The Wow Factor

Before Lindsay Mulinazzi, there was nothing.
Before Lindsay Mulinazzi, there was nothing.

I’ve finally figured it out. In all my years of my female muscle fandom, I’ve never really been able to put into succinct words why I love muscular women so much.

Sure, long essays can explain the bread and butter of why I find female bodybuilders and athletes so appealing. I can even post a ton of photos of my favorite FBBs for all of you to salivate over. But that still doesn’t even begin to describe why exactly we love them.

But now I’ve got it figured out. Finally.

Simply put:

The Wow Factor.

That’s it. The Wow Factor. “Wow” is a word we use to describe something so amazing, Earth-shattering, incredible and astonishing that no other monosyllabic utterance could do it justice. Wow. You could substitute that for “whoa,” but let’s not confuse our female muscle fandom for the vernacular of California surfer dudes or college stoner kids. I’m talking about something else here.

Wow. Just…wow.

The Wow Factor is my best way of describing it.

Women like Debi Laszewski are so damn beautiful that “wow” is the only way I can properly react when I see a photo of her. Yes, “Damn girl” or “Daaaaaaaaaaaaaamn” are also sufficient substitutes, but I’m not interested in catcalling Ms. Laszewski like a dirty-minded construction worker on his lunch break.

I’m interested in communicating what’s on my mind. And “wow” is the only thing on my mind. Is there any other way to put it?

How can this image of Victoria Dominguez lifting this heavy weight not turn you on?
How can this image of Victoria Dominguez lifting this heavy weight not turn you on?

But it’s not just about putting your feelings into words. It’s describing your gut reaction the moment your brain processes what your eyes have just seen. The millisecond your mind realizes that it just saw an image of a strong, gorgeous woman showing off her hard work in all its erotic glory – you can’t possibly articulate what that feels like. No way. It’s a feeling that hits you on a level that goes way beyond mere “attraction.”

It’s not just lust. It’s not just turning your head when you see a pretty woman walking past you and thinking to yourself, “That’s one fine looking lady.” That happens all the time (at least, it happens to me all the time!). The Wow Factor goes way further. The Wow Factor isn’t an everyday occurrence. The Wow Factor changes the way you think. It changes the way you look at women (all women, not just those of the muscular variety). It changes the way you behave. It changes your paradigm.

This Wow Factor explains why bloggers like me continue to post pictures and essays about female muscle nonstop. This explains why guys like me are willing to pay $350 for an hour-long muscle worship session with a complete stranger in a hotel room. This explains why we can’t get enough of those glorious FBBs and their immaculate beauty.

The Wow Factor is a visceral gut reaction you can’t control. Here’s an anecdote for you. As strange as it sounds, sometimes I occasionally forget why I love female muscle in the first place. It’s sort of like a professional baseball player who’s played for 10 years in the league but lacks passion because he plays for a terrible team. But the moment his team catches fire and he’s playing in Game 7 of the World Series, suddenly his childhood love for the game returns and he’s playing with rejuvenated energy.

He suddenly remembers why he loves the game. The nervous energy. The thrill of competition. The joy of victory. The heart-wrenching depression of defeat. That child-like love for the game all of a sudden returns in that moment when you’re actually playing for something.

A rising star, Jill Rudison.
A rising star, Jill Rudison.

I sometimes get like that in regards to my female muscle fandom. I know I love strong women, but all it takes is a singular image of Alina Popa flexing her large, beautiful biceps wearing nothing but a microscopic thong bikini, and…I suddenly remember why I think Ms. Popa is a gift from God. I’ve always known that, but The Wow Factor hits me like a semi-truck blindsiding me out of nowhere and I’m instantaneously reminded why I feel the way I feel.

It’s a feeling that causes you to stare at your computer screen with your jaw dropped to the floor and your heart ceasing to beat. It makes me forget that other women exist in this world.

