Exploring The Psycho-Social Aspects Surrounding Muscular Women and The Men Who Celebrate Them by Richard and Jayne Greye – femuscleblog
The book can be purchased on Smashwords and Amazon The world of e-books is vast and growing. The reason is that it gives authors an opportunity to publish works that otherwise would not be accepted by mainstream publishers . Iron Beauties is an e-book that explores the subject of muscular women and their male admirers. […]

The book can be purchased on Smashwords and Amazon

The world of e-books is vast and growing. The reason is that it gives authors an opportunity to publish works that otherwise would not be accepted by mainstream publishers . Iron Beauties is an e-book that explores the subject of muscular women and their male admirers. There has been a silent revolution, that few have taken note of. While women rise in various areas that were once male dominated, they are also gaining a new sense of physical power. Women’s participation in sports and fitness has dramatically increased over the past decades. Sportswomen are no longer afraid to challenge what a woman should look like. The physically strong woman seeks to develop her body to the maximum. This has generated numerous reactions ranging from fear, disgust, curiosity, shock, and sexual attraction. This monograph takes a new approach studying the psycho-social elements through interviews and meticulous research. The authors Richard and Jayne Greye provide a rare insight into the growing world of female strength and muscle.

Iron Beauties also provides a historical and sociological context of the challenges women face. Women are now weightlifters, bodybuilders, and crossfit athletes. This is a major paradigm shift compared to other eras in history. At no point in human history were women this developed in terms of strength and muscle. Muscular women did exist prior to the 21st century, but none had ever build physiques as the ones of today. The growing male fan base shows that their has been a change in thought and a wider acceptance of the physically strong woman. Iron Beauties provides a candid view of the female muscle fandom.

Historically, as Iron Beauties explains women had a secondary status. Remnants of this still remain with unequal pay, threats to reproductive rights, and unequal education. Often overlooked in the narrative is how beauty standards were also used to control women. These changed with time. The Paleolithic era fertility sculptures show that a larger female frame could have been preferred. Iron Beauties mentions in Ancient Greece, it was the golden ratio that dictated what was an aesthetic body. These bodies of women were much more full and soft compared to what followed in the Victorian Age. The idea of frail and delicate female emerged during this period. The limitation with this analysis is that it puts emphasis on western beauty standards. African, Asian, Oceanian, and Latin American culture had varying criteria of what was considered beautiful. Not all cultures thought physical weakness in women was an ideal. When European colonial empires emerged, they began to impose their ideals onto the African and Asian lands that they conquered. This included concepts of beauty and gender roles.

Paleolithic fertility figure shows a much larger female body.
The mino warriors of Dahomey. Compared to women of the UK in the 19th century, they had more freedom.
Women’s clothing was designed to restrict their movement.
The radical change we see today

Women were chasing an image of beauty that was unattainable throughout history. Eventually, there came women who challenged the status quo. The 19th century strongwomen proved women were not the weaker sex, despite many believing pseudoscientific theories of the time. Vulcana was considered a rare wonder for her time, but that is not the case in the contemporary era. This generates questions that Iron Beauties attempts to answer. Can this drive to develop strength challenge patriarchy? Are women seeking a type of physical equality ? Both authors admit there are other questions they cannot fully answer, however they can give details about this movement rarely examined by academic or sports circles.

A wonderful highlight of the monograph is “Reflections from Women.” One problem with certain works that discuss this topic is that it focuses more on the male perspective. Iron Beauties does not treat women as inanimate objects with no thoughts or feelings. The chapter provides a detailed history of the evolution of the female muscular aesthetic from the strongwoman acts of the 1800s to the modern strength sports of the 2000s. It also reveals motivations for competition and why women love their new found strength. The early world of female muscle was that of strongwoman acts. Katie Sandwina and Athleta were the notable athletes doing various strong woman acts. Breaking chains, juggling cannonballs, and lifting large barbells became common acts. Resistance acts included holding weights from their teeth, hair, or hair. Iron jaw acts amazed and dazzled audiences. The Great Depression stalled these acts, but strong women would emerge once more. Pudgy Stockton would become the most notable in the 1940s and 1950s. The women’s rights movement of the 1970s saw women entering numerous fields including sports. The birth of Title IX created a new generation of female athletes with more opportunities than ever before. Doris Barrilleaux was a pioneer in female body building and founded the Superior Physique Association in 1978. It should not be forgotten that Lisa Lyon and Kellie Everts also were pivotal harbingers although they did not compete long. Without their past efforts, the first Ms. Olympia Rachel Mclish would not have had a platform to compete.

