Perhaps We Should Vote for a Female Bodybuilder for President

I'd vote Tina Jo Orban as "Best Legs" if such a category were to exist.
I’d vote Tina Jo Orban as “Best Legs” if such a category were to exist.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past two years, or if you live outside of the United States and you don’t particularly care what happens in this country, most of you should be aware that very soon we will be bringing this God-awful presidential election to a merciful end and will choose who our next Commander-in-Chief will be.

I refuse to even name the two candidates who are running for my nation’s highest public office on the grounds that both of them have received enough attention from people like you and I. So perhaps this post will remain relevant four, eight, or twelve years from now. Who knows?

If this excruciating and painful election cycle has taught us anything – and it has indeed taught us many valuable lessons about the state of my nation and politics in general – it’s that qualifications for the job don’t matter to the typical voter when it comes to selecting the next U.S. President. So, in an effort to not get too political and keep matters civil, I will lay out a tongue-in-cheek argument for why Americans (and people from other countries who are blessed to live in a representational democracy, or at least a country that practices such style of governance in theory) should decide to vote for a female bodybuilder for president on Tuesday, November 8, 2016.

I will admit that I am embarrassed as a U.S. citizen to subject the world to watching our political theater play out in all its horrifying glory. Let’s hope 2016 is just one of those “weird” years that we look back upon decades later and proudly declare that we were fortunate enough to have lived through it (for the most part) unscathed. After all, we could do worse. And odds are we will actually end up doing worse sooner or later.

But I digress. I am no political commentator, but in my opinion the most significant reason why U.S. politics sucks right now is because we expect our politicians to deliver on promises that were unrealistic to begin with…which then breeds contempt, more unrealistic expectations, and more extreme candidates who can only get elected if they continue to up-the-ante and foster a whole new set of stupid promises. This means personality tends to matter more than qualifications or knowledge about the job, which explains an awful lot.

However, a female bodybuilder lives in a completely different world than politicians – but can offer said politicians a lot of life lessons that could go a long way in generating better public policies.

Think about the world a female bodybuilder inhabits. She’s working in an industry that persistently is trying to weed her out of it. The Ms. Olympia is dead and buried and doesn’t appear to be coming back any time soon. Other competitions may rise out of the ashes and attempt to take its place, but that doesn’t change the fact that the IFBB isn’t too keen on allowing hypermuscular competitors to be the “face” of the female side of the sport. They’d rather more “audience friendly” fitness and bikini competitors take center stage over the bigger and buffer ladies who’ve worked harder to achieve their physiques.

So, right off the bat a female bodybuilder has to endure working in a profession where the chances of cultivating strong career prospects are becoming dimmer and slimmer as time marches on. Yet, money doesn’t fall from the skies and she has to make an income somehow. This is where things like personal training, one-on-one online consulting, fitness entrepreneurship, and ahem, offering wrestling or muscle worship sessions to paying customers (all under the table and away from the prying hands of tax collectors, of course!) fit into the picture. She may not necessarily want to do any or most of these things, but as I mentioned before, money doesn’t grow on trees and food won’t miraculously appear on the dinner table out of thin air. So, a female bodybuilder who wants to pursue bodybuilding as a profession – more or less – must adapt to her present circumstances or face the inevitable option of having to choose a different career path.

Another lovely and gorgeous Tina: Tina Chandler.
Another lovely and gorgeous Tina: Tina Chandler.

Adaptation isn’t easy or seamless, but it does happen. People who live in the real world adapt every single day of their lives. What worked yesterday won’t necessarily work today and sure as hell won’t work tomorrow, so it’s foolish to remain stilted in one’s ways of doing things. One must always look for the next best opportunity or face the consequences of becoming poor, irrelevant, or both. This requires understanding the bodybuilding industry well, knowing what customers want (if you get my drift), and being willing to forge a new pathway if the current ones leads to a dead end. I didn’t say it’s easy to do this, but it can be done. We can collectively name hundreds of female bodybuilders from all across the world who can testify to this.