Lisa Cross. Denise Masino. Lindsay Mulinazzi. Angela Salvagno. Victoria Dominguez. Nikki Fuller. Yvette Bova. Amber DeLuca. Autumn Raby. Gayle Moher. Lauren Powers. Annie Rivieccio. Brandi Mae Akers. Jill Rudison. Shannon Courtney. Desiree Ellis. Jana Linke-Sippl. Lora Ottenad. Brenda Raganot. Monica Martin. Gracyanne Barbosa. Juliana Malacarne. Karen Zaremba. Michele Levesque. Sheila Bleck. Monica Brant. Lisa Marie Bickels. Lenda Murray. Iris Kyle. Julie Bourassa. Kris Murrell. Sondra Faas. Vilma Caez. Kris Clark. Melissa Dettwiller.

The list goes on and on and on. This doesn’t even scratch the surface.

Pick anyone on this list and spend five minutes doing a Google Images search on her. I guarantee you’ll be hooked within seconds. You’ll be completely enraptured by her power, beauty and strength. Her feminine prowess and physical stature will make you as hapless as a little puppy dog. You’ll totally forget why you used to ogle at the rail-thin supermodels in the Sears catalog (if you actually at one time did that, I’m really sorry!).

The Wow Factor exemplified in Larissa Reis.
The Wow Factor exemplified in Larissa Reis.

This is what it’s like to experience The Wow Factor. You’re struck by a lightning bolt and feel like there is no definition of “beauty” other than what you’ve just witnessed.

Before Lindsay Mulinazzi, there was nothing.

Sometimes I wonder if this is the reason why there’s so much animosity against female bodybuilders. Haters (who are, pardon the expression, going to hate) have never experienced The Wow Factor. They’ve instead experienced The Ew Factor. The Gross Factor. The Utterly Disgusting Factor. The Why-the-Hell-Would-Anyone-Want-To-Look-Like-That Factor. It saddens me when people choose to shut themselves out from a certain part of life. True, no one has an obligation to like female muscle, but why say “no!” when instead you can choose “sure, why not?”

It’s clear to me that someone who says they’re repulsed by female bodybuilders say that mostly because deep down inside they’re insecure about themselves. They don’t feel secure in their masculinity. They don’t feel secure in their femininity. They react negatively to what they don’t understand or want to understand. They insult others because the only way for them to feel good about themselves is to bring down everyone else. This is a vicious cycle that especially comes out on the Internet. Anonymity brings out the worst in us. There’s no harm in expressing your true feelings when nobody knows your name. Insecurity and a forum for acting upon that insecurity can be a hurtful combination.

One can never see enough photos of Karen Zaremba.
One can never see enough photos of Karen Zaremba.

It should be obvious to anyone who follows the sport of female bodybuilding that the industry is pushing our favorite ladies off to the side and telling them “we don’t want you as much as we did in the past.” People may have wanted to see you on the cover of magazines thirty years ago, but that’s all changed now. Iris Kyle will never be a sports superstar. No way. We don’t care how many Ms. Olympia titles she’s won. We don’t care how dominating she is in her sport. None of that is relevant. What speaks is dollars. And, quite frankly, she doesn’t bring in the dollars like others can. Sorry. You lose. Better luck next time.

Does this make you angry? To anyone who’s experienced The Wow Factor, it should.

Additionally, The Wow Factor affects you in one other way: It makes you defensive whenever you feel like your passions are being attacked. How many times have you been told that female bodybuilders look “gross?” How often do you read articles about the decline of female bodybuilding and you just want to throw your computer against the wall? Does replacing the sport with pole dancing competitions make you want to face-palm over and over again till your forehead turns beet red?

These reactions are classic examples of wanting to defend what you love. The Wow Factor makes us feel as though any attack on a strong woman is also an attack on us. Insult the sport of female bodybuilding on a public forum? Expect fans from across the world to fight back. Someone wants to deny Alina Popa’s right to climb the mountaintops and finally win the Ms. Olympia? In no time will you see her countless fans defending her on her behalf.

Gracyanne Barbosa. Baby got back.
Gracyanne Barbosa. Baby got back.

Though this negative energy can be seen as a bad thing, anything can be used for something positive. Being angry and defensive all the time will get you nowhere. A more constructive use of these emotions is to become pro-active. There are a lot of things we can do to make sure female bodybuilding doesn’t become extinct. Write letters. Send e-mails. Boycott those who vigorously marginalize the FBBs we idolize. Buy books and magazines promoting female muscle. Open your wallets and hearts to the women we adore. Openly support these athletes as if they truly are our best friends. Don’t let society dictate what you find beautiful. Do what you can to make these amazing athletes more mainstream.