A poster of a strong woman act
Doris Barrilleaux
Rachel Mclish
The most successful Ms. Olympia champions Lenda Murray and Iris Kyle

Even though women gained an arena to compete this does not come with acceptance from the wider society or the industry . The chapter mentions there is a concept of acceptable level of strength and muscularity for women. The obvious double standard is worse enough, but the sexist thinking behind it is more insidious. Women should not have power in any form. While social power in terms of rights and education cannot be denied, there still is a taboo about women obtaining physical power. The chapter does this well by mentioning Pumping Iron II . Disapproval was worse in the past and there has been slight improvement. Athletes have reported their are men who enjoy and appreciate their accomplishments.

Motivation is a large factor in building such physiques. Women have different reason for doing so. Being inspired by other athletes can be a reason. Improving health also is an objective. Improving self-esteem and confidence was a reason. Women’s physical and psychological well being has been a major theme that athletes both past and present say was most essential. Women who live in male dominated societies do not have these aspects properly fulfilled. Sometimes training can also be used as a tool for traumatic events. Sexual violence , divorce, bullying, and sports injury were listed as reasons. This is about a desire to regain control in life. Training becomes a form of treatment for eating disorders, complicated childbirth, obesity, and anorexia. Kristy Hawkins overcame an eating disorder to become a bodybuilder and powerlifter. Brandie Mae used weightlifting to deal with her abandonment issues with her mother. Rene Campbell used lifting to cope with divorce. Pain or personal hardship is not the sole motivation. Some athletes reveal they enjoy being different and unique.

Haley McNeff a bodybuilder once said ” I would hate to be skinny and normal looking.” Societies that value a rigid conformity will never advance. The desire to break away from the usual convention shows a new type of thinking. Some would easily claim these women have some form are narcissistic or selfish. Bodily empowerment as it is described in the book should not be considered egotistical. Rarely is this label given to men who have the same drive and ambition. Such traits were and continue to be condemned in women based on the societies in which they live. A misogynistic mindset frames confidence in women as being arrogant . Women when they get more physically powerful gain more confidence and it spreads to other areas of life. Bodybuilding and strength sports provide a copious amount of benefits to women.

There is another aspect women discuss about their new found strength in relation to men. To an extent it gives them both sexual and physical control. It is no secret , there are men who love this and in fact man women are stronger than many average men. Renata Turco expressed “muscularity will never be big enough to challenge male domination completely.” She explained further that it could be an option. Some women might seek to enhance their physiques with the intention of gaining power over men. It is questionable that women getting physically stronger would bring about some matriarchy. Real power is invested in business, politics, and multiple institutions. Women have been maneuvering through these areas already. Many the change that comes from the physically powerful woman is in social relations. Women would not be dependent on male security. Men may think twice on how they treat women.

Reactions can either be negative or positive depending on who is the observer. Men tend to express negative comments based on numerous reasons. Lenda Murray stated it comes from a point of insecurity. There is more to it than that. A vicious prejudice is present in regards to women in what are thought to be male only activities. While there are some women who also express negative views of muscular women, males do this out of ignorance or spite. Women’s reactions could be out of jealousy or being judgmental. Some may not like the fact they are getting more male attention. Women who build their physiques also find themselves still conforming to cultural standards of femininity. Athletes are pressured into getting breast implants or sometimes they decide to do it willingly. Athletes even note it is an unspoken fact that some get higher placings for having them. The female bodybuilder in certain ways breakers gender barriers, but in others affirms the status quo. There really is no answer to the implant controversy. Many times it is forgotten in a sea of other issues. Despite this, the athletes build a strong support structure and continue to triumph over opposition.

The biggest error some make is that no man would like muscular women. That is false and Iron Beauties describes a growing fandom. Strong women do appear in myths and history. Spartan women exercised and were in foot races. The ancient Greeks told tales of the Amazons. Iron Beauties shows that the physically powerful woman is not a recent development. The reason there may not be exact numbers of schmoes is due to the fact fetishes have been stigmatized. A paraphilia is a clinical condition, a fetish is part of sexual expression. Liking muscular women is not a disorder. Everyone who likes muscular women would not be designated a schome. The text points out ancient Greeks would not be considered schmoes for their Amazon myths and Spartan women. Men have a specific fetish called sthenolagina and craolgaina. This is a sexual attraction to muscles and strength. According to the men, their fetish began in youth. It was only when the got older when friends, family, and the wider society set the message it was unacceptable to like such women. Iron Beauties does not attempt to answer the bigger question of why this happens, rather it wants to document how men came to their love of female muscle.

