with Tommy Lee?
While both observations explain why her name was always in the tabloids, they both ignore what she truly provided for the lives of teen boys (who are now adults) like myself:
The discovery of Female Beauty.
Through her, we learned what it means to be so darn attracted to a woman that it would drive you to do things you’d never thought you could do. I never knew about the concept of masturbation until I accidentally tried it one fateful Saturday afternoon – and oh boy, did that leave an unexpected mess! I never thought I’d ever download porn, print it out on our shabby HP printer, and hide it underneath my bed. I never thought I’d be sweating bullets every time my brother or parents wandered into my room, fearing they’d inadvertently stumble upon my “collection.” But the discoveries we make as adolescents do lead to bizarre and unexpected life choices.
I realize as I write this that the unexplainable electric feeling Pamela conjured up inside me would later return the moment I first discovered female bodybuilders. It was as though Pamela first introduced me to Female Beauty and female bodybuilders later introduced me to a whole new subculture within Female Beauty. They are two sides of the same coin.
So that’s it. My obsession with Pamela eventually faded away, but it wasn’t because I “grew up” or “matured.” It’s because someone else took her place. Or more specifically, hundreds of others took her place. Lindsay Mulinazzi. Denise Masino. Debi Laszewski. Emery Miller. Victoria Dominguez. Ginger Martin. Brandi Mae Akers. Tina Nguyen. Amber DeLuca. Angela Salvagno. Shawn Tan. Mavi Gioia. Monica Martin. Larissa Reis. Annie Rivieccio. The list goes on and on.
I’d like to thank Pamela Anderson for playing a role that she probably never intended to play. She acted as the catalyst for hundreds of millions of boys to discover a whole new facet of their humanity that they never knew existed. She made all of us feel a certain way that we couldn’t put into words but are certainly not complaining about. While I would never go as far as to say that if it weren’t for Pamela I wouldn’t have discovered female bodybuilders, I think a compelling argument could be made that she opened my mind to new possibilities. She inspired me to seek out beauty in new and wondrous places. She put me on the path toward searching for other women who could conjure up those same feelings I had for her when I was 14.
I craved bolder forms of Female Beauty that would push the limits of my imagination and light a fire inside my soul that I thought had died out the moment I left childhood. I wanted to rekindle that fervor. Badly.
Well, I eventually found what I was looking for.
You can probably guess what that was.