What if one day female muscle becomes more mainstream? Imagine a world where gorgeous women like Larissa Reis are seen in the media as often as we see Kate Upton. Think about how awesome it would be if we can turn on the summer Olympics and instead of being perplexed by the presence of strong women, we can just sit back and enjoy watching her hard work being proudly displayed on the world’s brightest stage.

Instead of thinking to ourselves, “Ew!” we can have a more complimentary reaction:

“Wow.”

Top 10 Misconceptions About Having a Female Muscle Fetish

The fabulous Fabiola Boulanger.
The fabulous Fabiola Boulanger.

I’d like to think that one day it’ll become more acceptable to being attracted to muscular women. After all, I do sense a somewhat significant backlash against the “skinny is beautiful” aesthetic that we’ve all grown accustomed to seeing.

I’m also willing to bet the recent debate about healthcare will also spur some further dialogue about the health of our country and what it means to be healthy. Is starving yourself in order to achieve that rail thin look good for your body? The answer, of course, is a resounding NO.

Maybe someday we’ll actually see more muscular women in everyday society once we get past the irrational concept that women can’t lift weights in the gym like guys do. Face it: You all know what I’m talking about. Which demographic almost always dominates the weight room at your gym? Men. This isn’t even up for debate.

So, once we see more ladies pump iron in the weight room, perhaps this will lead more and more straight guys (and non-straight guys, to be fair) to openly admit that a women with muscle isn’t gross, but beautiful. Is it so strange to finally admit something that was once “taboo” the moment it becomes mainstream? I would hope not.

But seeing muscular women walk down the streets in droves is far from a reality and probably will never become commonplace (though one does hope and pray!) in my lifetime. Nevertheless, let’s delve into ten common misconceptions about having a female muscle fetish that we should clear up in anticipation of a complete social paradigm shift in how we define “sexy.”

I'd go to the gym more often if women like Ericca Kern were hanging around the weight room.
I’d go to the gym more often if women like Ericca Kern were hanging around the weight room.

1. Straight men who are attracted to muscular women are secretly gay.

There’s this belief out there that straight men who love a female with brawn is somehow living a lie. He’s not really straight, but instead a fabulously gay man ready to burst out of the closet with two chiseled female bodybuilders sitting on his shoulders.

If my understanding of sexuality is correct, gay men are attracted to OTHER MEN, not women. I’m heterosexual and have no desire to be intimate with a guy. I do, however, have many fantasies about being intimate with women like Gayle Moher, Tazzie Colomb, Ericca Kern and Angela Salvagno. I’m attracted to these women (and scores of others) because they’re beautiful women; regardless if their beauty is or is not commonly accepted among the general population.

That’s correct. They’re WOMEN who are BEAUTIFUL by standards that happen to be outside of the norm. My personal standards for female beauty are my own. I’m not saying you should agree with me, but you should accept this fixation of mine and move on with your life.

Sound good?

Great!

I could write a whole essay describing the beauty of Denise Masino. I just might...
I could write a whole essay describing the beauty of Denise Masino. I just might…

2. Having a female muscle fetish also means you’re into BDSM.

BDSM, for those of you who don’t know what this means, is an acronym for Bondage, Discipline (it could also be Domination) and Sadomasochism. In short, this means chains, whips, being tied up, tying up someone else, spanking, role playing, domination, submission, safe words, leather outfits, consensual pain, pleasure though pain, pleasure through risqué social relationships, pleasure through power, pleasure through the lack of power, paddles, rope, orgasm control, dungeons, anal plugs, kinky toys, blindfolds and a whole host of other elements.

You get the idea, right? Think “50 Shades of Grey,” if you’ve ever heard of that before.

Hell, at this point who hasn’t?

While many female bodybuilders often engage in BDSM activities outside of their bodybuilding careers (being a professional bodybuilder, unfortunately, isn’t a very lucrative business), there is no direct link between being having a female muscle fetish and being into the D/s subculture.