Childhood experiences of witnessing girls doing some feat of strength or seeing strong women acted as a click in their minds. Overtime, this love grew stronger. The problem is with other people not understanding it and projecting homophobic or sexist overtones. Women with any type of power are seen as a threat. Physical strength and muscle directly challenge the idea of the women being the weaker sex.

A debate has emerged from the use of schmoe. Iron Beauties may be the first to address it in writing. The book prefers the term buffs rather than schmoe. The reason is understandable , because it has a negative connotation. Every schmoe does not fit the stereotype. Nor is everyone rude or demanding of women. Oddly, some athletes believed the stereotypes of schmoes, but when they met some their opinion changed. The industry seems to ostracize this group, even though it acts as a financial support to the athletes. Making a new term raises problems. It makes it appear that it is a response to the perception from the mainstream, rather than the subculture itself. It may add to the idea that loving female muscle is still a strange behavior. Possibly, the term buff could be reclassified into its own branch in the female muscle fandom. Female muscle buffs can be the fans who are very knowledgeable fans about the sport. Their knowledge and information is almost encyclopedic . Schmoes are extreme hyper fans, yet they enjoy a certain type of muscular woman. The biggest and strongest women are what they prefer. All these types of fans fall under a large female muscle fandom. This almost parallels the term otaku in anime fandom. Anime fans may not want to use the term, because it is associated with a negative connotation. Maybe its time for subcultures to take back these terms and define them in a new way. After all, language and the lexicon change overtime.

Having a female muscle fetish can be hard on men. The criticism and ridicule forces them to either remain quiet or be shameful. There are men who even sought therapy to make their fetish go away. The point that Iron Beauties makes is that these men confused their natural sexual urges with deviancy. From a wider perspective, society does this. Sex and sexual behavior was not widely discussed. Even sex education has been termed “family life education” which was designed to placate the more conservative elements of society. Religion seems to think sex should only be for producing children and a family, not for pleasure. Sexual impulse and behavior has been demonized through history. Only with the sexual revolution was there a change. If relations between average men and women cause a stir, then it is no wonder female muscle fans are also the target of puritan thought. At one time sex before marriage was not considered appropriate. That has changed and it will take more time for people to have an understanding of this fetish.

“Couples That Arm Wrestle” probably is the the most unique chapter. It discusses relationships between men and their muscle women. The idea that muscle women only date or marry the Arnold Schwarzenegger types is not true. A strong woman can marry a an average man. The question remains does this change a power dynamic? The Greyes explain it does not. The women are not seeking to be controlling of men or abusive. The men who are not in the same shape as their wife or girlfriend may get ostracized. The reactions on fitness message boards and forums show that some are more closed minded about the topic. There is a fear that if a woman rises to a level so high, she will stop loving or respecting her partner. Iron Beauties reveals from these messages women admitting they would actually feel this way. This just furthers a more hegemonic view of gender roles. There is an unspoken value that men are suppose to be physically dominant over women. The more subtle sexism comes from a notion women need protection. The other is that women require control and reduced freedom. While these dated ideas still remain, other seek more healthy romantic relationships. Looks alone will not build a happy one. Relationships become even more difficult when it comes to the subject between reality and sexual fantasy. Reducing a woman to solely her body is dehumanizing . Some schmoes have done this by being extra critical of some of the women’s appearances. While it would seem that female muscle lovers would seek out strong women, a portion are married or dating average women.

Men who are dating or married to average girls do not admit their desires. They hide their videos, pictures, and books. The fear is that it will offed their partners or they will criticize them about it. Some are fearful that it will make the women they are with feel bad about their own image. Relationships and marriage can already be complicated, but adding the debate about muscle women only adds more dimensions. It is not easy for female athletes in relationships with partners with similar interests in fitness. Jayne Greye explained in the chapter, if muscle is secondary then the relationship might work. This topic related to the female muscle fandom is not mentioned often in the female muscle fandom.