Another aspect to female bodybuilding that’s important to realize is the independent nature of the sport. Unlike team sports like baseball, football (the one that features tackling, throwing, and catching), basketball, hockey, soccer, rugby, and others, bodybuilding isn’t a sport that consists of teams, teammates, and being dependent upon others to win games. It’s solely on the shoulders of each individual athlete.

Of course, it deserves to be said that every single top-level bodybuilder – male or female – has a large team of coaches, trainers, nutritional experts, doctors, and assistants who aid them on their journey to becoming an elite competitor. No man is an island, and perhaps no woman is an island either. So a female bodybuilder isn’t completely paddling a single canoe. But there’s no denying that bodybuilding is ruggedly individualistic in nature. The panel of judges that decides who wins and who doesn’t win only looks at the individual competitors, not who they have standing in their corner cheering them on.

Muhammad Ali is known as the greatest boxer of all time – not Muhammad Ali and his army of personal trainers, physicians, sparring partners, promoters, advisors, and so on. Though every top athlete has help from a team of professionals, but only one person is in the ring fighting against his or her opponent. And the last time I checked, Ali was the only one in that ring staring down his hapless challenger.

Bodybuilders of all stripes understand this reality intuitively. If they make a mistake, they alone must answer for it. They can’t blame a lazy teammate, idiotic coaching, or an overall poor supporting cast for being a perpetual loser. They only have themselves to blame if they placed 3rd at last year’s competition but 10th this year. That drop-off can have plenty of rational explanations (biased judging being a prominent one), but at the end of the day every single competitor is responsible for their own training, progress, dieting, and outcomes.

Which leads us to the next point…

Female bodybuilders aren’t striving to achieve a goal that exists only in the abstract. Rather, they bust their tails every day of their lives working toward a goal that’s specific, tangible, measurable, attainable, and very damn difficult to meet. There’s an element of poetic beauty integral to this reality, isn’t there?

If a new and up-and-coming female athlete looks at photos of Alina Popa, Debi Laszewski or Brigita Brezovac and says to herself, “I want to look like that one day,” guess what? She can! Granted, it won’t be easy and the journey from Point A to Point B will be arduous, tumultuous, and full of plenty of doubt. But nevertheless, one cannot deny that the goal can be met if she sets her mind to it and educates herself on what is necessary to get there.

Annie Rivieccio earns my vote for "Best Bicep Peak."
Annie Rivieccio earns my vote for “Best Bicep Peak.”

Unlike politicians who promise big and bold achievements that probably aren’t realistic and only will set their constituents up for disappointment, a female bodybuilder has a distinct goal in mind that’s specific and can accurately be visualized ahead of time. It doesn’t exist in a theoretical universe that looks great on paper or in a rousing speech but doesn’t actually work in real life. Bodybuilding is a sport where end results aren’t achieved by dumb luck or happenstance. It materializes when an athlete makes a definitive decision to take specific action toward achieving a precise goal.

Nobody will argue that it’ll be easy to look like Lisa Cross or Rene Campbell. That high degree of muscularity doesn’t come easily. But one cannot also argue that such objectives are impossible. They are quite possible to meet, albeit after one is eager to dramatically reorganize one’s lifestyle.

Point B isn’t a hypothetical reality that exists only in one’s mind. Building an impressive level of muscle mass is a concrete end that arises after participating in concrete means. Gaining x number of pounds of muscle or placing in the top five of a certain bodybuilding contest are measurable and quantifiable aims that are either achieved or not achieved. There is no middle ground. There is no ambiguity. Either it happened or it didn’t. Period.

And who is to blame if one sets out to gain bigger biceps and triceps and fails? You guessed it. The person who established these goals in the first place and nobody else.

One other facet of female bodybuilders that must be addressed is the fact that FBBs are, for the most part, not worried about being popular or widely accepted by society. A woman who chooses to pursue bodybuilding in any serious manner is opening herself up to a variety of different kinds of obstacles – many of which she would not face had she not decided to become a bodybuilder.

It’s no mystery that a woman with big muscles is an unusual sight to see. Simply put, these women are rare in our world. Yet, a small number of remarkable women are actively working to build big muscles despite the potential backlash that might come with it. Many will receive looks of repulsion or disgust. Accusations of being “too manly” or “becoming a man” will start to flood in. There will be those who will ask her “do you have to get that big?” Others will question her life choices and wonder if she’s hiding something.