Please don’t get me wrong: I’m not judging those who are into that sort of thing. In fact, I believe that whatever you’re into is your own business and no one else’s. What happens between consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes is not for us to judge. So…I am not saying all of this because I want to distance myself from DBSM culture.

Rather, you can be attracted to an FBB and not want her to tie you up, spank you with a paddle and call you dirty names while she makes you do her bidding. Your lust for her can be very “vanilla,” just as if you had a crush on the girl next door.

Except this girl happens to have steel thighs, bulging biceps, wide pecs and rock hard abs!

But this all brings me to my next point…

Would I want Tina Lockwood's massive thighs around my neck? No, but don't knock it unless you've tried it, right?
Would I want Tina Lockwood’s massive thighs around my neck? No, but don’t knock it unless you’ve tried it, right?

3. A guy with a female muscle fetish wants a female bodybuilder to physically dominate him.

Nor is this a true statement. Speaking from my personal life, all my fantasies about being with a beautiful female bodybuilder has nothing to do with her physically dominating me.

I would love nothing more than to make love to a woman like Lisa Cross. She doesn’t have to wrestle me, sit on me, grapple me, pick me up, or pin me to the ground till I beg her to let me breathe. A simple evening with her involving candle light, a bottle of wine, fresh fruit and silky white bed sheets will suffice.

Seriously. That would be awesome.

While many guys who love female muscle are also into D/s role playing, I want to make a point that not every guy fantasizes about the same thing. Just as most regular people have a diverse range of sexual fantasies, so do guys who love ladies with muscles. We’re no different, no freakier than you are. We’re just into a different sort of woman.

Contrary to popular belief, I still find women like Kate Upton to be beautiful.
Contrary to popular belief, I still find women like Kate Upton to be beautiful.

4. A guy with a female muscle fetish isn’t attracted to “normal” looking women.

On the contrary, I find women of all types to be beautiful. When I was in high school, I had the biggest celebrity crush on Monica Bellucci, whom I thought was literally the most beautiful woman in the world.

Upon further review, there is little evidence to suggest that my assessment at the time was wrong. Even as a middle aged woman, Ms. Bellucci remains a supremely gorgeous creature. My high school-self had every rational reason to be enamored by this Italian Goddess.

Like most young men, I see beautiful women everywhere I look and frequently fantasize about being with them (guys think about sex every, what is it…seven seconds?). One young lady I particularly like at the moment is the polar opposite of a female bodybuilder: She’s small, petite and possesses absolutely no upper body strength. Kim Chizevsky could snap her like a twig if she wanted to. But I nevertheless find her supremely beautiful.

She has narrow hips, skinny legs, pale white skin and flat breasts. She’s half Asian but looks very much like she could be full. She’s smart, funny and shares a lot of the same interests as me. I’m very much in love with her, but unfortunately she doesn’t quite share the same mutual feelings (my confession of my love for her and her subsequent “friend-zoning” of me could make for a whole other blog post). Regardless, I think she’s one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met.

All this is to say that I’m also attracted to “normal” looking women. It’s not like guys who love muscular women find their less muscled counterparts to be repulsive. We don’t expect every woman to look like Lauren Powers or Lora Ottenad, so it’s unreasonable to assume if you don’t look like them, we don’t care. It’s not like that at all.

Having a female muscle fetish isn’t a one-track deal. It’s just one tool in the tool shed, so to speak. Of course women like Megan Fox and Kate Upton also catch our eye. But ladies like Deidre Pagnanelli and Monica Brant do as well. That’s all there is to it.

If being attracted to a woman like Gayle Moher means I'm unhealthy, then I'm one sick puppy!
If being attracted to a woman like Gayle Moher means I’m unhealthy, then I’m one sick puppy!

5. Having a female muscle fetish is a “condition” that’s unhealthy.

This is a misconception that especially gets me angry. I don’t know how common this belief is, but I do know that a small percentage of folks out there might think this.

Clinically speaking, the proper term is sthenolagnia, which means “sexual arousal from displaying strength or muscles.” This isn’t a condition. It’s just a kink. Of course, any interest that goes too far can be unhealthy. When a fetish becomes an obsession, you can be prone to adopting some very unhealthy behaviors.

