The Scantily Clad but Not Quite Nude Female Bodybuilder

Cindy is such a tease.

Is it possible for a female bodybuilder to be more beautiful than when she’s nude?

After all, it’s when we are able to see her in her full glory. Nothing hidden from view. Everything she has laid out bare. All her hard work, sacrifices, perfections, imperfections, and insecurities out in the open. She is vulnerable, yet invulnerable at the same time.

Being nude is a female bodybuilder’s natural state. That isn’t to say that all female bodybuilders are also nudists, however. “Nudism” is a cultural movement that seeks to advocate for and normalize nude social activities. That’s a separate thing unrelated to our discussion here. What we’re talking about is that in order for someone to see a female bodybuilder for who she really is, one must look at her when she’s naked. From head to toe. Then, you can see who she really is. This is when her true identity comes out.

Every curve, every muscle fiber, every square inch of her uniquely structured body on full display. She is hiding nothing because there is nothing to hide. She isn’t ashamed to reveal her life’s work, her masterpiece, her artistry. She is an artist and her body is her canvas.

Yet, that is not always when a female bodybuilder is at her most alluring. As strange as this may sound, an FBB might be at her most intriguing when she’s scantily clad – but not quite nude.

Uh, what?

Now, this may sound crazy. Okay, it flat out sounds crazy. But don’t tune out quite yet. Think of it this way:

Throughout the history of humankind, the practice of wearing clothes has almost been universal. Some primitive cultures that exist in hot tropical environments may not wear very much, but they at least cover up the “essentials.” But by and large, you get the idea. All people wear clothes most of the time – at least in public. You don’t need to be a literal believer in the Adam and Eve story to understand this.

Africa Carey (a.k.a. Coco Crush) showing us just enough of her immaculate beauty.

The Book of Genesis notwithstanding, the tendency to wear clothes is based on the assumption that the human body isn’t meant to be seen in full. And it’s not just because it’s cold in the winter. Nudity implies sexuality, even though the two are not synonymous. Nudity exposes genitals, which is central to reproductive activities. Enthusiasts of nudism (or naturism) would vehemently argue that there is nothing inherently sexual or dirty about the human body, even in nude form. That’s certainly debatable, but we cannot ignore that from our society’s point of view, nudity and sexuality are intimately intertwined.

Try not to visualize the words “intimately intertwined.”

So, we’ve decided that the taboo associated with nudity is both understandable and probably, if we’re being honest here, justified. Maybe not completely justified, but justified enough that we’d feel really, really uncomfortable if we learned that our kid’s kindergarten teacher took off her own bra during a makeshift anatomy lesson. That would be weird. Very weird.

But there are definitely variations of nudity that must be acknowledged. Nudity is a continuum, not a black or white matter. On one end of the spectrum we have someone wearing a hazmat suit, ready to clean up after an unfortunate nuclear spill. On the other end we have drunk college kids parading around the street naked in preparation for Mardi Gras. And everything in between. Let’s talk for a moment about what exists in the middle.

Generally speaking, what is the most amount of nudity a person can show in public and not get arrested for indecent exposure? For both men and women, it’s covering up the genitals. For women, it’s also covering up the nipples. Bare butts are discouraged, but acceptable depending on where you are specifically.

Cancun on spring break? Get cheeky with it.

Wading through a public pool at the senior center? Eh, don’t stick out too much if you can avoid it. For everyone’s sake.

God bless America, Kati Alander.

Alright, so no genitals, no bare butts (for the most part), and no female nipples. Got it. Is this fair? Probably not, but it is what it is. At least, this is the way it is for now. There is a hashtag trending on social media called #FreeTheNipple that’s being used to protest Facebook and Instagram’s policy of censoring female nipples. The argument is that if men are allowed to show their nipples without punishment, then women should be allowed the same courtesy. It remains to be seen how effective this awareness campaign will be.

But at the end of the day, this isn’t really a discussion about social standards. This is more about what we find to be erotically pleasing versus what will or will not land us in jail for a night.

Here’s a strange question: What’s more erotic, a nude female bodybuilder or a female bodybuilder wearing sexy lingerie?

Hm. This may seem obvious at first, but later it gets complicated the more you think about it. Yes, a fully nude female bodybuilder is a fantastic sight to see. That same FBB wearing lingerie or a bikini isn’t the same because you don’t see all of her. You see most of her, but not everything. She’s scantily clad, but not quite nude. Yet, as odd as this sounds, the latter is much more intriguing than the former.

A female bodybuilder wearing lingerie, a negligee, a bikini, shorts and gym bra, a towel, a cocktail dress, a blanket draped over her body, or her own hands covering up certain parts intrigues us because we see enough to get a great idea of what she looks like without getting the satisfaction of seeing everything she has to offer. We see her curves, musculature, striations, bulging mounds of flesh, and deep grooves. We see how hard she must work day-in and day-out to attain and maintain that physique. We see her sacrifices. We see her dedication on full display. However, we don’t see the intimate parts of her that she’s chosen not to reveal. And that point cannot be emphasized enough: she’s choosing to not reveal certain parts of her. And that’s perfectly okay, no matter how frustrating it may be for the rest of us.

Maybe she’s covering up certain parts of her because she doesn’t want to get censored or kicked off certain social media platforms. Or for her, full nudity is a bridge too far. The best example of this is Cindy Landolt. Cindy is one of the most beautiful women on planet Earth. She’s stunning. She’s absolutely gorgeous. She’s flawless. She’s a perfect demonstration that muscles do not compromise a woman’s femininity. In fact, muscles can enhance your femininity. For Cindy, her curvy muscles exemplify her feminine identity.

I cannot stop staring at Kim Birtch’s piercing eyes.

Cindy does not do full nudity. Ever. At least, not yet. And that is 100 percent her choice. She can choose to never ever show us her nipples or genitals. As much as we fans want her to “go all the way,” it’s her right to not do that. She is under no obligation to do so. No matter how much we beg her, if she stands firm and goes her entire career without going full nude, we just have to live with it. And we have no reason to feel slighted by her. She showcases her beauty in plenty of other ways. Her contribution to the world speaks for itself. Period.

In a way, Cindy’s choice to never do graphic nudity works to her advantage. It’s a “Holy Grail” of sort that her fans will clamor for as long as they live. It keeps our imaginations running wild. It teases us. Our hormones go into overdrive fantasizing about what Miss Landolt really looks like. Are her nipples long? Pink or brown? What does her clit look like? Is it large like Denise Masino’s clit, or is it normal-sized?

We will never know. Only Cindy’s lover knows. And he is one hell of a lucky guy!

Our continual fascination with Cindy’s mysterious bits makes her that much more alluring. It makes her seem otherworldly. We know she’s a real-life human being, but in the back of our minds we still suspect she’s either a robot constructed from an FBB fan’s wildest dreams or an animated “deep fake” character illustrated by a basement full of horny guys. The same goes for any FBB who chooses to forego full nudity.

It makes them appear more “classy.” That isn’t to say that FBBs – or any model, for that matter – who proudly show us everything God has given them are classless or filthy. They still deserve our respect and admiration. Angela Salvagno isn’t trashy because she leaves nothing to the imagination while Minna Pajulahti keeps things more guarded. Both women are beautiful. Both are unbelievably sexy. Both are irresistible. One chooses to share her intimate parts with the world while the other sticks to keeping things PG-13. Nothing wrong with either choice.

But getting back to our more “modest” FBBs, not only do they let our imaginations run wild and keep us begging for more, they inadvertently make us view them as pieces of art rather than pieces of meat. That isn’t to say that those who choose to go full nude in photoshoots and videos are deserving of ridicule, judgement, or rudeness. Quite the contrary. No one deserves dehumanizing treatment, regardless of their life’s choices. But there is something to be said about an FBB who selectively reveals her body. She knows her body is a work of art and she’s deliberate on how patrons of her art view it.

By showing us just enough but not everything, it leaves us begging for more. It leaves our appetites fulfilled, but not satiated. We will continuously come back, hoping that today is the day when we get to experience everything we want to experience. And even if we go home empty handed, we can still be counted on to come back the next day.

The Scantily Clad But Not Quite Nude Female Bodybuilder is both a tease and a skilled strategist. She toys with her captive audience like an experienced burlesque performer. She flaunts just enough without giving her fans so much that they start to devalue her. This is a key point: FBBs who deny you full nudity are taking a stand. Maybe it’s a principled stand or perhaps it’s a moral one. Regardless, they know that if they “give in” and provide the public everything they ever wanted, deep down inside these fans will think differently about her…whether they know it or not.

Fair or unfair, as mentioned before we as a society associate nudity with sexuality. And sexuality is directly connected with reproduction, then pregnancy, and then motherhood. By being scantily clad, an FBB is challenging us to not think of her as a sex object, but instead as an athlete. After all, she’s showing us all we need to see: her big muscles. Do we actually need to see anything else?

Alina Popa has huge, beautifully sculpted muscles. I don’t need to see what her nipples or clit looks like. Those parts of her body are mutually exclusive from her biceps, triceps, forearms, back, shoulders, abdomen, glutes, quads, and calves. She proudly puts those parts of her on full display. I can clearly see how impressive her physique is without seeing her intimate parts.

Does Nat Rochner show up at the gym looking like this?

Heck, just pay attention to the language we use to describe an FBB’s body: We like looking at her glutes, not her butt. The word “butt” has a sexual connotation. “Glutes” does not. See the difference?

I already know everything I need to know about Cindy Landolt’s physique. Would I love to see more of her? Well, yes. But it’s not necessary. Her identity is set in stone. She’s a gorgeous feminine woman with big strong muscles. Period. I don’t need to see her private parts in order to sufficiently come up with that conclusion. All the evidence I need is already right there before me.

In other words, by de-emphasizing an FBB’s sexuality, we are fully able to see her for who she really is: a world-class athlete. That isn’t to say that we can’t see her as both a world-class athlete and as a sex object, but the latter has a pernicious way of overshadowing the former.

A female bodybuilder who shows us enough but not everything may not be intentional about this, but I’d wager a guess that she is. Many FBBs don’t want to be sex objects. They don’t think of themselves as strippers or porn stars. They identify as athletes first and everything else second. There’s nothing wrong with that. By wearing a simple bikini, I can see all her muscles and hard work on display. I don’t need the bikini to come off. If it does, I’m definitely not going to complain (obviously!), but it’s not essential. Her modesty – or lack of modesty – is her choice, not mine.

To conclude, a scantily clad female bodybuilder may not be sexier than a fully nude female bodybuilder, but that’s beside the point. The actual point is that how she chooses to present herself is an intentional strategy meant to influence how we view her. Whatever her reasons are for not going “all the way,” we will be left wanting more. Begging for more. Perhaps one day she’ll give us what we want, or maybe that day will never come. Either way, what happens is up to her.

I still stand by my original assessment that a female bodybuilder’s natural state is being nude. Nothing has changed. But this is more practical than philosophical. I’d love to see every single one of my favorite FBBs in their birthday suits. A few I have. Many I have not. While nude is how to best experience an FBB’s body, it’s not a requirement to learning how to appreciate her. What she allows us to see is sufficient, no matter how frustrated that makes us feel. If she wants us to know that she’s a strong, independent woman who takes risks, lives life to the fullest, and doesn’t care what her haters have to say, we can see that whether she’s wearing underwear, gym attire, jeans and tee-shirt, a sweatshirt, or nothing at all.

All Hail Queen Alina

Bow down and worship Alina Popa!

Alina Popa is the GOAT.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the lingo the kids are using these days, “GOAT” is not an insult. It’s not what Charlie Brown feared he would be if he were to give up the losing run at the end of his playground baseball game. It’s not an animal. It’s not one of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs. No. GOAT stands for Greatest of All Time. It’s the highest compliment one can bestow upon a person. It’s a high honor.

Miss Popa is the GOAT. Or a GOAT. Or one of the GOATs. Or in the top 5. Or top 10. We can’t all agree where she ranks among the greatest female bodybuilders in the history of the sport, but for the time being most of us should be able to recognize that Alina is one the best of the best of the best of the best.

For many reasons, Alina has captured our hearts and imaginations. She’s beloved. She boasts near universal adoration. Everyone loves and respects her. If you were to take a straw poll of one thousand female muscle fans worldwide and ask them who their favorite FBB currently is, I’d wager a guess that more than 80% would have Alina somewhere in their top 5. If she’s not in their top 10, then they’ve lost all credibility as far as I’m concerned. If they’ve never even heard of her, then I don’t know if it’s fair to call them a female muscle fan in the first place.

Alina’s appeal is fascinating to break down. She doesn’t have the crossover appeal of Cindy Landolt, yet she’s probably more beloved than she is. Alina doesn’t participate in sexually explicit pornography like Denise Masino or Brandi Mae Akers, yet she’s still considered unbelievably sexy. She isn’t as prominent on social media as Lauren Drain, but Alina is heads and shoulders more popular than Miss Drain will ever be. That isn’t to insult Miss Landolt, Miss Masino, Miss Akers, or Miss Drain – but rather to point out the impressiveness of Miss Popa’s popularity.