But no matter what comes her way, a female bodybuilder must be tough-minded and relentless in the pursuit of her dreams. She must endure people looking at her differently. She must accept the fact trolls on the Internet will post nasty remarks about her. She knows the road to becoming a pro bodybuilder will be strenuous…but she does it regardless. That’s not easy to do. There aren’t too many of us in this world who are capable of breaking all those barriers, jumping over all those hurdles, and trudging through all those obstacles when the easier road is to not pursue bodybuilding in the first place.

She does what she wants to do knowing it won’t be popular with everyone. Yes, she will meet people along the way who will support her, but certainly that won’t be everybody. Doing the right thing – following your dreams – despite outside noise takes emotional and intellectual fortitude. Do you honestly believe some of our elected representatives share that same level of internal strength?

Catherine Holland could start a nuclear war over her physique.
Catherine Holland could start a nuclear war over her physique.

The final point I’ll make (although I could go on further) is that a female bodybuilder possesses a deep understanding of how the world works and must apply this knowledge practically in the quest of her chosen profession. She needs to be an entrepreneur, agent, marketer, business manager, scheduler, public relations specialist, nutritionist, athletic trainer, and personal ambassador all at the same time. As a small fish in a big pond, an FBB’s success or failure wholly depends upon how well she understands her circumstances and how she can cultivate an accomplished career from it (or despite it).

In this respect, female bodybuilders earn what’s coming to them. They aren’t “given” success. Nobody votes for them to have large muscles or a chiseled physique. They have to expel blood, sweat, and tears day in and day out to achieve their bodies. Granted, a panel of judges does elect how she places at a competition, but that’s an exception. For the most part, she wouldn’t have been able to reach that point of being on that stage unless she put in the hard work beforehand. Besides, actual competing is only a small part of the rewards that come from bodybuilding.

The biggest reward is the personal satisfaction of knowing that you’ve accomplished something grand. Nobody can take that away from you. Your opponents may have more trophies than you, but what every single competitor has is the sense of triumphant pride that comes with pursuing a goal with manic obsession. Truly, an FBB earns her success. That’s how the real world operates.

Presidents, prime ministers, senators, representatives, governors, MPs, city councilmembers, mayors, and other positions of elected authority do not always share these same traits. It seems rather odd to have a system where the power to regulate, tax, create new laws, authorize war, or incarcerate citizens are given to people who get that job simply by winning a glorified popularity contest. Very strange, indeed. But, that’s the system we have until something better replaces it.

Here in the United States of America, we give the nuclear codes to people we wouldn’t trust to manage the local Burger King. We trust those who’ve never ran a business to regulate businesses. We ask people who’ve never served in the military to send young men and women they’ve never met to a foreign country and die for an ambiguous cause. To summarize, we elect people who don’t understand how the world works to decide how the world works.

Insanity.

However, ask I’ve just articulated, a female bodybuilder does understand how the world works. She has to in order to survive. She must understand how to relate to people. She knows what it’s like to be a businesswoman…because she essentially is a one-woman business. She does what she does regardless of how unpopular it might make her. At the end of the day, a female bodybuilder shares these characteristics:

  1. Mental toughness
  2. Adaptability
  3. Entrepreneurial savviness
  4. Focus
  5. Intelligence
  6. Knowledgeable about the real world
  7. Grit
  8. Strength – both physical and emotional
  9. Ability to earn her success
  10. Independence

As I’ve said before, the list can go on and on. But you get the idea. I’m not suggesting that we should actually elect current or former female bodybuilders to high positions of political power just because they happen to be current or former FBBs. However, what I do want to illustrate is that FBBs boast a unique perspective on life that cannot be easily replicated or transferred.

I'd appoint Nikki Fuller as my Secretary of Muscle.
I’d appoint Nikki Fuller as my Secretary of Muscle.

She’s earned her success. She’s forged her own path. She’s self-taught herself topics in areas like calisthenics, biology, science, nutrition, sports medicine, etc. She lives in an environment that can be cruel and adversarial toward her. She knows how to persevere through obstacles and come out better for it. She must adapt to her surroundings…or die refusing to do so.