Wasting money you can’t afford to spend to satisfy your kink. Alienating your friends and family. Breaking the law. Endangering your physical being and psyche. All of these things can be associated with a fetish gone too far.

But this definitely is not normal for people with a harmless and unusual fetish.

To be fair, I should say that the word “fetish” can be misleading. In some definitions, the word “fetish” implies that someone needs that particular object in order to get sexually aroused and cannot get aroused otherwise. In other words, if feet are your thing, nothing will turn you on except for feet and feet only.

This definition might be a bit extreme, but like I mentioned before, being attracted to muscular women doesn’t mean I can’t be attracted to non-muscular women. There are lots of non-FBBs who strike my fancy.

So there is nothing unhealthy about having a female muscle fetish. It doesn’t affect my personal or professional life. My relationships with my friends and family aren’t strained because of it. My relationship with women also isn’t suddenly off-the-wall because of this particular fandom. I’m perfectly normal. And many other guys who share my kink are as well.

Growing up, I considered Monica Bellucci to be the most beautiful woman on the planet. After looking at photos like this, I can see why.
Growing up, I considered Monica Bellucci to be the most beautiful woman on the planet. After looking at photos like this, I can see why.

6. A female muscle fetish is caused by unresolved childhood trauma.

Can my love for female bodybuilders be explained because of some unresolved childhood trauma? Was Mommy overbearing, despotic and cruel? Was Daddy weak, complacent and effeminate? Could this be the cause of my lust for strong women?

I’m no psychologist, but I’m guessing there’s absolutely no link between liking female muscle and having a troubled childhood. But it does seem rather tempting to make a Freudian connection between having a strong mother and gravitating toward strong women as an adult.

I’m willing to bet there’s some truth that someone who was spanked as a child (by mom, perhaps) might develop a fetish for being spanked as a grownup. But I have absolutely no empirical evidence to back me up.

Alas, I can only speak from personal experience that my attraction to female muscle is completely independent from my upbringing.

Then again, it’s hard to self-analyze, isn’t it?

Maybe I should see a shrink after all…

I don't think my attraction for Gina Davis will ever go away.
I don’t think my attraction for Gina Davis will ever go away.

7. A female muscle fetish is temporary and will eventually go away.

Sticking with this theme of a female muscle fetish being a “condition,” is it like the common cold and it will eventually go away with plenty of bed rest, cough drops and chicken soup?

I highly doubt it. This is not some sort of temporary fad that I’ll get into and eventually move on from as if it were a trend diet. The South Beach Diet, Atkin’s Diet and the recently chic Paleo Diet may come and go, but I don’t think the love for female muscle will ever go away.

If you browse chat forums that discuss muscle worship, wrestling sessions and the love for FBBs, many of these folks talk about loving female muscle for many years, sometimes dating back to childhood. It’s like a light going off: Everyone who loves muscular women can remember the exact moment they first discovered this love. Whether it was pursuing through a fitness magazine, catching a glimpse of a female bodybuilder on television or seeing a strong female character in a comic book, everyone with a female muscle fetish can share their personal testimony of “how it all started.”

This is why I very much doubt the belief that this kink will simply run its course after a new fetish is magically “discovered.”

Unfortunately, not all female bodybuilders are as beautiful as Monica Brant.
Unfortunately, not all female bodybuilders are as beautiful as Monica Brant.

8. Guys who are attracted to female bodybuilders are attracted to ALL female bodybuilders.

There are lots of FBBs whom I find attractive. Katka Kyptova, Victoria Dominguez, Tina Lockwood (who retired from bodybuilding a while back), Colette Guimond, Amber DeLuca and scores of others are some of the most beautiful women I’ve ever laid eyes on.

However, this doesn’t mean I find every female bodybuilder attractive.

I hate to say it and sound sexist, but there are some FBBs who do indeed look “gross.” Whether it’s because of veins sticking out of their skin, “masculine” faces caused by an imbalance of hormones, or some other reason, there are some FBBs in this world that don’t even come close to turning me on. While I wholeheartedly reject the notion that female bodybuilders are disgusting because women shouldn’t have muscles, unfortunately (and it hurts me to say this) this is somewhat true for a select few.