But it isn’t just about popularity. It’s emotional appeal. Alina makes us feel things. Intense things. Intense thoughts, feelings, and fantasies. One does not simply look at a picture of Alina flexing her large muscles and not experience a rise in blood pressure. Unless one is already in a vegetative state. Heck, looking at Alina’s body of work may very well put you in a vegetative state. And you probably wouldn’t complain too loudly when that happens.

She is a unique lady. She’s a one-of-a-kind. Her appeal is both obvious and not obvious at the same time. Alina is the GOAT, but she’s more than that. She’s a queen. No, rather she’s THE Queen. The Queen of Female Bodybuilding.

Alina Popa was born on October 12, 1978 in Brăila, Romania. Like many female bodybuilders, she led a fairly active lifestyle, having competed in track and field sports since she was 12 years old. In her late teens and early 20s, Alina became a regular gymgoer and started to do what guys always do at the gym but some ladies are reluctant to: lift weights.

In 2000, she placed 2nd in a local regional contest, which probably boosted her confidence and gave her the “hunger” to compete in more. That obviously set off a firestorm. The rest of her impressive résumé is as follows:

  • 2000 IFBB National Championship – 3rd (HW)
  • 2003 IFBB National Championship – 1st (MW)
  • 2004 IFBB European Championship – 2nd (HW)
  • 2005 Mixed Pairs European Championship – 2nd
  • 2005 Women’s European Championship – 5th
  • 2006 Grand Prix Due Torri – 1st
  • 2007 NABBA Miss Universe – 1st (Miss Physique class)
  • 2008 IFBB Worlds Santa Susanna – 1st (Overall and HW)
  • 2010 IFBB Ms. International – 8th
  • 2011 IFBB Ms. International – 3rd
  • 2011 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 5th
  • 2012 IFBB Ms. International – 3rd
  • 2012 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 4th
  • 2013 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 2nd
  • 2014 IFBB Ms. Olympia – 2nd
  • 2016 WOS Rising Phoenix World Championships – 3rd
  • 2018 IFBB Muscle Vodka Tampa Pro – 1st
  • 2018 Rising Phoenix World Championships – 1st

There’s no need to rehash the controversy in 2014 when Alina placed 2nd to Iris Kyle in the final Ms. Olympia contest. Alina placed 2nd the previous year and every prognosticator thought this would be the year the seemingly unstoppable Miss Kyle would be unseated. Alas, that did not happen. Iris won her 17th overall IFBB professional title, an eyepopping achievement that deserves considerable recognition. But in the hearts and minds of FBB fans everywhere, Alina deserved to place 1st at least once while the Ms. Olympia still existed. She may not have persuaded enough judges to earn that crown, but she’s definitely earned our awe and admiration. We understand that one’s accomplishments are not always defined by others.

So as far as professional competitions go, Alina may not technically be the GOAT, but she’s nevertheless one of the greatest to ever have stepped onto the stage. But for those of us who don’t need external validation for the things we love, we can live with that. Others who crave that validation are probably still bitter to this day.

Alina is a Queen because she’s everything you could possibly ask for in a female bodybuilder. She has it all: Brains, beauty, brawn, charm, and grace. She’s beautiful, yet approachable. She’s accomplished, yet humble. She’s tough, yet kind. She’s relentless, yet grounded. She’s glamourous, yet authentic. She’s strong, yet compassionate. She’s muscular, yet still unquestionably feminine. She’s big, yet curvy. She’s confident, yet amicable. She’s a woman, yet she doesn’t let her gender define her.

Her body is flawless. Some may have been disappointed when she decided to get breast implants, but that is neither here nor there. She can choose to enhance herself if it makes her happy. Alina has achieved the near impossible: She appeals to female muscle fans across the entire spectrum. She appeases those who love big, big, big muscles. She also appeases the folks on the other side of the aisle who value traditional femininity and are turned off by FBBs who exhibit too many “masculine” qualities. There’s nothing masculine about Miss Popa. She’s as feminine as can be.

When the sport of female bodybuilding rose to prominence in the 1970s, there was a stigma attached to women who were so bulky it (supposedly) compromised their “femininity.” As a result, many female competitors intentionally chose to not get too big out of fear it would damage their ability to win contests. That’s bad news. So praising Alina’s uncanny ability to perfectly balance femininity and muscularity is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s the reason why she’s so beloved by female muscle fans around the world. On the other hand, it feeds into the perception that female bodybuilders are somehow obligated to also look feminine because not looking sufficiently feminine can be detrimental to their success.

Hm. This is an awkward place to be. It’s discouraging to praise ladies like Alina, Cindy, and Minna Pajulahti for their femininity and strength because – even if it’s implicitly implied – it reinforces the belief that women who are not like them are somehow inferior. Jennifer Kennedy and Kathy Connors are not inferior. They’re also awesome and deserving of respect. They may not get the same universal adoration as the previous group, but they are still worthy of our undying love. It’s much easier to defend Cindy Landolt than it is Miss Kennedy, a fact that begrudgingly acknowledges the reality that traditional femininity still matters to a great deal of people.

FBBs like Miss Kennedy have deep voices, masculine-looking faces, and a “roughness” about them that makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable. One cannot deny that, even though one can also argue that these features do not chip away at her identity as a strong sexy woman. Alina’s presence is a breath of fresh air because she checks every box a female muscle fan could ask for, in addition to not having to carry much of the baggage typically associated with muscular women.

There isn’t a whole lot you can criticize about Alina. But we think of her as a Queen not just because of her crossover appeal, flawless beauty, perfect balance between muscularity and femininity, and considerable professional accomplishments. She’s earned her Queen Status because she makes us feel things very few other women – muscular or not – can also conjure up.

One of her most famous talents is the ability to isolate her muscles and bounce them on command. It makes us swoon faster than a pack of teen girls at an Elvis concert circa 1956. She can wiggle her glutes, bounce her pecs, and make her quads dance as if it were a cast member of Soul Train. Her muscle control is a sight to behold. It takes your breath away. Your eyes are peeled to the screen as you watch her show off her skills. It’s a shocking reminder of how in control she is of her body. She doesn’t just spend hours a day at the gym building her body – she owns her body. It doesn’t own her. She knows her physical self better than most of us think is even possible. That’s quite an accomplishment.

Watching Alina control her muscles – and knowing that we can never do that no matter how hard we try – makes us appreciate her that much more. She’s a Queen because she controls her domain with an iron fist. She’s a Queen because she doesn’t let anybody stand in her way. She’s a Queen because she does what she wants, looks the way she wants, and pursues her dreams with reckless abandon.

For the longest time Alina chose not to get breast implants. Then, she went under the knife in 2017 and looks great as a result. Does she look better? Yeah, but once again this is a tricky area. That isn’t to imply that she looked inferior before. She looked stunning before surgery and she still looks stunning today. Personally, I am not super picky about whether or not an FBB chooses to get breast implants. I love strong flat chested beauties as much as I love strong enhanced beauties. Fans may bicker and argue amongst themselves, but you’ll find no quarrel with me.

Whenever I scroll through photos and videos of Miss Popa I’m reminded of the famous quote from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet when Romeo remarks “Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.” Likewise, before Alina, true beauty did not exist. You’ve never actually seen a truly breathtaking woman until you witnessed Alina in action. Watching her strut toward the camera, flex her quads, and give the viewer a sweet but naughty smile is enough to give us cardiac arrest. But more than that, it’s sort of like a spiritual experience. Your brain realizes it’s seeing something that’s different from what it’s seen before. It’s difficult to explain, but universally understood by those who’ve experienced it.

Watching Alina is like being touched by the hand of divinity. You notice every muscle fiber, every curve, every fine detail of her immaculate body and wonder how a human being could possibly look that way. It’s as though every “traditionally beautiful” woman you’ve ever seen don’t matter anymore. Like Romeo, Shakespeare’s famous male protagonist thought he’d seen it all. He thought he knew what a beautiful woman looked like. Then, he saw Juliet. And his whole world came to a crashing halt. His paradigm shifted. His perspective changed forever. What he thought he knew he immediately threw away into the trash can.

He knew nothing. And now he knows everything.

In similar fashion, we thought the “perfect woman” would look like Marilyn Monroe or Pamela Anderson or Trish Stratus or Megan Fox. Little did we know that our standards were way too low. Heck, our standards weren’t even in the right curriculum. Alina Popa dominates them all. She vanquishes her enemies like Alexander the Great marching through Persia. She redefines beauty, or even transcends the word “beauty.” Yes, that’s more like it. She transcends all conventional wisdom.

Alina transcends the sport of bodybuilding. She’s bigger than it – metaphorically speaking. She’s in her own class. She may not be the most accomplished or legendary or historically noteworthy, but she’s loved by everyone who knows her or knows of her. There’s also something strangely pure about her. She rarely does nudity (only a few photos of her topless exist) and she never does any kind of porn. That isn’t to demean any FBB who does go down that path, of course. But in Alina’s case, it works to her advantage. She’s sexy, but not in a naughty kind of way. She’s sexy in a way that isn’t wholesome (this isn’t the Disney Channel), but it’s not gratuitous either. Her sexiness is more charming than sinful.

If this seems like a series of rambling observations, that’s because it’s impossible to succinctly explain why Alina Popa is so amazing. All one can do is talk endlessly about why one loves her. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not rational. It’s unambiguous, yet not easy to describe.

In short, Alina Popa is a Queen because she exhibits one characteristic that very few beautiful women can match: Control.

Her muscle control is one thing. Her control over our hearts and minds is another. She controls us. Her beauty, brains, personality, aura, and ethereal nature have us in the palm of her callused hand. She can do the most mundane activity and make us go crazy. She can walk down a hallway wearing heels. She can bake bread. She can sit on a couch and watch TV. She can lie down on a bed and simply look up at the camera and smile. She can just stand there wearing a bikini and not say a single word. Alina can do anything and still make us go gaga over her. She doesn’t have to try to be sexy. She just is. Whether she’s wearing sweatpants or an elegant dress or a sparkly bikini, Alina appeals to us no matter what.

Come to think of it, she’s the most minimalistic female bodybuilder in the world. She’s simple. She doesn’t need to put too much effort into being sexually appetizing. She simply is…all because she busts her butt at the gym day-in and day-out. She makes immense sacrifices to look the way she looks. She puts in more work in a single day than most of us do in a month. And she does this because she wants to. It empowers her. It inspires her. It’s motivates her to get out of bed every morning. It’s her raison d’être. And we are grateful for her for making these tough decisions.

I believe Alina once told a story on Instagram about how her Romanian mother at first didn’t approve of her daughter becoming a female bodybuilder because Romanian girls are supposed to be “narrow and skinny.” But once Alina started winning trophies and accolades, her mother fortunately altered her opinion. Alina breaks stereotypes. She challenges what you thought you knew about female bodybuilders. And she does it with the cutest smile on her face.

Her muscle control mirrors her emotional control over her fans. Female bodybuilders are often described as being either “queens” or “goddesses.” A goddess is a deity who’s powerful but remains fairly detached from human civilization. A queen is also powerful but directly rules over her kingdom. A True Queen looks after her people with kindness, benevolence, and sternness. She’s authoritative, but not oppressive. A True Queen earns the trust of her people, as opposed to ruling over them through fear. A True Queen’s legitimacy comes from a place of love, not malice.

Alina Popa is loved. That is why she’s a Queen. Not because she says she’s a Queen, but because we say she’s a Queen. Because we want her to be our Queen. She’s a democratically elected Muscle Queen, not one imposed upon us by a third party. See the difference?

All hail Queen Alina!

She Belongs in a Museum

Rachelle Carter belongs in a museum.

Female bodybuilders are both athletes and artists. Personally, I consider them to be more artists than athletes, but that’s just me. Of course, that isn’t to minimize their athletic prowess or their belonging in the world of competitive sports. It’s more of a reflection of how I perceive their modus operandi.

They build their bodies to look a certain way. They lift, eat, hydrate, supplement, rest, and strategically plan their lives in such a way to achieve their desired look. This is why I consider them to be artists. Mozart had his symphony. Picasso had his canvases. Hemingway had his typewriter. Scorsese has his camera. Female bodybuilders have their bodies.

Their bodies are their canvases. It’s a blank slate. A sheet music with no notes. A film stock with no pictures. A chapel ceiling with no paint. A chorus with no conductor. They are in charge of their own destinies. No one will give them what they want. That’s not possible (yet). You can’t go to a plastic surgeon and ask them to give you large muscles. You can’t purchase a muscular physique on Amazon. You can’t cheat your way to the top. Yes, even with steroids. Human growth hormones won’t automatically give you large bulging muscles. You still need to put in the hard work at the gym to obtain them. And keep going back in order to maintain them. Or else they go away like winter snow when spring arrives.

She can choose to be as large as a world-class bodybuilder. Or she can be as slender as a fitness model. Either way, it’s her choice. And which reality comes to pass is entirely up to her. Using “bad genetics” as an excuse is just that. An excuse. And a bad one at that.

But I’ve already written about this. Nothing about this is new. We all know female bodybuilders are artists. We all know their bodies are art. We all know that we’re patrons of that art.