That’s not an easy thing to do. It’s not for everyone. Certainly not people who’ve existed in an Ivy League-encrusted silver spoon-fed bubble for their entire lives. As Americans go to the polls on November 8 they should ask themselves, “How the hell did we get here in the first place?” It’s a perfectly valid question; one that doesn’t have any easy answers.

But perhaps the answer is simple. We, as a nation, don’t value the right things. We value what we want to hear, not what we should hear. We live in a fantasy world full of bright shiny objects, not in the real world where decisions have actual consequences.

Female bodybuilders, on the other hand, do not get to live in such a magical universe. They must always be on their toes. They cannot get lazy or entitled. They must continuously grind in order to reach the Promised Land – which nobody actually promised them at all. In short, female bodybuilders represent humanity at its best. FBBs don’t make empty promises about what they think they’ll do. They actually do it every single day of their lives.

I’d vote for that.

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.

Halloween is Every Day for Female Bodybuilders

Dena Westerfield wants to suck your blood!
Dena Westerfield wants to suck your blood!

Every October 31 we celebrate a very odd holiday. People of all ages dress up in costumes, artistically carve up pumpkins, attend spooky themed parties and/or wander around their neighborhoods begging strangers to hand out candy.

No candy? No problem! Unless, of course, you don’t mind your house getting egged, toilet papered or surrounded by flaming piles of dog feces.

The concept of Halloween, according to experts in folklore, dates back to Celtic “pagan” traditions of welcoming in the harvest season. Halloween also might be rooted in Festival of the Dead-type traditions where people honor their dead relatives and usher them into the Afterlife. In the United States, a Catholic-inspired Cajun tradition began in the early days of North America to spend a nocturnal Mass at graveyards to bless the souls of the deceased.

Getting a creepy vibe already?

But today, let’s face it. Halloween is all about having a socially acceptable reason to dress up in silly costumes, watch scary movies and eat too much sugary candy. Plus, Halloween sort of officially kicks off the “holiday season” which includes Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

Some costumes range from the innocent to more “adult.” Some people will go as doctors, firefighters, kittens or Spider-Man; while other will choose the more family-friendly route and become a stripper, dominatrix or slutty nurse.

Whatever. Your choice of costume is your choice alone, as long as the company you work for doesn’t have any strict policies against publicly embarrassing yourself.

Now this is one Halloween party I'd like to attend! Here we have Annie Rivieccio, Aleesha Young and Alina Popa.
Now this is one Halloween party I’d like to attend! Here we have Annie Rivieccio, Aleesha Young and Alina Popa.

We dress up because it’s fun to pretend to be something we’re not, even if only temporarily. As kids, we wanted to be Superman and Wonder Woman. So if we dress up like them, isn’t that close enough to living out our dreams?

Perhaps, but there’s another reason why we dress up: to celebrate Halloween’s macabre roots. Zombies, vampires, serial killers, ghosts, goblins, ghouls, monsters and politicians are all par for the course. Who doesn’t like to channel their inner Jason Voorhees or reenact a scene from Night of the Living Dead? Whatever is most frightening is often the most fun.

These two reasons might explain why, as absurd as this may sound, for a female bodybuilder every day is Halloween. Every day is their chance to “dress up” and become something different. To become something superhuman, unworldly and strange. Many fans of female bodybuilders may not consider the presence of a muscular woman to be “ghoulish,” but unfortunately some people out there do. So let’s celebrate Halloween this year by paying tribute to the ladies we love 365 days a year.

Her body is her costume

Every single time an FBB goes to the gym to train, isn’t she essentially creating the “costume” that she’ll wear every single day of her life? Except in this case, her costume is her own body. It doesn’t consist of hats, tights or capes; but instead muscles, veins and sharp angular curves.

It takes a lot of work to achieve the physique of a Katka Kpytova or Alina Popa. Strict dieting, strenuous weightlifting, supplements, drugs, mental toughness, hardcore dedication and sacrifices are necessary to reach that level of muscularity. Not too many people in this world are that dedicated to their craft. But those who are should be very proud of their work.

