What defines the perfect female body?
It’s a more difficult question to answer than you’d think. For those of us who are attracted to women, we just know beauty when we see it. We can’t describe it. We can’t explain it. We can’t quantify it. We just know what a beautiful female body looks like whenever we are fortunate enough to come across one.
If you took a poll of hundreds of straight men (and perhaps some lesbian women) to describe the “perfect female form,” the answers you’d get would probably be pretty predictable:
Long, smooth legs.
Yadda, yadda, yadda. Certain adjectives may change, but the general idea stays the same. Our collective definition of the perfect female form is for the most part fairly uniform.
But for fans of female bodybuilders, our personal definition of perfection is significantly different. We prefer not sleek arms, but bulging arms. We love long legs, but we’d rather gaze upon veiny thighs the size of tree trunks. We love calves big enough to crush a watermelon. We love breasts just like any other guy, but we’re perfectly willing to sacrifice noticeable cleavage if it means her broad pecs are allowed to shine boldly.
Everyone has a different definition of “perfect.” The results from this imaginary poll may be varied, but odds are they will share in common the aesthetic we’ve come to accept in today’s world: a perfect combination of slenderness with curves.
Call it the “Marilyn Monroe Look.” Or what Cindy Crawford was back in the 1990s. Or Kim Kardashian today. Famous sex icons come and go, but beauty is more or less timeless. True, historians will point out that light skin was considered beautiful back in the Middle Ages because it demonstrated wealth and prestige. People with tan skin were considered poor because they had to labor outdoors all day long, as opposed to their pale skinned peers who had servants do their dirty work instead. Today, almost the exact opposite is in vogue. Tanned skin communicates healthiness, vitality and trendiness. There’s a reason why tanning salons are so darn popular. Tanning practically seems like a full-time job for some people these days. Giving people tans definitely is, that’s for sure.
A vast majority of us would consider the women you see on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit magazines or featured in Victoria’s Secret ads to be the peak of female beauty. The names and faces may change over time, but atypical-looking women usually don’t find themselves so widely plastered across such media. Caitlyn Jenner being a unique exception, what most of us consider “beautiful” can typically be widely agreed upon.
So this begs the question: If beauty is, by and large, relatively universal, can the same go for perfection? Is the “perfect female form” something we can widely recognize? Or do differences of opinion make this conversation moot?
The best way to answer this question is to pose yet another question: What specifically defines “perfect?” In baseball parlance, a “perfect game” is when a starting pitcher retires all 27 batters in a row without giving up a single hit, walk, hit-batter or error. No one reaches first base in a nine inning ballgame under any circumstances whatsoever. Even if an error is committed by a defensive player, which is obviously not the fault of the pitcher, the perfect game is undone. If the center fielder accidentally drops a can-of-corn pop fly, the perfect game ends, even if 99.999999 percent of the time he makes that catch.
So, in baseball, “perfect” isn’t a passive state of being; it’s an accomplishment. Something isn’t perfect simply by being deemed perfect. Perfection isn’t passive. It’s active. It requires work. It requires meticulous labor to reach a goal. Leonardo da Vinci’s “La Joconde” (better known as the “Mona Lisa”) didn’t happen by accident. He didn’t just splatter paint onto a canvas Jackson Pollock-style and call it good. Rather, he put much thought into his process and painstakingly worked to render his creation. That’s why art critics call it a “masterpiece.” That’s also why these same critics cringe at what is known today as “modern art.” While it could be bold and expressive, a lot of the modern art you see hung up at respectable museums don’t appear to be that artistic. I’m no art connoisseur myself, but I can certainly see the difference between a Rembrandt and a dried up piece of animal dung meant to represent the existential nihilism derived from our excessive militaristic oppressive capitalistic Euro-American-centric hetero-normative patriarchy.
What just happened? I don’t know.
The point is that perfection is an end goal, not just a mere label we place onto an object. The Impeccable Female Form is perhaps not just an opinion, but a commentary on the state of femaleness, cultural aesthetic and male/female dichotomy. For example, Michelangelo’s sculpture of David is considered a Renaissance masterpiece. Created in the early 16th century, the marble male nude of the Biblical hero David represents the height of human power. In the Old Testament, David was a hero who defeated his enemies with help from the Almighty. David is The Man if there ever was anyone who deserved that nickname.