Here’s a cool fantasy I’ve thought about a lot recently. Perhaps many of you have too. Here’s what it looks like:

Imagine you’re a wealthy philanthropist. You’ve assembled hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars of wealth during your eventful lifetime. It doesn’t matter how. Maybe you’re a tech CEO. Or a lucky investor. Who cares. One day, you get a brilliant idea. You want to sponsor an art exhibit at a local museum. Or better yet, open up your own museum, perhaps in a makeshift environment like an abandoned office building or factory.

But you don’t want to showcase paintings, photographs, drawings, sculptures, or multimedia installations. No, that’s too old school. Too basic. Too…mundane. Been there, done that. Yawn. Instead, you want to display human bodies. And not just any kind of human body: Human female bodies. And not just any kind of human female bodies. You want to feature muscular female bodies.

Real muscular female bodies.

In various forms of dress. And undress.

But, uh, mostly undress.

Imagine thirty or so nude female bodybuilders standing around in a large room. Women of all races, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, and sizes. Some are posing. A few others are lying down. Others are dancing. One or two are masturbating. You might even catch a glimpse of two FBBs making love to each other. These ladies are standing on the ground, on a dais, on a bed, suspended above ground on wires, and so on. Some are doing explicitly sexual activities, while others are simply showing off their hard work. No matter what, you cannot help but be enthralled by what you’re witnessing. It’s not every day that you get to see this much female muscle in one central location!

Hey! No taking pictures on your phone! Unless you’re Cindy Landolt, of course.

The rules are simple: no touching, no taking pictures on your phone, and do not try to conduct a conversation with any of them. They won’t talk back. You can only look with your eyes. Drink in the moment. Experience what you need to experience. Leave a changed person.

And like most “radical” art, this exhibit is supposed to shock you. It’s provocative. Sensual. Alluring. Unforgettable. Unsubtle. In-your-face. Subversive. Erotic. Educational. And of course, unapologetically sexy. Very sexy. Almost too sexy.

Many people have seen photos of female bodybuilders in old sports magazines or TV documentaries. But few have been in the same room as one. And the experience will certainly be an eye-opener. You will not believe that such women can be real. No Photoshop or Hollywood-grade CGI are at play here. None of that. It’s all real. As real as it can get. Get used to it.

For fans of female bodybuilders, it’s a shame that our favorite ladies aren’t more prominently celebrated by our culture. They aren’t as “seen” as we’d like them to be. We love female bodybuilders but have limited opportunities to demonstrate that love. But more than that, we want FBBs to feel empowered, appreciated, and visible. They’ve worked their whole lives and made numerous sacrifices to look the way they look. One does not get hypermuscular by accident. It’s not a coincidence. You only look like that if you make a concerted effort to look like that. You have to expend blood, sweat, and tears over the course of several years to become that swollen. It takes pain – both physical and psychological – to achieve that level of muscularity. For women, it probably takes more labor and toil to get that big compared to their male counterparts. Life isn’t fair, kids.

So, it’s only fitting that they receive the chance to show off their hard work for an audience that might not necessarily want to see them. It’s one thing for a sympathetic audience to appreciate you. It’s quite another for an unexpected audience – or even one that’s pessimistic – to regard your body of work. And “body of work” should be interpreted literally, not just figuratively. The people who visit this art exhibit know theoretically what they’re getting themselves into, but they can’t truly comprehend what it’s like to see a muscular woman up-close until it actually happens.

The experience of looking at a muscular woman should be audacious. Exploitative. Daring. Bold. Offensive. It’s a powerful experience made more memorable by the fact that such sculpted women are so rare in our world. You don’t see women who look like Brigita Brezovac walking down the street every day. Heck, you may never in your life encounter a woman who looks like her. But if you are lucky enough to be able to, I can guarantee you will remember it for the rest of your existence.

One exhibit should feature Larissa Reis posing exactly like this.

Whenever I have the privilege of meeting a female bodybuilder for a muscle worship session, inevitably there’s going to be a moment during our time together when I think to myself “she belongs in a museum.” I may even tell her that. It’s a natural reaction when you’re in the throes of touching her hard, curvy body in the most appreciative and intimate manner possible. A point I’ve made before that bears repeating is the fact that for most highly accomplished people, their impressive accomplishments are not immediately obvious. For example, you could be sitting on the bus or at a coffee shop or at the library and for all you know the random person sitting next to you is a world-class violinist. Or expert astronomer. Or well-respected heart surgeon. Or once appeared as an extra in a James Bond movie or an episode of Game of Thrones. Or served in the military many years ago and came within a few inches of assassinating Osama bin Laden long before 9/11. Or someone who hosts a podcast that gets two million downloads a month. Or someone who once played the bass for a famous band during one forgettable summer concert.

Regardless, for these highly accomplished people, you can’t really tell what their accomplishments are unless you ask them. Or if they volunteer that information to you. But for a female bodybuilder – and male bodybuilders too – her accomplishments are right out in the open. It’s plain for all to see. It’s embedded onto every fiber of her body. Her artistic achievement isn’t just on her body (like a tattoo artist), but it is her body. Her body is her art. Her art is her body. And for that reason, she definitely belongs in a museum.

But more than that, the sight of a muscular woman elicits a different emotional reaction than seeing a muscular man. By and large, our society is conditioned to not think of a muscular man as being unusual. We know that guys who look shredded like an NFL linebacker are still statistically rare, but seeing a fellow like that up close and personal isn’t something that will make you stop dead in your tracks. Seeing a muscular woman, on the other hand, will make your jaw drop to the floor. As it should.

The sight of a muscular woman makes some people feel disgusted. Or insecure. Or inadequate. Or confused. Or aroused. Or angry. Anger can be a byproduct of insecurity – or a method for disguising one’s insecurity. Seeing a muscular woman distorts our reality and causes cognitive dissonance. We are unable to process what we’re seeing precisely because we rarely ever get to see something like this. Our brains hurt because our brains are processing new information. Women are supposed to be small and dainty. Guys are supposed to be large and buff. But to see a woman with muscle mass that surpasses that of your typical gym bro dude…that visual subversion creates psychological conflict in our minds. Conflict that makes us feel strong feelings. Feelings we cannot easily explain or articulate into words.

Another features Julie Ann Kulla sitting on a bed looking exactly like this.

For misogynists who don’t like strong women – “strong” both in the physical and emotional sense – seeing a muscular woman in the flesh feels like a sledgehammer being smashed into their toxic narrowmindedness. It’s a harsh reminder that their limited understanding of the world is probably a product of their own internal self-hatred. They hate strong women because they themselves are weak, feeble, and hopeless. They’re projecting their own inadequacies onto highly accomplished women who’ve done things they can only dream of doing. Female bodybuilders challenge in the most explicit way possible the notion that women are destined to be the “weaker sex” and that men own a monopoly on strength. Men do not, as it turns out, own any such claim.

I don’t want to suggest that guys who love female bodybuilders are more enlightened, intelligent, and socially progressive than those who do not. In all seriousness, there might be a small sliver of truth to that, but overall the love of FBBs can be politically neutral. I do believe, however, that guys who love FBBs are probably less sexist and hateful than guys who are genuinely disgusted by them. But I could be wrong about that.

But let’s return to my hypothetical situation involving the female muscle museum exhibit. Imagine being a sexist loser who is forced to walk through this room full of strong ladies. Everywhere you look, there are women with bigger muscles than you. They’re happier, more powerful, and more beloved than you’ll ever be. Do you react with bitterness, or a renewed commitment to becoming a better person? I sure hope it’s the latter, not the former. In this respect, this female muscle showcase can be a much-needed wake up call. A reminder that being angry does not make you righteous. That hating someone is less an indication of who they are and more a reflection of who you are. That you can become a better person if you choose to work on who you are. That you are not destined to be a loser for the rest of your life.

Siska Bossert looking like a chiseled sculpture. Because she is!

Beautiful female bodies deserve to be seen. Female bodybuilders deserve more visibility, a larger share of the pie of our nation’s multimedia landscape. And I write this not out of a sense of self-serving fetishism, but out of a belief that muscular women can change the world. They can alter our perspectives. They can inspire us to become better people. They can force us to reevaluate our own prejudices and dedicate our lives to self-improvement.

Because female bodybuilders are beautiful. Because female bodybuilders are awe-inspiring. Because female bodybuilders have the potential to break the chains of hatred and foment the foundations of progress. Because of this, there’s no doubt that…

…she belongs in a museum.

So pay your ticket, stand in line, and prepare to have your eyes, heart, and imagination opened. You might just like what you see.

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 attract 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.

The Female Muscle Dark Web

Faceless hooded anonymous computer hacker
You’ve just entered the Matrix…er, the Dark Web!

Deep within the shadowy depths of the Internet, there exists a dark and mysterious space where few dare to tread. You may have heard of it, or perhaps you’re hearing about it for the first time. No matter what, you’re scared to acknowledge it. You’re frightened to visit it. You cannot wrap your mind around why it exists in the first place. Its very existence is a conundrum to you, a macabre riddle that cannot easily be solved.

To attempt to understand this enigmatic space is to dip your toes into a New World that you never knew existed. Even if you’ve already heard of it, there is nothing that can prepare your mind for what is to come. No one is ever “ready,” even those who claim to be. No one.

And once you discover this New World, your mind is changed forever. Your attitude is permanently adjusted. Your worldview flips upside down. Your paradigm doesn’t just shift; it shatters into a billion pieces and is unable to reform itself. You aren’t sure if you would ever want to go back, but that debate is now over. You’re past that threshold, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Resistance is futile. That’s for damn sure.

What type of Internet space am I referring to? Shouldn’t the answer be obvious by now?

Of course, I’m talk about…

…Bronies.

Grown men who adore “My Little Pony,” a Hasbro-developed entertainment franchise aimed at little girls. Apparently, there are adult men – at least, they claim to be adult men – who are into this sort of thing. Very into it.

Wait. That might not be right. Maybe I’m talking about furries? “Twilight” fan fiction? Uh, people who actually liked the Star Wars prequels?

Nah. That’s been done before. Nothing to see here. Move along now. Outside of activities that are clearly criminal, there aren’t a whole lot of fetishes, strange fandoms, and social perspectives that we, as a whole, won’t tolerate. Chalk that up to our “live and let live” attitude that, for the most part, still permeates throughout our society. You don’t need to “approve” or “understand” these subcultures to acknowledge that it’s fine that they exist as long as no one gets hurt.

Arguably, the very concept of “common culture” is starting to go by the wayside. Sure, there will always be things that unite us as a culture – at least temporarily. The Super Bowl, the release of a new Marvel movie, and catchy pop songs are a few examples (this, despite the fact that sports is becoming increasingly more politicized in the wake of high profile protests during the singing of the American national anthem). However, what’s becoming a more significant facet of modern life is the growing acceptance of subcultures as acceptable off-shoots of our main culture.

Dark web - Angela Salvagno
Angela Salvagno chatting with her fans through webcam.

For example, once upon a time ago drag culture was an underground subculture that existed out of sight and out of mind for the majority of us. Today, it’s still not quite a “mainstream” culture (properly understood), but it lives just outside that bubble. Or, it lives tangentially within mainstream culture. Or on the fringes of our main culture. Or, drag performers like RuPaul have one foot inside main culture and the other food inside the drag subculture. RuPaul’s popular TV show certainly contributed to the evolution of drag going from “out of sight, out of mind” to “not quite out of sight, not quite out of mind.”

Female bodybuilding fandom, on the other hand, is still considered an underground subculture. While going to a strip bar or smoking weed are still fairly taboo activities, they’re not as taboo as they once were. You don’t need to “approve” of what goes on inside a strip club, but you can accept it existing right next to your favorite nail salon. You don’t need to like the smell of marijuana at a public park, but that won’t stop you from walking your dog along his or her favorite dirt path. Just try to avoid the odor if you must.

Yet, engaging in a muscle worship session with a female bodybuilder is not like going to a nudie bar or getting high while watching reruns of All in the Family. It’s not a very well-known activity. In our mainstream culture, female bodybuilders are nowhere close to being within an ear shot. Thus, for those of us who love FBBs, the Internet is the only place where we can enjoy our mutual love for them.

Is there such a thing as the “Female Muscle Dark Web?” Eh, sort of. But not really.

There are popular websites like HDphysiques.com, saradas.org, sexymusclegirls.com, wb270.com, areaorion.blogspot.com, and sessiongirls.com. Heck, a small number of you might consider my humble blog to be among them. I’m also a fan of Female Muscle Slave. He’s an incredible blogger who is keenly tuned-in to the competitive side of the industry in addition to the fandom side of the industry. Check him out if you haven’t already.

So are there popular female muscle-themed websites where fans gather to congregate? Sure. Does that qualify as a “Dark Web?” Meh, probably not.

Hold on. Before we proceed any further, let’s try to define what the “Dark Web” actually means.

The terms “Dark Web” and “Deep Web” sometimes get used interchangeably. This shouldn’t be the case. Technically speaking, the “Deep Web” is a portion of the Internet that exists below the Surface Web. The Surface Web are things like Amazon.com, Facebook.com, Twitter.com, NFL.com, ESPN.com, StarWars.com, Reddit.com, and any other “normal” website you come across every day. These websites – and countless others that aren’t as popular – are indexed by Google and other search engines for easy access. The idea of the “Surface Web” doesn’t need too much explaining.