When a woman builds bulk on her body, she’s making a decision to sculpt a better version of herself. She’s changing her identity. She’s breaking the mold of convention and embracing the nontraditional. Whether she intends to compete or not is irrelevant. The desire to gain maximum muscularity is a statement unto itself. It says “I’m reinventing myself, whether you like it or not.”

The concept of reinventing one’s self through the lifestyle of bodybuilding is fascinating. If our “traditional” idea of femininity includes slender arms, lush curves and a small frame, a female bodybuilder tosses all of that out the window. Her rebooted identity defies these norms while at the same time creating new ones. “Feminine” doesn’t have to be a euphemism for “weak.” It can mean so much more.

Her muscles are what define this new identity. Because muscles are not typically associated with femininity, women like Debi Laszewski are not seen as traditional women even though their womanhood hasn’t changed one iota. Deep down inside, Debi has always been Debi. Even before she took up bodybuilding, Debi was Debi. Now that she’s a world class athlete, she’s still Debi.

You don't want to get on Maribel Barnes's bad side!
You don’t want to get on Maribel Barnes’s bad side!

Think of it this way: the mere presence of muscles on a woman’s body doesn’t change anything about her. Whether someone changes their appearance for the better or for the worst, who they are intrinsically doesn’t change. Yes, an FBB may gain more confidence during her training, but her inherent identity hasn’t been altered by a single degree. Everyone has an identity. Your body’s appearance is just one facet of that.

In this respect, a female bodybuilder’s muscles act as her “costume” or “uniform.” To put it another way, a football player becomes a football player once they put on their pads, helmet, shoes and protective gear. When it’s not game time and they’re dressed in “street clothes” out in everyday life, they’re no longer a football player. They’re just like you and I. Sometimes, the uniform makes all the difference.

Likewise, an FBB’s muscles acts as her professional uniform. It informs us about who she is and what she does. But that’s not all that there is to her. She’s so much more than her appearance. Her thoughts, feelings, beliefs, actions, relationships, opinions, interests and everything else encompasses her entire identity. Her body is just the uniform she wears as a result of her chosen profession.

Like other self-revealing occupational uniforms (a construction worker’s hat, a doctor’s smock, a radio DJ’s headset, etc.), a female bodybuilder’s muscular body is an instantly identifiable clue as to what she does for a living. It’s her way of announcing to the world what she’s passionate about. It’s an outward expression of self-identification. Her muscles are her costume. Her muscles are her uniform. Her muscles are not her entire identity, but it’s a very important part of it.

Her body as a grotesque costume

It’s maddening. It’s ridiculous. It’s blatantly sexist and stupid. But this train of thought still exists: Muscular women are gross. They’re disgusting. They’re not real women. They’re women who are trying to become men. They’re revolting to look at. They shouldn’t look like that. Blah, blah, blah.

While the previous point talks about a female bodybuilder’s muscles being her living costume, this point discusses her muscles as other people perceive them. Unfortunately, not everyone perceives them in a positive light.

For many people, an FBB’s muscles make her a monster. It makes her a freak. It changes her identity, but not in a good way. It’s scary, frightening, disturbing, repulsive and lots of other synonyms that would tear a thesaurus in half. Her Halloween costume resembles that of a horror movie villain rather than an elite athlete. These perceptions explain why more women don’t lift weights at the gym and are afraid to pick up a dumbbell heavier than 8 pounds.

I've never seen the film "Blood + Kisses" starring Denise Masino, but I'm sure she's very sexy in it!
I’ve never seen the film “Blood + Kisses” starring Denise Masino, but I’m sure she’s very sexy in it!

Thus, another reason why every day is Halloween for female bodybuilders is because for many folks out there, an FBB is a walking and breathing humanistic monstrosity of distorted femininity. Her Halloween costume is her “man-like” muscles that obviously make her so unattractive. Whether her motivation for gaining muscle mass has anything to do with a deliberate attempt at reorganizing her gender identity has nothing to do with this perception. For far too many people, a muscular woman is nothing more than a woman pretending to be a man (or to put it another way, she’s “unnatural” for looking like that).