Art is also part of the growing subculture. Writing, drawings, paintings, and works of fiction are a part of the female muscle fandom. Sometimes muscular female characters appear in mainstream works. Iganuna Love and Achilles Choice are novels that featured muscular female protagonists. Other books like Body and Chemical Pink take the image of female bodybuilder to an extreme. Muscular women have occasionally appeared in art and photography, before the female muscle fandom. Michelangelo featured muscular women in his works. Robert Mapelthrope’s photography featured Lisa Lyon. To extent the muscular woman was always around, but it is only in recent history it has gotten more attention. The rise of the internet and social media allows individuals to publish works of their own. Iron Beauties sites much of this is erotic ,yet overtime it really has evolved. The fetish element is there, yet some go beyond that. The quality varies among writing and art. Stories may be extremely violent or lascivious, others seem to be more about a storyline. Iron Beauties is correct in the assessment that making the stories more complex and imaginative can expand the audience. David C. Matthews has created characters that fall into the female muscle growth genre, but stories are more detailed. Going beyond the fetish the protagonists go on various adventures.

Female muscle art has appeared on multiple websites.
Over past few decades David C. Matthews had done various type of female muscle art.
Fetish art and writing has one purpose arousal for the readers.
Stain Steele is a crime fighting female bodybuilder.
Princess of Prowess is a webcomic about Dolores Dulac who gained immense strength through magic. It focuses on her adventures, rather than fetish material.

At some point the line between being just fetish or entertainment that happens to have muscular women in it becomes blurred. Iron Beauties describes this as a niche audience. It should be noted many artists do this for their own personal satisfaction, rather than profit. If it were to marketed to a mainstream audience, then certain adjustments would have to be made. The niche audience sometimes can be used to athletes advantage. Lisa Cross produced Devil and Disciple in 2015. This is unique in the sense that an athlete, rather than a fan produced fetish writing. Iron Beauties also brings up another conversation about what can be art or what is considered purely erotic.

There is a fine lime between art and the erotic. The paradox can be seen with Bill Dobbins photography. His work displays the beauty of the female muscular form. Photography is an art, so why would his work be classified as separate. The photography of muscular Iron Beauties claims focuses on the sexual aspect, rather that seeing the female bodybuilder as a work of art. Looking at the female nude in art, the eroticism cannot be ignored. The fact of the matter is any image of a muscular could induce arousal depending on context. Suggestion and innuendo can be communicated in a non-verbal way.

Venus of Urbino could be seen as lascivious or a work of art depending on who is observing it.
Could this be considered art or erotic spectacle? Determining the answer could be difficult.
The Rokeby Venus another example of the female nude present in art.
Are photographers of the female physique displaying nothing more than a sex sells concept or continuing an artistic tradition ? It could be a little bit of both.

At some point in the analysis, sexual objectification and admiration may lose distinction. The dividing line becomes clear when women are dehumanized, accomplishments ignored, or reduced to being meat. However, it becomes clear that some female fans like the women for reasons beyond sexual urges. Many respect the diligence, effort, and mental fortitude to reach this level. The women have become pioneers in something new and constantly evolving. Rejecting the conformist masses becomes a radical statement. Many the works by independent artists from Deviant Art, Instagram, and Patreon are just following the artistic tradition. Female muscle growth may not become an art style given iconographical investigation, but it does reveal much about how a subculture can expand.

Session wrestling is another element that Iron Beauties studied. Women have motivations beyond financial. The sport does not pay well and competing can be expensive. This may be the primary reason, but there are women who get enjoyment out of it. It is no surprise that women get arousal out of dominating the men physically. The error is that many people assume that fetishes are mostly a male sexual behavior, but women have them too. Role reversal and power exchange become a fun activity for women. Some equate sessions to prostitution, which is not a fair assessment. All sessions do not involve sex( although sometimes it could happen ). Women are not coerced into sex by clients. Many of these men could have girlfriends and wives. Their session going is a secret to fulfil a fetish not cheat. Although, their are problems that come with this. Clients may treat a female wrestler like property, because they paid for a wrestling experience. Schmoes are given a poor reputation by the behavior of a few. These men certainly would not be classified as “buffs.” Rather they are sexually aggressive men who think women should serve them. These types became more recognizable with the #Me Too movement. Others women discover can be very gentleman like.