However, beneath the Surface Web exists a whole host of websites that aren’t indexed by these search tools. The concept of the Deep Web includes all the websites that are intentionally (or unintentionally) hidden from traditional search applications. Most of them are beta sites or old websites that have gone out of commission. Most of it is useless junk. Most of it is boring.

Dark web - Callie Bundy
Callie Bundy has become sort of a mini Internet “celebrity” due to her Instagram page.

Some of it can be exciting. Or useful. Journalists and human rights activists who live in repressive regimes use channels like Tor that are outside of the Surface Web to network with peers in other countries. How do you think we’re aware of the diabolical starvation methods employed by the Kim regime in North Korea or the anti-theocratic movement in Iran?

That being said, there’s a portion of the Deep Web that is a bit more, uh, scandalous. This includes websites where you can sell and purchase illegal guns, stolen credit cards, drugs (both narcotics and prescription medication), child pornography (and other kinds of illegal pornography), leads to hired assassins, and anything else you can think of that you can’t exactly find at your local Target.

This is what is meant by the Dark Web. Dark, scary, frightening, unethical, illegal, and potentially deadly. Terrorist organizations like ISIS and al-Qaeda communicate with each other through Dark Web channels. So do Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other extremist groups that are under FBI surveillance.

Not exactly the type of stuff that you want your Grandma to know you’re into.

To be clear, female muscle fandom exists solely on the Surface Web. I highly doubt much of it exists below that. And if any of it does, it’s probably there for a reason. By and large, female muscle fandom can be found through a simple Google search. No need to go further than that. Thanks to Instagram, our access to our favorite FBBs, fitness models, and weightlifting enthusiasts is more open than ever before. Thanks to video curating sites, I can watch endless footage of Denise Masino playing with her clit without having to put on my detective hat. Of course, such videos shouldn’t be viewed during work hours or on your office computer.

Yet, FBB fandom remains an Internet subculture. An Internet subculture that can be found on the Surface Web. So while the so-called “Female Muscle Dark Web” isn’t really a thing, we can use it euphemistically to describe the forums where this subculture is alive and well.

Dark web - Lindsay Mulinazzi
Not following Lindsay Mulinazzi on Instagram? Shame on you!

In many ways, the Internet is the only substantial place where female muscle fandom can happen. Not too many of us get to attend bodybuilding shows. Only a small number of us have the expenses, inclination, and opportunity to meet an FBB for a muscle worship or fantasy wrestling session. So when it comes to experiencing these beautiful women, our computer screen and smartphone are really the only avenues in which we can do that. I can easily go to my local shopping mall and purchase a brand new Star Trek shirt. I cannot easily go to that same mall and find any paraphernalia affiliated with female bodybuilders.

This is why many FBBs utilize social media as much as they can. It’s their best way to connect with their fans. Or to put it another way, it’s the only way they can regularly connect with their fans. Many FBBs offer webcam appointments, AMA chats (“ask me anything”), and members-only content through their personal websites. This is a classic example of meeting your clients where they’re at. Why break your back working a traditional 9-5 job when you can easily make $100 per hour just chatting with a bunch of strangers from the comfort of your living room?

The Female Muscle Industrial Complex – a term that apparently I just coined – is a niche market with a fairly undefined consumer base. In any given city, town, or municipality, you could have 200 female muscle fans, 2,000 female muscle fans, or 20,000 female muscle fans. You don’t know exactly. But it doesn’t matter where they are geographically. It doesn’t even matter what language they speak. The only thing that does matter is whether or not they have Internet access and enough privacy to feel “safe” to experience their love of muscular women. That’s it, practically speaking.

The Female Muscle Dark Web isn’t dark, nor is it just confined to the web. But it is a real space full of real people who share a mutual interest in women with lots of muscle. And this space hasn’t been driven underground by some prudish cabal of anti-FBB misogynists. In fact, it’s always been underground. Or rather, not within the mainstream. Just because something isn’t considered “mainstream” doesn’t mean there’s some massive conspiracy to ensure it remains outside of the mainstream. Some things just don’t pick up steam. Some things are just destined to stay put where they are.

This isn’t a tragedy by any stretch of the imagination. Muscular women will always be here, regardless if mainstream bodybuilding organizations want them included or not. As long as there are women who desire to become a better version of their current selves, female bodybuilders will always be with us. As long as there are women who believe being “strong” and “independent” means being something beyond a simple corporatized rallying cry, FBBs will never die out. The demise of female bodybuilding has been greatly exaggerated. I don’t see any evidence of that happening anytime soon.

Dark web - Goddess Severa
The 6’5″ Goddess Severa is a fan favorite of female muscle/dominance enthusiasts.

Long story short, FBBs and fans of FBBs cannot wait for legacy media outlets to give them their due. It just won’t happen. Sports Illustrated or ESPN aren’t going to cover female bodybuilders (or male bodybuilders, for that matter) like they do basketball or football stars. Those athletes enjoy a powerful perch that doesn’t appear to be eroding. To expect FBBs to ever be mentioned in the same breath as Kevin Durant, Serena Williams, or Julio Jones is folly.

So the obscure and not-so-sinister parts of the web are where FBBs are allowed to shine. And fans don’t seem to mind all that much. Some of us may hope and pray for a day when FBBs can enjoy mainstream status as any normal celebrity would, but most of us aren’t holding our breaths. And the good new is that we don’t need to.

Our access to our favorite athletes is as open and easy as it’s ever been. Just because you don’t feel comfortable talking about Alina Popa’s glutes or Theresa Ivancik’s pecs openly at Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t mean you have a reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed that you are secretly into that sort of thing. On the contrary, you have nothing to worry about. You can be into muscular women without having to tell a single soul about it. That should feel liberating. But if you do want to tell somebody about it, you know where to look. And that can also feel liberating.

Your female muscle community is just a few clicks away. Like it or love it, you can choose to engage in this community, or you can choose to ignore them and keep your interests to yourself.

Either way, it’s your choice. And that’s truly liberating.

Karen Zaremba: My Sentimental Favorite

Hand bras are the worst!
Hand bras are the worst!

Every female muscle fan has “the one” who truly made them see the light. It’s not necessarily the first muscular woman they ever saw or the one they would consider to be their favorite. Personally, the first FBB I ever noticed was Lisa Marie Bickels, a former U.S. Marine who caught my attention more than ten years ago during my college years.

My current favorite is Denise Masino, a devilishly sexy siren with an endowment between her legs that can only be described as scrumptious. Miss Bickels isn’t close to being a favorite of mine and Miss Masino is someone I discovered later on. Thus, the subject of the woman who played a crucial role in my “female muscle awakening” is none other than Karen Zaremba.

Karen Zaremba was born on January 27, 1964 in Detroit, Michigan. Back then, Detroit was deserving of its nickname of The Motor City and the breeding ground of some of the most recognizable names in American pop music (Motown, anyone?). Today, Detroit resembles a Third World country, but that’s another story for another day. On that fateful day in the heartland of America, the world was introduced to a gorgeous young lass who would one day grow up to become one of the sexiest female bodybuilders the Universe has ever known.

Today, Karen resides in Clinton Township, which is less than 30 miles north of her birth town. So Karen didn’t scurry too far from the crib, as it were. I suppose there’s no reason why one should move far away from home unless there were extenuating circumstances. If you like where you live, why not stay there? Karen and her family obviously feel this way.

Like many beautiful female bodybuilders, Karen is the mother of two children and is happily married. Evidently, she never had any problem balancing her work/home life with her chosen profession of being a competitive bodybuilder and fitness model. Standing at a modest 5”2” and weighing 124 pounds (give or take), she describes herself as a “stay-at-home Mom” when she isn’t working in the fitness industry. Of course, many of the interviews that I’ve used to curate this information are several years old, so take this with a grain of salt.

Love those abs!
Love those abs!

From what I can gather, Karen no longer competes and probably doesn’t participate in bodybuilding anymore. Like many FBBs, details about their personal lives are scant, making it a challenge to paint a complete picture of what she’s like. I am confident that whatever she’s doing now, she’s probably happy with her life and wouldn’t want things to be any other way.

Her contest history is as follows:

2007 – Europa Super Show: 8th place, Lightweight

2006 – IFBB Motor City Pro Figure: 16th place

2006 – IFBB Pittsburgh Pro Figure: 16th place

2005 – NPC National Figure Championships: 2nd place, Class A (earned her IFBB pro card)

2005 – Junior Nationals: 3rd place, Class A

2005 – Junior USA: 3rd place, Class A

2004 – Central States Figure championships: Short Class, Masters and Overall Winner

2003 – Michigan Novice Bodybuilding championships: Lightweight, Masters and Overall Winner

Of course, this might not reflect her full contest history, but my quick bit of Internet research reveals that this is pretty comprehensive. If you know of any further contests that Karen has participated in, please do not hesitate to let me know in the comments below.

As one can clearly see, her contest history isn’t remarkable or noteworthy. Pretty standard for someone who loves to compete but isn’t too committed to becoming an elite competitor. This is not meant to be a slight against her. This is just to say that when she was a competitive bodybuilder, she wasn’t someone you would have associated as being the best of the best.

Poetry in motion.
Poetry in motion.

She came, she saw, she…participated. Her accomplishments are as modest as her objectives. She didn’t aim to be better than everybody else; she just wanted to see what she could do. Many competitors (both male and female) are not necessarily “in it to win it.” Many are in it for no other reason than to have fun, challenge one’s self, and meet new people while trying new things.

That’s an attitude we need to see more in our world.

But that’s not why she’s a sentimental favorite of mine. I discovered Karen in 2005 or 2006, so in other words a solid decade ago. Back then, I would have been 18 or 19 and Karen would’ve been 41 or 42. Think it’s unusual for a boy in his late teens to completely fall in love with a woman who’s more than twice his age? A woman who is nearly old enough to be his own mother? I certainly thought so at the time, but I didn’t think there was anything wrong or abnormal about it.

Why was there nothing unusual about this? Well, have you taken a good look at her?

Yowza!

Karen is one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. She has an authentic look to her that’s difficult to explain but easy to see. Her dark hair is beautifully complemented by her olive complexion, a skin tone that perfectly accentuates her muscles. She’s legendary for her six-pack abdomen, which she is not shy about showing off to the camera. I briefly went through a stage of having a six-pack fetish. Can you possibly guess why?

Facially, she doesn’t look like a cookie-cutter Playboy Playmate or a nameless fashion model you see plastered across shopping mall corridors. It’s too clichéd to say she looks like the “girl next door” or the “hot mom next door,” but it’s sort of true!

What initially struck me about Karen, and it still strikes me today, is how effortlessly sexy she is. When she walks, her hips poetically bounce in a way that can make your heart stop. She’s very feminine, so much so you forget that all those negative stereotypes about female bodybuilders even exist. Of course, she’s a mother – which allows her to be called a certain idiotic acronym that I refuse to mention on this blog. Personally, I find muscle moms appealing, but there are certain misogynistic levels I refuse to lower myself to.

Baby got back!
Baby got back!

Perhaps that’s at the root of my attraction to Karen Zaremba. She’s a muscular woman who transcends the “muscle chick” fetish. She isn’t just “beautiful for a female bodybuilder,” she’s “beautiful…period, end of story.” Karen forced me to view muscular women through a different lens. No longer were all FBBs big, oversized masculinized “women” who’ve vehemently rejected traditional femininity and womanhood. I may not have felt exactly that way toward FBBs at the time, but my worldview was limited during those years. Karen encouraged me to expand my horizons.

Then, the floodgates opened. I discovered Annie Rivieccio. Then Lisa Cross. Then Alina Popa, followed by Yvette Bova and Denise Masino and Deidre Pagnanelli. I found out about Michelle Maroldo and Denise Hoshor. And Brandi Mae Akers. Of course, Victoria Dominguez. And other women like Nikki Fuller, Debi Laszewski, Sondra Faas, Marina Lopez, Catherine Holland, Emery Miller, Gayle Moher, Lauren Powers, Shawn Tan, Julie Germaine, and newcomers like Shannon Courtney, Minna Pajulahti, Dani Reardon, and Sheronica Sade Henton. There are many more to name. We could go on for hours. I’m still discovering new beautiful ladies seemingly every single day.

But I never forgot my roots, as the saying goes. Karen Zaremba remains on the front of my mind and tucked away snuggly in my heart. She isn’t just one of my first discoveries…she remains one of the best and brightest. I have the feeling I’m going to feel the same way regardless of how many additional tens of thousands of muscular women I’m introduced to in the future.

But let’s return to Karen’s effortless sexiness. It cannot be understated. Karen doesn’t walk; she glides. She doesn’t smile; she glows. She doesn’t pose; she radiates. She doesn’t flex; she blossoms. She doesn’t impress; she transcends. She doesn’t compete as a bodybuilder; she elevates the ceiling of human potential. She isn’t just beautiful; she’s ethereal and magnanimous. Karen Zaremba exceeds your expectations yet doesn’t seem to be trying to do anything other than being herself.

That takes more than talent. That takes a flawless combination of natural gifts, determination, hard work, and instincts. No one can teach you how to be as angelic as Karen. Nor could she necessarily teach others the ropes. Some of us are more radiant and charismatic than others for reasons that cannot be rationally explained or easily transferrable.

Karen's skin tone is the best.
Karen’s skin tone is the best.