Or, wanting to become a man. Short of undergoing gender reconstruction surgery, adding muscle bulk to her body is the next best option. This opinion is far from being the most popular reason why women decide to pursue bodybuilding. Most do it for the sport. Others do it for self-empowerment. For many, it might be a “hobby,” but one that they take a bit more seriously than knitting or collecting postage stamps.

For the men and women out there who are genuinely sickened by muscular women…well, that’s life. There’s very little that will change overnight. They might view her like a sci-fi creature from a mad scientist’s laboratory, but the rest of us know better. It’s only a matter of time when women like Lisa Cross are celebrated as much as mainstream female celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence.

If Tina Chandler wanted to arrest me...yeah, I'd let her.
If Tina Chandler wanted to arrest me…yeah, I’d let her.

Trick or treat?

Just so we don’t end this discussion on a sour note, imagine this scenario playing out in your actual life:

You’re going out trick-or-treating. Let’s say you’re an adult, but you live in a neighborhood where it’s socially acceptable for grownups to knock on doors and ask for candy. It’s getting late, so you know it’s about time to start wrapping up this confection excursion. You have one house left to visit. It’s nearing 9 p.m. (your self-imposed bedtime is 9:30 for whatever boring reason) and your bag of candy is still not completely full.

You knock on the door of a strange brick house standing on the top of a steep hill. It’s covered with moss, ivy, chipped paint and cobwebs. You’re alone. Your heart races but you’re still insisting on gathering as much sweet loot as possible. You approach the house cautiously. You knock once. No answer. You knock twice. Still no answer. You knock thrice. Once again, there is no answer. You wait a beat. Then two beats. Then three. Several more beats pass by, then you finally give up and start to walk back to the main street. Then, out of nowhere, you hear the door open. It creeks loudly. You turn around. And you see who answers the door.

Monica Martin. MEOW!
Monica Martin. MEOW!

It’s not one, nor two, nor three, but seven gorgeous female bodybuilders having some sort of a spooky soiree. They’re all in costume, ranging from Elvira to a cannibalistic Nazi zombie stripper to a trial lawyer. Seven tall, thick, highly muscular women with the most beautiful faces you’ve ever seen. They seem intrigued by you. They look you up and down at your wimpy frame and even wimpier costume. A glow-in-the-dark cartoon skeleton? Seriously? That’s the best you could do?

The host FBB speaks first.

“Are you here to trick-or-treat?” she asks. Her low, gravelly voice seems to shake the foundations of the Earth.

“Uh, yes. That’s why I’m here ma’am,” you answer timidly.

The seven start to laugh. You might have heard laughter from several other female bodybuilders inside the house that you can’t see. The leader raises a hand to hush everyone up. Everyone becomes silent. But their gaze is still exclusively on you.

“Good,” she begins. “Then you should come on in. We’ve got a very big treat for you.”

The seven FBBs move to the side of the door, inviting you indoors. You can clearly see that the house is infested with beautiful muscular women, all of them more muscular and more beautiful than the rest. There must be several dozens of them in there. Their costumes are very sexy. Everyone is scorching hot beyond description. You’re speechless.

But you go inside nevertheless. The door closes behind you. The party commences.

Happy Halloween!

The Scarcity Principle: What it Means, What We Can Learn From it and How it Relates to Female Bodybuilders

Cathy LeFrancois is the Holy Grail of female bodybuilders.
Cathy LeFrancois is the Holy Grail of female bodybuilders.

Let’s discuss a topic that’s relevant to both social psychology and economics.

The Scarcity Principle.

The Scarcity Principle refers to the belief that human beings tend to place a higher value on an object that is scarce and a lower value on objects that are abundant.

In other words, people are attracted to things that are in limited supply. We love anything that we consider to be “special” or “unique” or “available for a limited time only.”

We couldn’t care less for things that are readily available, accessible to the general public or are a dime a dozen. No sir! I want what nobody else can get.

If my cousin Bob and sister Jane can have it too…well, then count me out. I don’t want it anymore!

We can think of numerous examples in everyday life that confirm The Scarcity Principle. How about the Black Friday sales you see the day after Thanksgiving? If you think about it, any item that’s on sale on Black Friday is also available during the other 364 days of the calendar year. Yet, how can you say “no” to those low prices? How am I ever going to find discounts on washing machines this good anywhere else?