The sculpture, at the time, symbolized the zenith of the human form. Standing tall and proud, David’s muscular stature and overwhelming confidence should instill fear into his enemies. Not even the mighty Goliath stood a chance against our celebrated hero. Meant to signify the fierce independence of the Republic of Florence, between 1501 and 1504 Michelangelo crafted his legendary masterwork with the political implications of power, authority and the almost God-like importance of one man on Earth, in mind.
In David, we’re supposed to see exactly that. A man with God-like implications here on Earth. Thus, in a very literal sense, David perhaps was supposed to represent the Impeccable Human Form. In a world dominated by men, “human” became synonymous with “male.” Female beauty was almost kept in a separate category. Male beauty was human beauty. If humans were created in the image of God, it make sense a perfect looking human would be the closest we can ever get to actually witnessing God up-close-and-personal.
The perfect human form, therefore, now has the element of the divine attached to it. If men are gods, are women goddesses?
The answer is unequivocally “yes.” Women are indeed goddesses. A perfect female form would in fact be a close reflection of divinity, just as male perfection was once considered. Zeus may be wholly powerful among all gods, but Athena shouldn’t be disrespected in her own right. The ancient Greeks believed the gods in the heavens shaped the affairs of the men and women below. They even personified their gods into the images of men and women. How interesting.
This is a long way of getting to the point that should be obvious to us all: the Impeccable Female Form should reflect the same strength, gracefulness, power and beauty we’ve come to appreciate in today’s female bodybuilders. Alas, our much beloved muscle bunnies aren’t just athletes. They’re symbols of human perfection. And they didn’t get that way by accident or privilege. They earned it with their sweat, dedication, hard work and treasure.
Like a pitcher tossing a perfect game or a bowler rolling a perfect game, they had to earn their stripes. David, likewise, wasn’t deified (as much as a mortal man can be) arbitrarily. He had to go out and defeat Goliath. Then he had to rise through the ranks and become King of Judah. Whether you’re religious or not is not the point here. The point is that perfection is never granted passively. You have to earn it every step of the way.
This explains why many women (and men) resort to plastic surgery, fad diets and unauthorized medication (which may or may not be effective) to achieve the “perfect look.” Most of us are not born flawlessly beautiful. Most of us look at Monica Bellucci on the silver screen and think to ourselves; “I’ll never look that beautiful because she was born that way.”
Indeed, beauty is genetic. There’s no escaping that fact. No amount of makeup or trips to the surgeon’s office will undo what Mother Nature (a.k.a., your family’s gene pool) gave you. However, we’re not necessarily talking about facial beauty. We’re talking about the human form, which is what your silhouette looks like. We’re referring to not what you look like in a mirror, but what you look like behind a white screen and bright light.
You can, to a point, control what your silhouette looks like. Female bodybuilders are doing that every single day of their lives. What they choose to eat, when they choose to eat, when and how they lift weights, when they sleep, what supplements they take…all of these choices are carefully made to ensure their bodies can look a certain way. Crafting a perfect combination of muscularity, symmetry and femininity, FBBs are truly artists in every sense of the word. Just as our friend Michelangelo sculpted with marble, FBBs work with their own flesh and blood. Sounds pretty hardcore, doesn’t it?
If we assume female bodybuilders to be artists, are they not working toward the goal of attaining perfection? Even world champion bodybuilders should never rest on their laurels and assume they’ve “arrived.” That sort of complacency breeds mediocrity. The mindset of a champion dictates that you constantly work toward self-improvement, regardless of what people say or how tangibly “good” you already are at your sport. In this respect, female bodybuilders (and their male counterparts) are indeed artists, striving toward sculpting their perfect masterpiece with the materials given to them by God. As Amedeo Modigliani used a paintbrush and palette as his tools, a bodybuilder uses dumbbells, barbells, and food as theirs.
So it makes perfect sense for the Impeccable Female Form to come from a bodybuilder. After all, they “earn” their physique through hard work, dedication, scientific precision and sacrifice. No one wants “perfection” to be a product of passive entitlement. A slender looking woman may in fact be beautiful, but isn’t there something to be said for a physique that’s very darn difficult to attain? Looking like Alina Popa is a challenge that only an elite number of women will ever be able to achieve. Her flawless balance between being highly muscular and unquestionably feminine makes her as unique of an athlete as there’s ever been. And that is no exaggeration.