Perhaps part of her appeal is her laidback Midwestern demeanor. Karen doesn’t boast the flashiness of an entitled California-bred pseudo-celebrity. Nor is she a snooty East Coaster who treats bodybuilding as her ticket to Broadway-style stardom. I am, of course, exaggerating and wildly stereotyping millions of people in the United States (which is trendy in the year 2016), but what cannot be denied is the refreshing authenticity that Karen brings to the table.

She doesn’t post selfies every single day on Instagram. In fact, I don’t think Miss Zaremba even has an Instagram account. When you research her, you don’t actually find a whole lot. This adds to her mystique. Because thousands of photos and hundreds of hours of video footage of Karen don’t exist, we can only witness a small slice of who she is. This allows us to fill in the blanks wherever we see fit.

So I can speculate that she’s modest, down-to-earth, and full of “small town charm” because…well, I feel like it. Is this based on extensive knowledge of her personality, lifestyle, and background? Nope! Our idealized version of people is what fuels our love for celebrities.

Karen Zaremba may not be a traditional celebrity, but in my heart she’s a glamorous superstar.

She comes across as a super chill lady who will just as likely bake you a batch of gingerbread cookies as she is to rapidly do 25 pullups as if it were no big deal. She’s a mom and she loves being a mom. She once was a muscular woman who also doesn’t mind being a loving wife and someone who would enthusiastically serve on her local PTA board. Once again, this is based on nothing but what exists in my imagination. But doesn’t this seem plausible?

For her, bodybuilding isn’t her life’s calling or integral to her business model. Doesn’t it seem like for Karen being a bodybuilder was a “neat” thing to do? She wasn’t in it for the money, the glitz, or the fame. She didn’t “brand” herself as a bad girl or a sexy muscle siren or feminist superhero. She just let herself be herself. She’s a mom, a wife, and a friendly neighbor who thinks having big muscles would be nifty. You rarely see that level of unpretentiousness in today’s narcissistic culture.

In other words, Karen never wanted to be a celebrity – even among the small subculture of female muscle fans. Having big muscles wasn’t her way of feeding her ego. It was her way of experiencing self-empowerment. All she wanted to be was the best version of herself. For me, that’s all I need.

Karen left just enough to the imagination...yet revealed enough to let us know what she got. Such a tease!
Karen left just enough to the imagination…yet revealed enough to let us know what she got. Such a tease!

Just as any baseball or football player must eventually call it a career and “hang up the cleats,” Karen has now decided to forgo her muscles and become “normal-looking” again. I have no doubt that Karen still exercises to keep herself fit and trim, but from what I can gather (and she prefers to keep her personal life private, which is her right) she’s allowed her muscles to shrink. She’s now a former bodybuilder. She’s now a regular lady you see shopping for groceries at the supermarket on a quiet Tuesday afternoon. This isn’t disappointing or regrettable. She can do whatever she wants with her life.

But there is undeniably a small element of sadness at play here. It is a bit melancholy when a gorgeous FBB retires and relinquishes her muscularity. As a sports fan, you never want to see your favorite players withdraw from playing the game they love and ride off into the sunset back to civilian life. But time marches on and not everything lasts forever. There will be plenty of young up-and-coming Karen Zarembas who will take up her mantle. Heck, I’ve referenced many of them on this very blog.

So this is a celebration of a woman who leaves a legacy of making the world a more beautiful place, whether she has big muscles or not. Because of her, we now have stronger faith in the goodness of people and the potential of human achievement. Karen Zaremba never has to “prove” that she is gorgeous. She just is. She never hogs the spotlight and demands that people look at her. We look at her because we cannot help but look at her. That takes something special.

As an 18-year-old kid Karen made my heart leap out of my chest. She was more than twice my age and rarely ever did any nude modeling. She never did anything pornographic or overly sexual. She kept it classy. She kept things modest. You’ll never find a video of her sucking a porn star’s penis or masturbating with an oversized dildo. She never had to do any of those things to capture my attention, even all these years later.

She just had to be herself. And that was enough. And it still is.

Nothing Beats a Female Bodybuilder Who “Gets” It

Brandi Mae Akers is not just your girl-next-door. She's your big-and-buff-girl-next-door!
Brandi Mae Akers is not just your girl-next-door. She’s your big-and-buff-girl-next-door!

Do you know what’s awesome? A female bodybuilder who “gets” it.

And by “gets” it, I mean a female bodybuilder who understands why people love her and is willing to provide her fans what they want.

You’d think the vast majority of female bodybuilders, athletes, and amateur muscular women would be taking advantage of this, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Many FBBs are either uncomfortable or against (for a wide variety of reasons) “giving the fans what they want,” which of course is their prerogative. Nobody is claiming that FBBs must please their fans at every opportunity they get or that appealing to the fanbase is somehow essential to staying relevant to the scene (at least, I’m not claiming these things). Obviously, female bodybuilders are under no obligation to do anything other than what they want to do – or not want to do.

But occasionally, you’ll encounter an FBB who truly understands what guys and gals love in a muscular woman and will enthusiastically utilize that knowledge for maximum gain. She benefits and we benefit. That’s a win-win scenario, right?

Right. Off the top of my head, eight women in particular who “get” it the best are Denise Masino, Angela Salvagno, Amber DeLuca, Lisa Cross, Victoria Dominguez, Lindsay Mulinazzi, Emery Miller, and Brandi Mae Akers. There are others, but these women in particular stand out to me.

These ladies are some of the most well-known female bodybuilders in the world not just because of their competitive accomplishments – although we should not downplay their achievements on the stage – but because of their willingness to put their personalities and bodies out there so publicly and prominently. If I’m in the mood to watch some erotic female muscle videos, odds are I’m going to do a Bing search (my search engine of choice for finding videos for whatever reason) of any of these eight women. Or all of them, if I have the time and the inclination.

In the world of branding, advertising, marketing, and public relations (terms that could be used interchangeably), one of the key rules is that people don’t purchase products just because they need the product for practical reasons. They purchase it because it makes them feel a certain way: cool, culturally relevant, in-the-know, a part of a larger community, socially-conscious, better than people who aren’t using the same product, et cetera. For example, there isn’t any practical reason why someone would spend $200 on a brand new pair of Beats By Dre headphones when a less expensive generic pair would work just as well. But, the point of paying more has nothing to do with practicality. You don’t purchase a more expensive product because the music you listen to will necessarily sound better. You purchase it because it makes you appear socially hip with the “young people these days” (get off my lawn!).

Lindsay Mulinazzi makes me feel all of the emotions. All of them.
Lindsay Mulinazzi makes me feel all of the emotions. All of them.

It’s not about what the product has to offer. It has to do with the elevation of your social status as a result of publicly using the product. It’s marketing genius to associate a mundane product with enhanced social status – no matter how superficial that status may be. That’s why some of us are billionaires and others of us aren’t.

Likewise, astute female bodybuilders understand that their muscular bodies – while a fine, fine product unto itself – aren’t the only reason why guys and gals like us love them. We love them because of how they make us feel: giddy, sexually aroused, titillated, curious, imaginative, fascinated, awe-inspired, weak-kneed, excited, nervous (in a good way), frightened (also in a good way), emasculated (definitely in a good way), and so on. It’s not just looking at their beautiful bodies that make us return back to them time and time again. Female bodybuilders – whether they realize it or not – conjure up inside ourselves a whole host of visceral emotions that are ready to burst at the seams.

Whenever you see a tantalizing photo of a nude female bodybuilder provocatively posing for the camera or a gorgeous muscular porn star showing off all her assets for leering eyes, it’s nearly impossible to not react in a primal sort of manner. Your imagination goes wild. Your heartbeat starts to race. Intense feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, or admiration bubble to the surface. Every female muscle fan knows what I’m referring to. You wouldn’t be reading this blog post if you didn’t!

Entrepreneurial female bodybuilders who both recognize this phenomena and know how to exploit it for maximum gain are in rare company. Actually, that might be a bit unfair. It’s not just understanding what the customer wants; it’s also about being willing to give them what they want. Lots of female bodybuilders, competitors, athletes, and fitness models have little interest in overtly sexualizing their identities. There’s without question a sexual aspect to any form of sport/modeling in which sculpting the human body toward fitting a certain desired aesthetic is involved, but there are lines that many women choose not to cross.

Denise Masino is my favorite. Need I explain why?
Denise Masino is my favorite. Need I explain why?

I personally know a fitness competitor (she’s a former co-worker) who is also a mother of two young daughters. I don’t think she’s the type of person who would, in the style of Brandi Mae Akers, get naked, masturbate with a big black dildo, drop f-bombs like a drunken sailor, and post the video onto the Internet for anyone to see. She has every right to do such a thing, but knowing her personality and religious convictions, I highly doubt she’d ever do something like that!

So it’s not just about “getting” it. It’s also about wanting to “go there.” Not everyone wants to do things that appeal to their fanbase’s fetishistic interests. And that’s perfectly okay. They are under no obligation to do so under any circumstances.

But for those who are eager to “go there,” hats off to you! We fans deeply and sincerely appreciate your enthusiasm toward branding yourself in a way that can be awkward, uncomfortable, and troubling to others. I cannot imagine what friends, family members, and spouses of porn stars – both muscular and non-muscular – must think about them. Do they approve of their chosen profession? Do the mothers and fathers of porn performers actually sit down and watch their sons/daughters suck the genitals of a random stranger as a form of entertainment? How awkward is that Thanksgiving dinner conversation?

Probably pretty darn awkward. While it is perfectly possible to excite, titillate, and thrill without being too explicit, what keeps customers coming back for more and more is when they encounter someone who stands out from the rest and consistently delivers on their promises.

But, it’s not just about being overtly sexual. The vast majority of sexually explicit porn out there is complete and utter garbage. It’s boring, crude, disgusting, and worse of all, unexciting. I don’t get excited watching two fake plastic surgery-enhanced nobodies having awful staged sex topped off with obnoxious screaming, moaning, and “orgasms” that are so phony even a pious Catholic nun could tell it’s not real. Even if it involves female bodybuilders. So what I’m talking about here isn’t necessarily explicit FBB porn, but the manner in which FBBs present themselves to their fans.

Devil in a Red Dress, that is Emery Miller.
Devil in a Red Dress, that is Emery Miller.

A female bodybuilder who “gets” it – as I’ve mentioned before – makes us feel things that we rarely feel. We’ve all seen attractive people before. I encounter physically beautiful women every single day of my life: at work, at the grocery store, on the street, at the gym, at a restaurant, at a bar, on the commuter train, etc. But none of them elicit the same response as whenever I am privileged to meet a female bodybuilder for a muscle worship session. In that moment, I’m not just meeting a beautiful woman. I’m meeting the most beautiful woman on the planet. Her strength makes me weak. Her confidence puts me in my place. I’m both scared and at ease. I’m turned on but still in awe. I’m completely focused on her but cannot make a rational thought. Time seems to stand still. That hour I spend with her seems like 20 minutes. She does things to my heart and mind that cannot be justifiably explained. But it doesn’t have to be. I know it and that’s all that matters.

Fans of FBBs gravitate toward women who make us feel these things. And this has very little to do with how sexy she acts, how “hardcore” she performs for the camera, or even what she physically looks like. For example, this is why I get completely aroused watching an FBB squat 400 pounds in sweat pants and a hoodie while I get totally bored watching two skinny topless college girls making out at a Mardi Gras party. Some people genuinely enjoy watching the latter. I prefer the former. I’d wager a guess that readers of this blog would agree with me.

Thankfully for us, there are lots of FBBs in this world who understand why we react this way. They understand why their muscles turn us on and why they personally turn us on. There are FBBs who understand the fetish of being an “older” woman and how turning 40 isn’t a curse, but instead an open door to captivating a whole new audience. She can add bonus points if she’s a mother. More bonus points if she’s a mother of multiple children. Hell, she can probably start rolling in the dough if she’s a grandmother as well!

In fact, many of us prefer our female bodybuilders to be on the “older” or “mature” side. We are enraptured by her experience, wisdom, and maternal acumen. An astute FBB won’t shy away from being older, but instead will milk it for all it’s worth. A business-savvy FBB won’t be embarrassed by her larger-than-normal penis-like clit; rather she points a camera directly in front of it and zooms in closely for everyone to see. A shrewd muscular woman doesn’t remain silent so that her unnaturally deep voice can’t be heard; she instead narrates for us exactly what she plans to do for us so that her rumbling voice is allowed to make the walls shake.

In many ways, an entrepreneurial female bodybuilder has to “think” like a customer. What do they like? What turns them on? Why do they love muscular women in the first place? Why do they keep coming back? Why do they like certain FBBs more than others? What can I learn from my competitors? What can I learn from my customers? How can I maximize my appeal while staying true to who I am? Where can I go from here? What is my potential?

FBBs who “get it” already know the answers to these questions. Denise Masino understands perfectly well there are millions of guys out there who drool over her large clitoris. Brandi Mae Akers doesn’t need to be told her pretty school-girl looks combined with impressively sexy muscularity make her irresistible. Angela Salvagno is very aware her dark olive complexion and meaty labia are her moneymakers. Amber DeLuca’s business card (assuming she even has business cards) only needs to say “Bad Muscle Girl” and nothing else. Need it say more?