Or think of it in terms of the dating pool. Logically, we’d think that loneliness would never happen in a large metropolitan city. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Studies have shown (and I have no clue whatsoever who actually conducts these studies) that people have a harder time finding friends and romantic partners in a big city versus a smaller suburb or town. Why is this? Simple: When there are too many people around, you place a lower value on them.

Why date this particular guy or a girl when I have plenty of other options at my disposal?

Yet, people remain lonely despite these alleged “plenty of other options.” When you hear people say there are plenty of fish in the sea, it leaves a heartbroken person little comfort. Because, ironically, that’s the problem unto itself! There are way too many options out there for you to choose from. So, you get antsy and decide not to choose anyone at all.

The one and only Tina Chandler.
The one and only Tina Chandler.

It’s better to be safe (alone) than sorry (in a relationship that you ultimately find boring and unfulfilling), one rationalizes to one’s self.

According to census data, in 1950 the world’s population was approximately 2.5 billion people. Today, it’s well over 7 billion. That means in 64 years (which isn’t that much time when you consider how long humans have lived on this planet) the number of people on Earth has nearly tripled. Tripled! Think about that. At the end of World War II, for every person on the planet there would be two more today. If you killed (or magically transported to Venus) two-thirds of our population, you could return back to the days when Communism was considered the next big thing and poodle skirts were all the rage.

Oh, what a simpler time that was!

Yet, despite these statistical facts, we see worldwide an explosion of online dating websites, high divorce rates and loneliness in urban cities. With more people around, shouldn’t we have an easier time finding the love of our life? How can we not have enough friends when there are 7 billion potential buddies occupying this floating rock in space together?

Seem counterintuitive? It should, because none of this makes any logical sense. But, if you really think about it, all of this makes perfect sense.

Think of it this way. Imagine you’re about to have dinner at a restaurant. You’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary or just having a special night out on the town. You sit down (let’s imagine it’s an elegant Italian place), open the menu, scan your options and are dumbfounded. What do you order? I mean, there are so many dishes I could pick! I could get a pasta dish, a pizza, a calzone, a dinner salad, something from the seafood section…or I could sell out and get a hamburger.

I like hamburgers. Sure, I’ll go with the cheeseburger and fries, Mrs. Salvatore!

Having too many options makes people nervous. What if I choose the “wrong” option even though there probably isn’t a “wrong option” in the first place? Odds are every dish at this fine restaurant will provide you a great tasting dinner. But there’s that sliver of doubt in your mind that tells you one dish has to be superior to the rest. And you’d be a fool to pick the wrong one.

Monique Hayes is ready for her close-up!
Monique Hayes is ready for her close-up!

So do you ask your waiter or waitress to make a recommendation for you? Or do you close your eyes and randomly select a choice with your index finger? Either option would probably work equally well. Or you could simply order what someone else is having (“I’ll have what she’s having”), thus putting the decision-making pressure off of you.

The same goes for economics.

I don’t want the tablet device or smartphone that all my neighbors have. I want the newest model that none of these suckers have…even though they’ll eventually get it a year or two from now.

Because, let’s be completely honest here, who doesn’t want to be the envy of your pals for having the nicest and shiniest new toys?

Corporations and marketing teams exploit The Scarcity Principle to the point where it’s become a science. Figuring out how to maximize profit in a short amount of time given a limited supply of a particular product isn’t difficult to do. Create limited-time offers. Hype up a sales day. Intentionally release your new products slowly. Create an advertising strategy that implies that not everyone should use this product, but you can.

Everything boils down to making an object feel special even if it’s not. Conversely, when an object is in abundance, you don’t want it as much. Fifteen years ago it was cool to have a cell phone because no one else had one. Today, everyone and their grandmother has a smartphone that can call, text, surf the Internet and wash your car. Now it’s become mainstream. And nothing sucks more than something that’s lost its coolness and has become so damn ordinary.

A buff, beautiful Asian woman. Amanda Lau is scarce, indeed.
A buff, beautiful Asian woman. Amanda Lau is scarce, indeed.