This is not to disrespect or discount the challenges of maintaining a “traditional” feminine look. The point of this blog post isn’t to shame or condemn any particular body type. Instead, I’m trying to illustrate a larger point: the ideal female form – or perhaps, better yet, the quintessential female form – should lean more toward the muscular than the skinny. Bulky rather than thin. Bigger instead of smaller. You get the idea.
The simple argument that the Impeccable Female Form should be that of a bodybuilder implies that strength should be a crucial facet to femininity. Ignore any of that talk about the “weaker sex.” That’s complete and total nonsense. If we genuinely want to lift up women as being strong, independent beings, this paradigm shift is a welcomed first step. Aesthetically speaking, if the Impeccable Female Form is defined as being muscular, curvy and strong – does this not communicate empowerment more than mere words? Words are cheap. Action is not.
Besides making an obvious feminist statement, a Muscular Feminine Ideal does more to break down negative stereotypes than anything else. For as much as our society preaches the importance of “female empowerment,” how seriously do we accept this? Do we truly mean that, or are we more interested in patting ourselves on the back and verbalizing what we want instead of actually pursuing what we want to see change? I leave the answer to these questions to you.
Whether or not anyone will ever accept this frame of mind is not the point. Not everyone will agree that muscularity should have anything to do with how we define female beauty. Nor should we all agree to this. But as female muscle fans, we share the inherent belief that there’s a reason why we love strong women beyond simple lust. I believe that wholeheartedly. We may not explicitly know it, but we know female bodybuilders represent something bigger. A female bodybuilder isn’t just a competitive athlete; no different than a soccer player, basketball player or tennis player. We know they belong in a separate category apart from the rest. Am I right?
Indeed, there is something noteworthy going on. Bodybuilders, both male and female, symbolize the highest form of human achievement. They represent the human being at its pinnacle of perfection. There’s a reason why Michelangelo chose to portray David as a strong warrior instead of a skinny average Joe. Wonder Woman may not traditionally be illustrated as being muscular, but you definitely can tell the artists who draw her would definitely do that if they were given more lenient creative license. That might not help them sell more comic books per se, but they would be making a pretty bold statement in doing so.
Deep down inside, female muscle fans wish more women in society looked like Larissa Reis or Shannon Courtney. Not necessarily out of selfish fetishistic reasons (although that is a major part of it), but because we truly believe society would be better for it. The Impeccable Female (and Male) Form isn’t just about determining what kind of eye candy we like best. It’s more than that. It’s about maximizing what it means to be a human being, a creation of God (or whatever higher power you believe in). If we assume the Imago Dei theological concept to be ingrained into Western culture, we take on the belief that bodybuilders of all genders are doing what they can to become Divine.
Not in a literal sense, but in a figurative sense. A muscular man or woman isn’t actually a god, but they’re the closest we can get here on Earth.
So, what exactly defines the perfect female body? Divine. Intentional. Elite. Strong. Powerful. Potent. Authoritative. Commanding. Muscular. All of these things.
Regardless of your ideological or theological background, every single female muscle fan knows the women they love are bigger – and not just literally – than most of the people we encounter day-in and day-out. They represent something tangibly deific. We don’t refer to them as “goddesses” for no good reason.
Oh yeah. Goddess. I do seem to recall that label being put onto a female bodybuilder at least once or twice. Now we all know why that is. We view them as belonging to a higher status than the rest of us. They’re gods among men, or goddesses among women. We intrinsically know this to be true.
The Impeccable Female Form explains all of this. Muscles are a form of physical Nirvana that every one of us is striving to achieve. Maybe not in any practical sense, but we feel it intuitively. I’ve never considered my love for female muscle to have a spiritual component, but the more I think about it, perhaps it does.
Maybe we female muscle fans are helping usher in a new age of Enlightenment. Are we the forbearers of a shift toward a higher level of Consciousness?
Uh, yeah. Probably not. But it sure is fun to think about. This is probably overthinking things, but life is too short to shortchange yourself. Don’t be afraid to take pride in your female muscle fandom. You may not be a modern day culture warrior, but you are definitely on the right track. Muscular women are beautiful, and our world would be a better place if every man, woman and child felt that way.
Can I get an “amen?”