What should Angela Salvagno's business card say?
What should Angela Salvagno’s business card say?

For these ladies and countless others, they’ve reached their levels of success because of two things: drive and smarts. The personal drive and determination to become a world-class bodybuilder need no explanation. You don’t become as big and buff as Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia by being a couch potato. Slackers need not apply. Large muscularity doesn’t happen by accident. It happens because you put in the blood, sweat, and tears necessary to build the body you want.

But the other aspect to this is smarts. And not just being strategic about lifting, eating, resting, and supplementation. That’s important too, but what I’m talking about is being smart in the business side of being a female bodybuilder in the 21st century. FBBs who are able to earn a living doing what they do must adapt to the economic realities they face. This means being willing to offer up your product (which, as unusual as it sounds, is your very own body) to your customers (people like us who blog and read blogs about female muscle) in an intelligent and strategic manner. Thankfully for everyone involved, there are plenty of FBBs who do this every single day.

So how do they do this? Do they procure customer surveys to learn what people like? A muscle worship session is very different than getting your oil changed or your roof reshingled, but the basic concept of offering a client value for a service remains the same. Do they ask a focus group of teenagers, millennials, the elderly, and stay-at-home mothers what kind of female muscle-themed porn they prefer to masturbate to? I wouldn’t want to sit in on that meeting or sift through those surveys.

Well, they just know. They have a keen awareness of human sexuality and what makes people tick. They are able to see their own bodies through the eyes of an adoring fan. They can empathize with others. They don’t judge harshly or unfairly the fetishes of others. They may not always understand what people like, but they respect their preferences nevertheless as long as no one is harmed.

There’s a reason why you’re attracted to certain female bodybuilders and have only a passing interest in others. You may not comprehend why or how that happens, but rest assured there are many bright and intelligent FBBs out there who do.

Like A Tiger Stalking Her Prey: Comparing a Muscular Woman to a Wild Beast

Desiree Ellis is a beast, no question about it.
Desiree Ellis is a beast, no question about it.

Imagine a hungry tiger, crouching low in the sagebrush, stalking an unsuspecting prey. An ill-fated rabbit is drinking water out of a river, unaware of his inevitable fate. He prepares to return back to his home until…

The tiger strikes. The prey is caught. The prey bleeds to death. The tiger eats its defeated victim and walks away from the brief encounter satiated and happy.

The rabbit leaves this cruel and unforgiving world so quickly he has no idea what just happened. One moment he’s enjoying a refreshing beverage from the river, the next he’s being savagely devoured by a bloodthirsty beast searching for sustenance.

So it goes.

Mother Nature can be cruel to the weak and unprepared. Those of us fortunate to live in modern times have conveniences, societal structures, and laws that ensure we don’t need to resort to such barbarity. Human beings do from time to time have to engage in such vicious behavior for the sake of survival, but thankfully that’s the exception and not the rule. Despite its flaw, isn’t the 21st Century great?

Yet, even for us city dwellers (or, Heaven forbid, those of us who live in the suburbs!) the “jungle mindset” has not gone completely away. We may shop at grocery stores, eat at fancy restaurants, drive sporty cars, use smartphones to communicate, read books to learn new information, and enjoy indoor plumbing, but deep down inside, buried in our psyches, we still secretly yearn to live in the wild.

Mankind may have become domesticated, but nature doesn’t go away that easily. We aren’t as far off from our caveman and cavewoman days as we might think (and no, I am not referring to the pop culture fad that is the Paleo Diet). We still enjoy hunting, hiking, athletic competitions, competing with others for a mate, and “earning” our right to live. We may not build our homes out of sticks and stones like the good old days, but we work at 40-hour-a-week jobs in order to pay for the roof over our heads.

Perhaps there’s still a part of us that yearns for our Paleolithic days. Even as a casual daydream. Or as the backdrop of a fetishistic fantasy. For those of us who love female bodybuilders, this fantasy manifests itself through our constant comparison (and association) of muscular women with wild beasts.

How many of you imagined the tiger described in the opening anecdote as a muscular cavewoman instead? How many of you thought about the helpless prey as a small, emaciated caveman who heralds from a rival clan? Or a badass chick slaying a (wo)man-eating tiger? Don’t worry if you didn’t initially. You’re sure to think about that now!

When fans of female bodybuilders describe the women they love, two different analogical themes usually emerge: Deific and animalistic.

Werk it, Aleesha Young!
Werk it, Aleesha Young!

The deific nature of female bodybuilders comes out when we talk about muscular women as being “goddesses” or “angels.” Describing a beautiful woman as an angel is quite mainstream. You don’t need to be George McFly to know what I’m talking about (if you don’t get this reference, ask your kids because they’re going to love it). Even the term “goddess” is more or less common among non-muscular women. But I cannot count how many times I’ve come across – or have personally used myself – terms like Muscle Goddess or Muscle Angel as nicknames for women like Alina Popa and Lindsay Mulinazzi.

It makes perfect sense. Female bodybuilders seem almost superhuman. Or in this instance, above human. And what types of creatures are above humanity? The gods, of course. Like Zeus and Athena looking down upon humanity from their ethereal clouds in the sky, female bodybuilders are like Hercules, a human/god hybrid who is technically a deity but has flesh-and-blood and chooses to live among us mortals.

The other theme is animalistic. One of my favorite football (for my non-American readers, I’m not talking about soccer) players of all time is Marshawn Lynch, a former running back for the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills. His apt nickname is “Beast Mode” because he runs like an unleashed wild beast when he’s plowing through defenders and picking up yardage. Even though Mr. Lynch (who’s being mentioned in this blog post so he doesn’t get fined) is now retired, he still sells merchandise that blatantly uses the Beast Mode brand.

Other athletes who are hardcore and play with reckless abandon are also often compared to beasts. Ronda Rousey, Rob Gronkowski, LeBron James, Manny Pacquiao, and others come to mind. There’s something to be said about an athlete who puts it all on the line, plays with a savage attitude, and doesn’t seem human when he or she is going about their business.

Bodybuilders, both male and female, are a different kind of animal (pun intended). Unlike athletes who compete in football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, boxing, or MMA, bodybuilding is a sport that’s based on subjective judgement, not head-to-head competition. Most of the hard work is done behind the scenes, or more specifically, in the gym and kitchen. Top bodybuilders aren’t dunking over each other, tackling each other, throwing punches at each other, or trying to strike each other out with a 95 mph fastball.

That’s not to say that bodybuilding isn’t a true competitive sport. It’s definitely competitive in every single facet imaginable. But it’s different than other sports. Not better or worse, but different.

However, the beastly comparisons come into play when we think about the physiques of bodybuilding athletes. They look animalistic. It’s hard not to look at a bodybuilder’s hypermuscular body and not compare them to an ox (“strong as an ox”), bull, horse, or lion. So bodybuilders don’t necessarily act like beasts when they’re on the stage, but they indisputably look like beasts.

Male bodybuilders are often compared to beasts. So are female bodybuilders. So what’s the big deal? Here are a few takeaways:

  1. Beasts and traditional roles of women

For as long as human civilization has existed, certain gender stereotypes and roles have also existed. Chief among them is the role of men being the hunters and gatherers and women as caretakers of the family and home. The clear-cut domesticated role for women still persists today in most parts of the world. Who usually takes care of the children? Either their mother or nanny (who is usually a woman). In other words, a maternal authority figure.

Men, on the other hand, are the so-called breadwinners. Men today may not actually hunt for their food, but they are encouraged to work at jobs that pay money intended to help put food on the table. Yes, women do make up a significant portion of the modern workforce, but old habits are often hard to break. Going back several centuries, men hunted for food. Women did not.

This social structure then makes the “woman as beast” motif a rather new phenomenon. Only in cartoons, graphic novels, fetish porn, and pulp literature do you see women portrayed as hunters and gatherers in the jungle (both literally and figuratively). Traditional gender roles make this paradigm not only unusual, but contrary to most of human history.

So associating a female bodybuilder with a wild beast is a definitive break from how we’ve traditionally viewed the role of women in our society. The “man as beast” motif makes sense from an anthropological perspective, but not the “woman as beast” theme. The fact we’ve come to view women in this light is fascinating.

  1. Humans vs. non-humans

An animal is not a human, which is stating the obvious. We don’t expect a human being (not even Usain Bolt) to be able to outrun a cheetah or lift more than a grizzly bear. Humans have certain physical limitations. We can’t fly like an eagle, crawl up a tree like a squirrel or swim underwater for long periods of time like a shark. That’s not in our DNA.

When a human being can (sort of) do things that an animal can, the beast comparisons start to roll in. Mr. Bolt is fast like a cheetah. Andy Bolton is as strong as an ox. Ronda Rousey is as lethal as an anaconda. LeBron James can jump like a kangaroo. We know they can’t literally accomplish feats that a beast can, but sports media (and fans) are often prone to employing hyperbole.

Sporting the shades, Roxanne Edwards is not a woman you want to mess with.
Sporting the shades, Roxanne Edwards is not a woman you want to mess with.

For female bodybuilders, this is even more significant. Because women are biologically not as strong as men, when a woman can achieve a level of muscularity and pure raw strength that surpasses many men, the beast comparisons matter even more. Female bodybuilders are human, but seem almost non-human. They totally destroy whatever notions we hold about the limitations of female physiology.

Male bodybuilders are sort of viewed this way, but it’s exponentially amplified when applied to female bodybuilders. Our perceived stereotypes (and scientifically-backed) beliefs about what women can and cannot physically do shatter when we encounter a muscular woman. She tears down walls that we put around the female species. Like Samson pushing apart the pillars at the Temple of Dagon, female bodybuilders defiantly demolish the box put around them with the ferocious strength of a beast.

  1. The fetishization of beasts

You don’t need to be an expert at Furry culture to know what I’m talking about. If you aren’t familiar with the Furry subculture, Google it and be prepared to feel supremely uncomfortable afterward (don’t say I didn’t warn you!). Yikes.

There exists in our culture the element of fetishizing wild beasts. Additionally, there is something fairly normal to this that has nothing to do with bestiality. Sexuality is a raw element to humanity, something that speaks to our base desires and ability to create future generations.

We like to think of humankind as being intelligent, civilized, cooperative, and advanced. Perhaps the smartest and most resourceful creatures who walk this Earth. It may not seem like it at times (just read the news for five minutes) but for the most part, we humans think of ourselves as superior creatures to wildlife in the jungle, fish in the ocean, and birds in the sky.

However, deep down inside there lurks a desire to reconnect to our animal brothers and sisters. It can get boring and tedious being a human, so why not switch it up for a change and live life (even in a pseudo-sexual manner) as an animal? This is less about anthropomorphism and more about believing that people are really no different than animals.

I’m no expert at zoophilia – and yes, such a term actually exists – but that sort of thing indeed does occur among some folks. Not a huge number of us, but there’s definitely something primal when it comes to thinking about human beings as being wild beasts in need of taming and domesticating.

  1. Beasts are a natural adversary for man

Returning to the hunters-and-gatherers motif, another angle to this discussion is the fact that beasts are also a natural adversary to mankind. Wild animals can be a safety hazard. We treat wild animals as food; just like they treat us in similar fashion. Beasts are not just a common opponent to humans, they often can be an existential threat to humans!

The popularity of the Planet of the Apes and Jurassic Park movies speak to this. People are, for whatever reason, naturally worried that someday their global dominance will come to an end. Endless warfare, environmental disasters, economic collapse, destruction of the civil social order, and other unknown threats ominously loom in the distance. We experience all these things now, but it can get worse, right?

Right. Or not. But fiction rarely gives us a rosy picture of the future. History has taught us that those in power are always paranoid about losing it. That goes for kings, queens, presidents, dictators, mob bosses, war lords, and other people in positions of power. Human beings of all shapes and sizes are the same way. Will super intelligent apes or genetically reconstructed dinosaurs eventually replace us as the dominant species on Earth? It’s doubtful, but one never knows how future events will unfold.

Kim Birtch has gorgeous eyes.
Kim Birtch has gorgeous eyes.

This deep-rooted fear might explain why people have a natural inclination to demonstrate who’s boss. People hunt wild game, eat meat, keep pets, and trap animals in zoos for a variety of reasons, but one hidden reason might be our subconscious desire to remind these beasts who’s in charge. Every time we eat a steak we think to ourselves, “This is what you get for being lower on the food chain!”

Therefore, when men who love female bodybuilders start to compare muscular women to beasts, the same phenomena might be happening. Men, on a subconscious level, view a muscular woman as a threat to his social dominance. She’s bigger and stronger than him, which goes contrary to what thousands of years of biological evolution has brought to us. So in order to retrieve his lost masculinity, he imagines muscular women as being a wild beast in need of domesticating. She’s like a hungry tiger who is threatening to unmercifully consume him and his family. How will he manage to survive?

Perhaps this explains why many guys (not me, but I’m not judging anyone) love to wrestle female bodybuilders. I prefer sensual muscle worship, but I do not speak for everybody. They want to “defeat” her in a battle of physical prowess. While this “victory” is more symbolic than anything else (fantasy wrestling is just that: a fantasy come to life), nevertheless it provides him emotional comfort that he’s still a man and she’s still a woman – regardless of how much muscle she’s packed on her body.