Whew. There you go. I said it. Not every muscular woman looks sexy and beautiful. I hope I don’t offend anybody out there!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as the old saying goes. Generally speaking, we all have our standards for what we find aesthetically pleasing in a human being. Some folks fit in those categories, and others simply do not. We should try our best not to be judgmental about these sorts of things, but that doesn’t change the fact that some women (and men!) are naturally more beautiful than others.

I have nothing against FBBs whom I don’t find pleasant to look at. They have every right to sculpt their bodies into whatever shape they want. I just don’t need to find it attractive, necessarily.

To each his own, eh?

Sandra Faas is beautiful, regardless of what others might think!
Sandra Faas is beautiful, regardless of what others might think!

9. A female muscle fetish is misogynist because we’re objectifying a muscular woman.

I’m no feminist scholar, but I’m sure some folks out there might object to us guys with the hots for strong ladies because we’re treating them like sex objects instead of human beings.

This is one misconception that might, unfortunately, have a certain degree of truth. I suppose it’s not a stretch to say that a guy who likes the muscles on a woman is similar to a guy who likes a woman with fake breasts, artificially tanned skin and excessive Botox treatments. We like what we see instead of who she is as a person.

If we lust after a woman because of her looks, does this make us sexist? This is a whole other discussion that I’m not too keen on getting into right now. But here is what I can say with a certain degree of certainty: Guys who like muscular women probably aren’t typically going to be the sexist, misogynist pigs you see on Mad Men.

I say this because I think the hatred of female bodybuilders is more fueled by sexism than the love for female bodybuilders. While objectification under any circumstances is unacceptable, I’m willing to bet if there is a group of straight men out there who is less likely to be against a woman demonstrating her independence and bodily freedom, it would be guys with a female muscle fetish.

Personally, I think it’s awesome there are women out there who could care less about what society says and choose to pursue bodybuilding regardless. I’m all for someone striving to be the best they can be at what they do. The beauty about bodybuilding is that it’s a sport where, ultimately, you’re competing against yourself more so than against other people.

Think of it this way: Us guys who like strong ladies do so because we like the way they look. Fine. But there’s a hidden layer underneath this. We also like their will, tenacity and dedication to looking the way they do. Lots of guys are scared and intimated by a woman who’s not afraid to break stereotypes.

Guys like me aren’t.

The peerless Kim Chizevsky could care less if you think muscles aren't sexy on a woman. You go girl! Keep pumping those biceps!
The peerless Kim Chizevsky could care less if you think muscles aren’t sexy on a woman. You go girl! Keep pumping those biceps!

10. A female muscle fetish is rare.

My last point is another point that might be partly true. It’s very hard to say how many guys are actually attracted to muscular women. It is fair to say that the number of guys who are open about their attraction to muscular women is rare. I’ll give you that.

But how many guys (like myself) keep their love for strong lassies a secret? As we all know, it’s a taboo to openly admit this, so this could explain why we think it’s so rare. But is it actually more prevalent but kept underground because of the stigma attached to it?

Anything that’s considered “weird” ceases to become weird once it becomes more popular. I could list a million things that fit into this category. But as much as I love female muscle, I’d be very hesitant to openly admit this fetish in casual conversation with my friends. Complete strangers on the Internet? No problem! My best friends? Uh, no.

So is a female muscle fetish rare? Maybe, maybe not. I’m in no position to say either yay or nay.

But maybe it isn’t. Maybe there are a lot of men out there who wouldn’t hesitate to confess that a woman with muscles is way more sexy than a woman with a bony body if it weren’t so “strange.” Maybe the more we see muscular woman in public, the more willing guys would be to whisper to their buddies, “Hey, she’s pretty hot. And strong, too!”

Maybe, and bear with me here, if more guys admitted to liking a girl with a little bulk, more women would abandon ridiculous fad diets and do more bench presses. Starve yourself to get skinny? Screw that! Go to the gym instead and LIFT to your heart’s delight! If we want to see more women in the weight room, all we simply need to do is encourage them. Hmmmmm…

Is strong the new skinny? We can only hope so.

Or, at least, I can only hope so.