Women have mixed feelings regrading these men, mainly because of experiences and stereotypes that surround them. Jill Lundy a physique competitor at first was more critical of them, but her mind changed discovering they were a more diverse group. Women like the fact there are devoted fans who appreciate their talent. Others enjoy being like a celebrity. Lauren powers says that she has fun meeting different people and enjoys time with clients. Muscle worshippers can come from various ethnic backgrounds, religions, and all levels of the socioeconomic strata. Wrestling may not even be part of the experience, rather some men just want to see the woman. Often this is framed as women being sexually exploited by men. That is not the truth. What is shows is how women have developed an economic model and surviving in an area that does not give them the same opportunities. If prize money is low and sponsorship lacking, another method of raising funds needed to be employed.

The men who go seek out session want to fulfil their fantasies. They want to either be dominated or put in a submissive position. An outlet for an expression of the love of female muscle. Viewing pictures of videos may not be enough satisfaction. The first sessions make men nervous. The interviews showed that men had concerns about doing sessions and meeting someone they admire. The fear of crossing a boundary was an issue. Sessions take place in hotel rooms or the home of the athlete, which makes this more furtive. These interviews by men and women expose the exact nature of the muscle worship and session wrestling activities. Although the submission and domination theme is present, the primary focus in on women showing their physical power.

Iron Beauties makes a thoughtful observation about the need to feel a woman’s power and the theories of William Multon Marston. The creator of Wonder Woman noted that men who like strong women will be more willing to submit. What he was talking about was the loving authority of woman. Session wrestling is not considered BSDM. Particular elements may overlap, but pain or harm is not the ultimate objective. Role play becomes a part of the process. Sometimes session wrestlers and clients become attached to one another. One session client Don describes how he and the female bodybuilder he was with ended up getting physically intimate. Don does not consider this prostitution, rather it became a complex social interaction in an underground setting. Sex in sessions does happen, but it cannot be said how common it is. Most of the men and women involved are not looking for some long term relationship or one night stand. Session wrestling is called “the dark side of female bodybuilding.” Yet can it really be that awful if this is done by two consenting adults ? There are female bodybuilders who do offer sex as part of their sessions. That is no reason to condemn them. There should be no reason to look down upon sex workers either. Session may cause out rage among the prudish or the judgmental. The critics remain silent compared to the inequalities of the industry.

Bodybuilding is estimated to be a multi-million dollar industry. Women do not share in this economy prosperity. Blatant sexism and a male dominated industry should be more of the dark side. The Weider brothers for a longtime had an undisputed domination of the fitness industry. Even though both have passed on, the empire they build remains influential. Magazines, exercise equipment, and supplements were products they sold to the public. During this process they wanted to sell the female body, not as an athletic image, rather a sexual one. Bev Francis was not given the same amount of sponsorship or attention, because the Weider brothers wanted to emphasis an ideal femininity, rather than women’s athletic talent. Lenda Muarry was normally discussed in sexual terms in their publications. Women also have very little control over judging criteria.

Lenda Murray won the 1991 Ms. Olympia and it did generate controversy. However, Lenda as the years went on would replicate the physique that Bev Francis developed, which would win her a total of eight Ms. Olympia titles.
Bev Francis was a great female bodybuilder. The Weider’s did not want her to win the Ms. Olympia , because they thought her look was not marketable.
Critics have noted that sexual objectification of female athletes is designed to degrade their accomplishments.

The sex sells philosophy spills over into judging decisions . This projects itself in the demand that women appear “feminine” and not to take their bodies to “the extreme.” This only confuses competitors. The obsessive need to keep women in a strict gender role seems present in multiple industries. Crossfit has as Iron Beauties noted reduced the stigma surrounding women and muscle. It appears that their is a level of gender equality seeing as men and women get the same amount of prize money. There is a bodybuilding and Crossfit rivalry, yet in some regards bodybuilding is backward. The goal of the Weider Corporation was to sell more products and expand the business empire not advance women’s athletics. This was why Bev Francis was not allowed to win Ms. Olympia. Her appearance was not marketable enough. Then femininity rules were put into place. A fitness division was added as an alternative to the more muscular physiques. This plan to phase of female muscularity actually backfired. The more divisions added, the more women participated. Figure, physique, and bikini were added which are basically female weight classes. The question of what is considered “too much” has been answered. Then again, what is considered a proper female bodybuilding physique depends on preference. While the industry shut them out in terms of building financial power, athletes used the internet to combat this. Herbiceps.Com pays athletes for photo shoots and videos contributing to their income. What can be extrapolated from this chapter is that the industry is not tapping into a large reserve of potential. Female bodybuilding may be a subculture, but there is a large enough niche to generate profit . The success that can be found on websites and social media prove that.