Beasts are either defeated or tamed. A defeated beast is forced to either become food or retreat back into their domains and lick their wounds. A tamed beast can become a subordinate or a partner.

Wow. Who knew female muscle fetishism could be so deeply psychological?

  1. Beasts lack inhibitions and manners

The last point speaks to why many of us love female bodybuilders in the first place: Female bodybuilders are rebels. They defy our expectations for what women are supposed to look like. They defy their biological limitations. They defy their socially-constructed subordinate role to men. They defy our standards of beauty, femininity, and masculinity. They do this whether they intend to or not.

What theoretically separates humans from beasts is that we’re civil and rational while beasts are uncivil and primitive. We live in air conditioned homes. They live in caves and makeshift nests. We can do algebra, calculus, perform symphonies, and write poetry. They can’t conceive of such activities. We can cooperate for mutual benefit. Beasts are forced to kill each other for the sake of survival.

But whenever you read about terrorism, war, political corruption, and crime in the news, it’s hard to say with a straight face that humans are civilized. Who are we to talk? We can be just as violent as a pack of wolves attacking a lone deer.

Beasts, however, lack inhibitions and manners. They are not expected to follow such protocols of rational behavior. A hungry tiger can slaughter a group of defenseless rabbits and none of us will blink an eye. A deranged psychopath can shoot up a public place like a school or a shopping mall and we (justifiably) look down upon that person with shame, disgust, and repulsion. People must behave in a certain way. Animals are, for whatever reason, not expected to do the same.

Beautiful legs on Autumn Raby.
Beautiful legs on Autumn Raby.

In vicarious fashion, maybe we envy the beast for not having to follow these rules. We are jealous that female bodybuilders have the self-confidence to pursue their dreams despite what society says – all the while we don’t possess even a fraction of those convictions. We love muscular women because not only are they physically beautiful, but because they’ve given themselves permission to do whatever they want to with their lives regardless of the consequences. That’s pretty cool. How many of us are willing and able to do the same thing?

We love female bodybuilders because they aren’t dainty flowers who feel constricted by social mores. They defiantly break those molds and create their own rules. They feel free to grunt, bust their tail, and sweat buckets at the gym without a second thought to what anybody else thinks. Their lack of “manners” is liberating. We get a sense of vicarious pleasure from watching this unfold.

I apologize if this post took an unexpected dark turn, but discussions about human sexuality isn’t always a bed of roses. Sometimes it is necessary to travel into the Dark Unknown in order to shine a light on Greater Understanding.

To summarize, there’s something undeniably animalistic about female bodybuilders. From the perspective of straight men who love female muscle, we fantasize about muscular women being wild beasts because it speaks to how we view our place in the global order. Are we at the top? Or at the bottom? Do we have power? Or are we powerless? Is our masculinity celebrated or squashed? Are men the stronger sex or are we secretly afraid that not all of us are able to carry this mantle?

Like the tiger hiding in the sagebrush, these questions are lurking in our minds. And like the tiger’s helpless prey, answering these questions may eventually lead us to an unpleasant confrontation.

Believe It or Not, Muscle Worship May Be a More Intimate Activity than Sex

Shawna Strong's last name is sure appropriate, wouldn't you say?
Shawna Strong’s last name is sure appropriate, wouldn’t you say?

I’ve written at length about muscle worship. If you need a summary of what this is all about, please refer to a previous blog post. I’ve even written detailed accounts of two of my past muscle worship experiences with female bodybuilders.

If you have some unquenched need to live vicariously through me (who doesn’t?), go check them out here and here.

One aspect of muscle worship sessions that I’ve formulated in my mind recently is one that I’m not entirely convinced of, but one I believe deserves to be discussed. Muscle worship is, simply defined, an activity involving a muscular participant (it could be a man or a woman) who allows a client to touch their body, usually for sexual gratification purposes. Other side activities usually occur in addition to this, but the crux of the matter involves intimately exploring a muscular person’s physical body in exchange for payment.

One thought I’ve had about this phenomenon may sound crazy at first, but sort of makes sense the more I think about it. Muscle worship may be a more personally intimate activity than sex.

I don’t want to make any blanket statements and say this is always true 100 percent of the time, but in certain circumstances this can possibly be true. Let me explain further.

Sex between two people is without a doubt a supremely intimate act. Perhaps the most intimate act you could do with another person. We won’t even get into sex between three, four, five or six people! So it seems rather odd that I would say such a thing like muscle worship can be more personal than sex.

Obviously, not all sex is created equal. Context matters a great deal. Sex between a long-time married couple who’s going through the motions definitely isn’t the same as awkward teenage lovers wanting to lose their virginities together during a romantic camping trip. There is a great deal of difference between these two scenarios. The same goes between a prostitute meeting a client versus a couple who has just been reunited after several months away from each other (think of a military veteran returning from an overseas war). Context is everything.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume we’re talking about ordinary run-of-the-mill sex between a couple who knows each other well and has no external drama going on. Got it?

Muscle worship, on the other hand, involves a female bodybuilder – and I’ll be talking exclusively about female bodybuilders, obviously! – providing her client access to her body. The degree of intimacy allowed varies from session provider to session provider, but the basic idea stays the same. Generally speaking, sex is an act where two people share their bodies together for the sake of mutual pleasure. Muscle worship is, by and large, a one-way road where the provider shares her body with her client but the client isn’t expected to share anything back (other than monetary compensation).

A female bodybuilder’s body isn’t just the flesh and blood she carries around on this physical planet. It’s her entire livelihood. From head to toe, even if she isn’t competing in contests, her body is what defines her professional identity. Of course, an FBB is way more than just her physical self. She has her own mind, soul, and divine worth. But her means of making a living depends solely on her body. A tax accountant, for example, offers services that are useful but at the end of the day wouldn’t be described as intimate. A tax accountant doesn’t risk anything personal when they work with a client. They don’t put themselves in nearly the vulnerable position an FBB does when they engage in a session with a complete stranger.

Ebony Goddess Coco Crush.
Ebony Goddess Coco Crush.

If, during a wrestling session, an FBB strains her back and cannot walk properly for a whole month, she loses out on a whole month’s worth of financial earnings. If a tax accountant strains his or her back while raking leaves in the backyard, it would still hurt like hell but he or she could still functionally do their job. Not so with an athlete whose physical body is their entire selling point.

Most female bodybuilders are damn proud of their bodies and have every right to be. And they want their fans to be able to appreciate their hard work with every opportunity they possibly can. But it’s one thing to watch an FBB pose on stage from a distance or watch a video of her on YouTube. It’s quite another thing to be in close proximity to her and feel with your own hands her handiwork. Being a session provider can be a dangerous thing. I’d like to think the vast majority of clients are honest, well-intentioned people, but sadly that isn’t the case for everybody.

You never know these days. There are psychopaths out there who love to do harm to innocent people just to satisfy their sick personal desires. It’s horrific to think about, but unfortunately that’s the reality of our world today. I wonder if FBBs think about this when they exchange e-mails with potential clients. Obviously, they can trust the people they’ve seen before. But what about new people from cities they aren’t familiar with? Can you really trust that the happy-go-lucky person you “talk” to over the Internet is as sweet and harmless as they appear? The truth is, nothing can be safely assumed.

That’s one of the unfortunate realities session providers have to deal with. As mentioned before, the risk factor of facing an accident is also ever present. Injuries happen for a myriad of reasons. You can even hurt yourself at the gym while working out (raise your hand if that’s ever happened to you!). Anything is possible. Session providers who offer wrestling put themselves in harm’s way. It’s not inconceivable for a 250-pound man to inadvertently injure a 180-pound female wrestler during the heat of the moment. Even if the large man got carried away and meant nothing malicious about it, accidents do happen. They’re unavoidable. That’s a fact of life.

An injury can sideline you for days, weeks, months, and perhaps (if it’s serious enough) years. If you are unable to work for several months, how will you make money? How can you continue to lift at the gym and maintain your muscular figure when you’re bedridden for months at a time? Muscle atrophy will eventually kick in. She’ll start to lose her size. After she recovers, she’ll need to build her body back up to where it was before the injury. And that takes time and effort. Think about the lost income that results from that. FBBs who hurt themselves for work-related reasons cannot rely on worker’s compensation insurance to support them during their recovery period. Ouch.

The Asian Muscle Goddess Michelle Jin.
The Asian Muscle Goddess Michelle Jin.

Injury is one valid concern. So is the prospect of a crazy kook wanting to do something harmful to you. Another one is this: The psychological toll of being a female bodybuilder and session provider.

I’ve talked at length about the sexism faced by FBBs. That’s a major issue. But another one is a problem that I’m guessing both male and female bodybuilders face: The pressure to be perfect. In essence, this is what being a bodybuilder – whether you compete professionally or not – is all about. It’s about the continuous journey toward attaining aesthetic perfection. It’s nonstop. There is no end in sight. A bodybuilder can never be satisfied with where they’re at physically. The moment you think you’ve arrived at your “goal,” what is there left to strive toward? Will complacency kick in?

Due to this line of thinking, many FBBs are stuck in a never-ending cycle of insecurity. Women as a whole are definitely stuck in this maddening hamster wheel of self-esteem issues, but FBBs in particular are right in the thick of it. Without a perfectly chiseled body, where would they be? In order for them to be able to do what they love doing, they have to look a certain way. Like professional models, their looks define their livelihood. It’s a brutal world to live in.

I’ve read interviews with Rene Campbell where she talks about being a “bigorexic.” She defines this as being constantly insecure about being small. Anyone who’s ever seen Rene Campbell would know she is the complete opposite of small. She’s huge! She has eye-popping muscles that are as large as you’ll ever see on a woman. She’s a very big lady. But deep down inside, she still thinks of herself as dainty, frail, and weak. Call if “Fat Kid Syndrome.” Kids who grew up overweight still think of themselves like that even when they reach adulthood and are no longer medically overweight. It’s a mental block in your brain that doesn’t ever completely vanish.

Rene’s insecurities about her size is just part of this spiteful equation. Session providers also face other pressures. In addition to maintaining their impressive level of muscle mass, they also have to do whatever they can to look “traditionally” beautiful. Many choose to get breast augmentation surgery in order to look more “feminine.” I’m sure Botox injections and faithful usage of anti-wrinkle cream are also par for the course. There are plenty of clients who do not want to see an FBB who looks “too old.” But age is an inevitability. No amount of medical procedures or cosmetic products will completely turn back the clock.

Rita Sargo werking so hard.
Rita Sargo werking so hard.

The vast majority of FBBs I’ve met for muscle worship sessions have been older women. Most were probably older than 40. The youngest was probably in her mid to late 30s. I know for a fact – though I never asked! – a few I’ve met were older than 50. But that doesn’t matter to me. They were all beautiful women. I mean, stunningly beautiful. Yes, they had wrinkles on their face. Yes, they had crow’s feet around their eyes. But they were still absolutely gorgeous.

I think many of these strong female bodybuilders are way more beautiful than “normally built” women half their age. But that’s just me. I’ll bet if you were to meet them up-close-and-personal too, you’d feel the same way.

However, not all guys are think that way. I’m not suggesting I have an “older woman fetish,” but age doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it does other people. You can cover up your age when doing photoshoots, video shoots, and other multimedia projects. Adobe Photoshop is a hell of a software program. Clever lighting can do wonders. There are tricks of the trade to make a 40-year-old woman look like she’s 30. But when you meet her for an intimate muscle worship session, you see her for who she is. Some guys are turned off by this. Others don’t mind it. But regardless, an FBB can’t please everybody. Nor can she stay young forever.

Once again, it’s a brutally unforgiving world we live in.

The idea that people in certain professions have a “shelf-life” is pretty dehumanizing. But it is what it is. I’m not here to lead any kind of social revolution. It’s unnerving that models, athletes, and entertainers (one could put a female bodybuilder in all three categories) have an “expiration date” set by the powers-that-be in their respective industries. But that’s how the system works. The moment you get too old, too fat, too slow, and not as lucrative as you used to be, you get tossed to the scrap heap. There will always be newer and younger people to replace you.

Can’t hit 40 home runs anymore? Don’t draw the sold-out crowds like you used to? Can’t sell perfume like you did 15 years ago? Here’s the door. See you on the other side. Have a good day. Oof. Brutal.

The revolving door will continue to cycle people in and out. That’s why you have to earn every single penny you possibly can while you can. Cut-throat? You better believe it.

Imagine this scenario: You’re a 50-year-old female bodybuilder who is also a mother of three high school children. All three of your kids are considering going to college. You may or may not be married to the father of your children. Money is tight. College tuition continues to rise year after year. You used to compete professionally, but don’t anymore because the winnings weren’t consistent or large enough. You’re still physically beautiful, but you’re also a 50-year-old woman and there’s no denying that. Your name recognition remains strong, but that is by no means secure forever. You regularly travel the world providing muscle worship sessions. You’re always away from your family. You live out of a suitcase for months at a time. Travelling can be stressful. Setting up appointments with clients is equally stressful. You risk injury and physical harm every single time you meet a client. From the perspective of your children, in today’s social media age word can get out quickly that your mom gives out hand jobs to complete strangers in hotel rooms across the globe. That thought is constantly going through your mind. We also live in the Yelp Age where crowdsourced opinions on the web can make or break your reputation. One bad review or two floating around an Internet message board can harm your ability to earn money (even if those poor reviews are written fairly and objectively and without malice). It’s a savage world we live in. If you put yourself in this particular hypothetical female bodybuilder’s shoes, how would you go about your everyday business? What choices would you make?