So, let’s do a quick recap. We value things that are scarce. We don’t value things that are common. We get overwhelmed by too many options. We get underwhelmed when a previously rare commodity becomes commonplace. In a nutshell, supply (either the abundance or shortage of it) warps our perceptions of the actual value of said supply.

What can we learn from this? Simple. It is important to place a value on everything – using our own objective criteria – so we know what something is worth despite what external influences may tell us.

Don’t let clever marketing strategies or base emotions dictate how you view the value of something or someone. Your cute but shy co-worker who’s always around could very well be more valuable than that elusive hot blonde you see at the bus stop every day. You don’t need “new” gadgets when the “old” models work just fine. Too many options can be a bad thing despite what consumer culture tells you.

The Scarcity Principle tells us that the dynamics of supply and demand, while it has nothing to do with altering the intrinsic worth of an object, can manipulatively make us place artificial values on objects for no good reason. A slice of pizza from a shopping mall food court isn’t necessarily less delicious than a slice of pizza at a 5-star hotel. It could be, but don’t automatically assume so.

That guy who’s playing “hard to get” isn’t necessarily better “boyfriend material” than the shy fellow who lives next door to you who’s kind, sweet but a tad socially awkward.

So, what does this have to do with female bodybuilders?

Good question!

Female bodybuilders, like fine French wine or a blood red moon, are rare. Period. They aren’t available in everyday life. Millions upon millions of women in our society don’t look like Lora Ottenad or Kasie Cavanaugh. Oh, it would be sweeeeeeeeeeeeeet if that were the case, but sadly it isn’t.

The Scarcity Principle might explain why many men (and women) idolize female bodybuilders to the point of developing an obsession with them. We obsess over them because their rarity grants them God-like divine status in our eyes. We love them for all the traditional reasons (sex appeal, gorgeous bodies, stunning physiques), but we also love them because there’s this thing about them you can’t teach:

Mystique.

Female bodybuilders are mystifying. They pique our curiosity. Their mysteriousness titillates us. Muscular women are like a Rubik’s Cube. No matter how much you try to figure them out, they keep throwing more twists and turns at you to keep you guessing for all eternity. How do they look like that? Why do they want to look like that? What drives them to look like? When a female bodybuilder walks into a room, everyone’s attention instantly focuses on her. Some are aroused. Others are disgusted. A few are confused and conflicted. But the reaction that speaks loudest is this: Reverence.

We revere those whom we are attracted to but feel separated from. Female bodybuilders aren’t normal women. Technically, they’re no different from anybody else, but hot damn! How can you not become obsessed with Cathy LeFrancois or Catherine Holland?

Their ambiance is so captivating. And once you get your first taste of muscular women, you can never go back.

How much reverence do you have for Nicole Ball?
How much reverence do you have for Nicole Ball?

The deification of female bodybuilders is caused by The Scarcity Principle. There’s no other explanation for it. These women are beautiful rare specimens. Like a brilliant diamond sparkling on top of a museum pedestal, we fixate over them because they seem so far away from us. For most of us, a genuinely large female bodybuilder is probably nowhere to be found. I don’t know about you, but FBBs who look like Katka Kyptova aren’t exactly regulars at the Starbucks across from my apartment.

No wonder why many FBBs do “sessions” with their adoring fans. Where else are regular folk going to be able to touch the rock hard muscles of an exquisite muscular woman? Popular session providers can probably make a healthy amount of income (all tax free, no doubt) when all is said and done. One road trip across America, Europe and anywhere else a female bodybuilder decides to embark upon could put a lot of dough in her pocket – even after she takes travel expenses into account.

So there you have it. Now you have a better understanding from a psychological and economic perspective why we love female muscle so much. Their scarcity gives them power. Their uncommonness (yes, that’s actually a word) gives them the ultimate bargaining chip.

Female bodybuilders aren’t like ice cream flavors at Baskin-Robbins or used bicycles on Craigslist. Female bodybuilders are like The Holy Grail from the Arthurian legend.

A divine object that can make men go mad with obsession. Men will kill each other just to have it. She holds all the power. We commoners are powerless to resist.

Not that we’d want to resist, of course!