You’d probably be a bit stressed out. How would you feel if you knew your body, personality, and reputation was being discussed by strangers on the web? Talk about an invasion of privacy. Talk about breaking down the walls of confidentiality with the hammer of Thor.

While the theoretical woman I’ve outlined above isn’t based on anybody in particular, women like her do exist. That story isn’t unique or completely made up out of thin air. There are women (and men too) out there who could probably identify with some of that. Please, think about this the next time you anonymously berate a session provider on a chat forum just because your $400 session wasn’t quite worth every single nickel and dime you paid her.

Jean Jitomir wearing a sexy black cocktail dress.
Jean Jitomir wearing a sexy black cocktail dress.

So when I say that muscle worship may be a more intimate activity than sex, I may not be too far off. Like I said before, context matters a great deal. I could write for days and days on how intimate sexual intercourse can be. But sex is, for the most part, an intimate act that you share with a limited number of people. You do offer your body to another person, but it’s (usually) kept private, low-key, and doesn’t involve your ability to pay your bills. Muscle worship can be dramatically different. As outlined previously, it’s not just your body you put on the line. You put your reputation, health, wellbeing, livelihood, and family on the line as well. That definitely puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

I’m not trying to make any definitive statements or be dogmatic about anything. I’m just trying to offer some perspective about what it’s like to walk this earth in the shoes of the muscular women we love so much. It’s ain’t easy, that’s for sure.

Intimacy isn’t just defined by what the activity entails. Sex can be intimate. Or it can be casual. Rather, it’s defined by what you put on the line. What do you risk? What is the price of success? Of failure? When your life’s passions are defined by your body, putting your body in a vulnerable position is the riskiest thing you can possibly do. While I wouldn’t go as far as to call this bravery, it does require a level of fearlessness that very few people can match.

Female bodybuilders are strong women. Being able to deadlift 400 pounds or squat 500 pounds requires impressive strength. But being willing to put your body and soul on the line in the name of doing what you love requires a level of strength that is beyond comparison.

Sex Sells! Especially if You’re an Entrepreneurial Female Bodybuilder

Ready to get your beach body back? Timea Majorova would make the perfect poster child!
Ready to get your beach body back? Timea Majorova would make the perfect poster child!

Clichés become clichés because they’re based on, for the most part, a certain degree of observable truth. They may not be true in the purest sense, but conventional wisdom has a funny way of speaking to reality more often than not.

No matter how sick and tired we get of hearing tired adages like “the early bird gets the worm” or “birds of a feather flock together,” we keep seeing them used over and over again because…well, they’re true. Maybe not true 100 percent of the time, but enough times that we don’t retire them to Cliché Heaven.

Here’s another one. “Sex sells.” Does it? Does sex actually sell? You bet your horny ass it does.

Why? Simple explanation: No matter how old we get, how mature we think we become, or how pious we try to act, the erotic will always catch our attention. Always. Especially if it hits right in your wheelhouse. Sex does indeed sell. And in a world that’s dictated by the health and vitality of the free markets, you can bet with both hands that sex will continue to sell as long as it remains a reliable source of profit.

Every Victoria’s Secret magazine spread, shampoo commercial or Abercrombie & Fitch mall banner preys upon this very philosophy. Sex sells anything from TV subscriptions to hair brushes. In fact, it’s so pervasive in our society that we don’t always notice it. I’d go even further and say that it’s so saturated in our culture that sometimes sex doesn’t sell because we’ve become so accustomed to it. If it ceases to titillate us, we might ignore it. So this is why every advertising agency has to keep on pushing the boundaries of good taste as the years go on. When a beautiful girl in a cute dress can be overshadowed by a sexy woman in a g-string bikini, you know it’s only a matter of time when all-out nudity will be considered acceptable in the public sphere.

Female bodybuilders know this reality all too well. As I’ve discussed before, the lifestyle of being a bodybuilder can be quite costly. The monetary rewards that come with competing can be few and far between. Only the elite level athletes are able to make a substantial income from the sport alone. Few others are selected to endorse products that can help generate additional revenue. So many FBBs are stuck having to ride the gravy train of our favorite cliché. Sex sells.

Hop on while you can. All aboard! Next stop, Hornyville, USA!

So how do FBBs sell their sexuality? There are many ways. Sexy workout videos are one way. Sexy photoshoots are another. Also, sexy websites and social media posts can keep fans enthralled. Live webcam shows, specialty content for “members only” and sexy merchandise are par for the course. Then you can go deeper and add sensual sessions to the mix. Whether an FBB offers BDSM services or muscle worship sessions, a slew of appointments from eager fans can add up pretty quickly to a lot of dough. If that doesn’t seem like enough, there’s the good old fashioned “adult entertainment” industry. Don’t tell me you’ve never been curious to explore what that’s all about!

An elegant Jay Fuchs.
An elegant Jay Fuchs.

There are probably other ways that FBBs take advantage of the free market, but what I mentioned above pretty much covers most of it.

However, there are a lot of people who are uncomfortable by all this. They might not necessarily say it out loud, but for many folks the idea of a female bodybuilder using her sexuality for financial gain is disconcerting. There are many reasons for this, so let’s dive right into it.

First, the most prominent argument is that taking advantage of one’s sexuality demeans the sport and one’s peers within the sport, male or female. Female athletes across all sports already are gratuitously sexualized, so this only adds additional fuel to the fire. This makes a lot of sense. In many ways, a female bodybuilder doesn’t just act on her own behalf. She also acts – although not intentionally – on behalf of every single female bodybuilder in existence. It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is.

Understandably, male and female bodybuilders alike struggle to fit into the mainstream of global competitive sports. Today, bodybuilding seems more like a fringe subculture than a universally recognized sporting industry. How many people can identify Peyton Manning if he were to walk down a crowded street? Since he’s just won his second Super Bowl, I’d imagine quite a lot. On the other hand, how many people could identify by name Phil Heath? He’d definitely stand out for being such a large human being, but we can all agree he doesn’t have nearly the face or name recognition as Mr. Manning, LeBron James, Steph Curry or Serena Williams.

This isn’t meant to insult Mr. Heath or anybody else in the bodybuilding world. This is meant to point out a simple fact that the sport isn’t mainstream. Not by a long shot. So how do you make it more mainstream? Quite simply, it has to resemble other mainstream sports. Unfortunately, when a female bodybuilder is seen using her sexuality to make a living, in the minds of the general public this starts to make the sport look more like a muscle beauty contest than the U.S. Open. It’s understandable why so many male and female bodybuilders are uncomfortable by the marriage of their sport with overt sexual expression.

It’s easy to see why a pro bodybuilder would be offended by women who choose to also work in the session business and adult entertainment industry. No one wants their profession viewed by the public with subtle associations of prostitution and pornography. Please keep in mind that I’m not calling FBBs who do sessions “prostitutes.” I am not making that distinction. What I am saying is that this association is not outside the realm of comprehension. The human brain is a funny thing. If a dog quacks like a duck, we may subconsciously think it’s a duck, even though our eyes tell us a different story. FBBs who choose to do sessions and pornographic films are still athletes, even though our brains may tell us they’re sex workers instead. And whatever negative stereotypes we hold against sex workers will unfairly be thrust upon these women whether we acknowledge it or not.

The future of the sport, Danielle Reardon.
The future of the sport, Danielle Reardon.

Second, using sexuality to make a viable income is seen not just as demeaning to the sport, but also demeaning to the individual. The “sex sells” mantra is so well-known that it’s become an easy way to make a quick buck. What can a Hollywood producer do to make sure his upcoming summer blockbuster makes even more money? Easy! Give the female lead a topless scene. How can a TV producer ensure her pilot sitcom will garner substantial ratings? Simple! Create a promo where one of the female characters comes out wearing a bikini. How can a CEO sell more sticks of deodorant? Ah ha! Shoot a commercial where a slovenly slacker dude buys the product, uses it and within seconds finds himself surrounded by hordes of young beautiful sorority co-eds. That’ll have the deodorant flying off the shelves!

“Sex sells,” therefore, feels like you’re selling out. It appears like you cannot sell your product on its own merits, thus you have to “sex” it up in order to grab people’s attention. I can see why this rubs people the wrong way whenever they see a female bodybuilder using her sexuality for financial gain. Why can’t a female athlete just be an athlete, not a “sexy female athlete?”

This is a valid concern. All too often female athletes of every sport are forced (either directly or indirectly) to sexualize their image in order to substantiate their bank accounts. We all know the vast majority of women athletes aren’t super rich like many of their male counterparts, so any extra income they can legitimately earn must be pursued.

Third, the “sex sells” mantra perhaps also demeans the rest of us. Are we such sex-crazed horny animals that we won’t buy a tube of toothpaste unless a beautiful woman is shown brushing her pearly whites with them? Are we so dimwitted that a girl in a bikini must be the determining factor in helping us decide which car we want to purchase? I mean, cars are pretty expensive. Some have better gas mileage than others. Others last longer. But if I see an ad with a blonde bimbo plastered all over it, by golly I’m going to spend a quarter of my yearly income on that!

Check out the beautiful smile of Roberta Toth!
Check out the beautiful smile of Roberta Toth!

Well, as silly as all this sounds, there might be an element of truth to it. I don’t think we’re incapable of controlling our sexual urges, but maybe I have a more optimistic viewpoint of human behavior than I should. But hopefully you get where I’m coming from. I tend to also get peeved when I see marketing ploys that shamelessly exploit sexuality in a completely unnecessary manner. Did they really have to go there? I guess they must think we’re all idiots. Perhaps we are…

To be fair, I don’t think advertising moguls actually think we’re all horned up bunny rabbits. I think the overuse of the “sex sells” philosophy reflects a lack of creativity and laziness rather than a low opinion of society. But I could be wrong.

So I can see why a lot of us instinctively react negatively when we see female bodybuilders utilizing their sex appeal for personal gain. We can be protective creatures. We want to maintain a righteous sense of dignity toward the institutions we respect, whether we’re talking about the bodybuilding industry, the world of female sports or the human race. I’m not here to criticize anyone’s personal moral or ethical sensibilities. Everyone comes from a different path in life. However, I do believe it is imperative that we look at the world through somebody else’s eyes for once. If you’re a dedicated and passionate female bodybuilder who exists in a male-dominated sport that’s increasingly marginalizing competitors like you, well, I don’t blame you for doing whatever you can to make a living. I’m not a female bodybuilder, so I don’t know what “the struggle” is like.

But I do possess a basic understanding of economics. Sometimes, “sex sells” makes perfect business sense. I don’t have fancy pie charts or Excel spreadsheets to back me up, but if your current business model isn’t producing adequate streams of revenue, keeping on hammering away at the status quo would be financial suicide. A willingness to adapt to new market conditions is vital for survival. We may not like it (at first, or ever), but you can’t argue with bankruptcy.

In many respects, female bodybuilders have to think of themselves less as athletes and more as entrepreneurs. I will explore this topic in future blog posts, so I won’t get too deep into this right now. For now, let’s just say it appears to be the wave of the future. It’s perfectly understandable why the marriage between bodybuilding and sexuality makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Your personal values notwithstanding, it could come across like a desperate last attempt to revive a dying industry.

The “sex sells” business model, however, doesn’t have to appear like a Hail Mary pass to the end zone to save the season. Could we see it instead as an alternative form of the sport? Or not part of the sport at all? There are a lot of female bodybuilders who refuse to market themselves as sex objects. I respect that. They have every right to portray themselves in any light they choose. However, so do the women who willingly (and proudly) showcase their sex appeal for adoring fans. Why all the judgment? Why do we have to fight each other?

One of the undeniable superstars of the sport today, Tina Chandler.
One of the undeniable superstars of the sport today, Tina Chandler.

If we can’t agree to disagree, then perhaps in the interim we can do our best to make a clear distinction between the sport of female bodybuilding and the independent business ventures of individual female bodybuilders – whether these women officially compete or not. Many FBBs compete sparingly. Some not at all. Regardless, they’re allowed to develop their personal brands in any way they choose. I’m a full supporter of self-empowerment.

The entertainment/media industry can be a harsh one. There’s no questioning that. Sports fall under this category, and we know for sure it can be an unforgiving world. Rarely do professional athletes live perfect storybook lives. The industry can chew up the best of us and spit us out at a moment’s notice without pomp or circumstance. Whatever you got to do to survive is sometimes the only path you can choose. If you have to choose between abandoning the profession you love or violating your principles every now and then, do you really wish ill on anyone who chooses the latter?

“Sex sells” is an undeniable truth. However, is it truthful because that’s the way it is, or because we allow it to be true? I cannot answer that fully, but I can see what’s right in front of my eyes. There are plenty of beautiful and intelligent female bodybuilders who happily make a living doing what they do thanks to their irresistible sex appeal. If they receive professional fulfillment and joy showing off their gorgeous bodies to adoring fans, I have absolutely no quarrel with that.