Muscle women have made appearances in media . Iron Beauties shows that this is too frequent to be brushed off as mere coincidence. These are either negative or sometimes positive portrayals. Linda Hamilton displayed a fit physique in Terminator II (1991) , not being a damsel in distress in the first film. Tatiania Anderson’s role in American Pie Beta House (2007)played on stereotypes and shock value. Skin Deep (1989) was different, because the female bodybuilder was not there to mock strong or athletic women. Lonnie Jones played by Raye Holitt is seen as just as attractive as the other women Jack sees in the movie. Watching it makes one wonder why the sex scene was prominently featured. Rachel Mclish starred in Ravenhawk and appeared in Iron Eagles III .

Skin Deep
American Pie Beta House
Nemesis 2

Sue Price starred in the B movies Nemesis 2, 3, and 4. Athletes have appeared on screen, yet remain marginalized in film to an extent. While the idea of female hero has become popular, the idea of a muscular one has not. There are Mary Sues, yet they do not have the muscle to back it up. The film Pearl broke the mold by staring Julia Foray and depicting her entering a bodybuilding competition. That was not the focus, but her past and the son she hardly knew. Television may not have the same track record compared to film, yet muscular women do make appearances. Talks shows being what was called “trash TV” did have female bodybuilders on. Montel Williams, Phil Donahue, Jenny Jones, and Geraldo did this during the 1990s. Responses ranged from fascination, perplexity, or rude interaction. American Gladiators was a popular sports game show, which featured female bodybuilders on a regular basis. That mass exposure probably created more female muscle fans than anyone could imagine. The show produced video games, trading cards, and tee shirts. Iron Beauties takes a reader down a wonderful nostalgia trip with popular entertainment.

Iron Beauties did an excellent job including video games. Electronic entertainment is often misunderstood or ignored entirely. Overtime, it will be given serious academic investigation. Cammy, Chun Li, Zaria and Makoto are just a few video game characters showing powerful physiques. They are central to the stories and have personality. Gamers can also be female muscle fans. Other are not so open to strong female characters that do not fit into a slender body type. Abby Anderson became a subject of controversy based around the size of her biceps. Some claimed Abby was not realistic. These objections may have been few in number, but it shows there are people not open to women looking different. Animation and comics may have more freedom in presenting a muscular physique. Characters such as She-Hulk or Wonder Woman exhibit strength. They are not always depicted as muscular. This depends on the artist as any comic fan would know. Occasionally, in cartoons these characters may be given that design. Anime also has strong heroines such as Mikasa Arman (Attack on Titan ) and Tsubame Kamoi ( Uzamaid ).

A very strong Wonder Woman appearing in a comic.
She-Hulk as she appeared in the Hulk series (1996)
Mikasa training in Attack on Titan (2013 )

More muscular women are present in media than listed in Iron Beauties . This only touches the general surface. Animation is constantly evolving just like other media. It would not be surprising if more animators and cartoonists would experiment with character design. More muscular female cartoon characters would most likely appear in action oriented programs, rather than comedy.

Social media has been added to the family of entertainment platforms. It may be the key to getting muscular women a following. There are some negative consequences depending on how it is used. Could the muscular body type just replace the thin one as another unattainable beauty standard ? Could looking at social media cause more depression about one’s appearance? Iron Beauties does not address this directly. It is too early to tell what impact social media will have in the future. So far Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook allow athletes to have a platform to promote themselves, when the industry does not. Dana Lin Bailey has made a successful career promoting her workouts and fitness apparel. That would not be possible without social media. Now fans can discover women who compete all around the world. Fans may fallow women who are not active competitors, but still train. Women become inspired to go on their own fitness journey. The most important aspect is that the corporate gatekeepers can be circumvented. As long as censorship does not takeover, social media can promote female muscle. Silicon valley has gained more power in a political sense and it seems that the days of a more open and expressive social media could be coming to a close.

Iron Beauties does not avoid the topic of anabolic androgenic steroids. This subject is hard for women and fans to discuss openly. Women are castigated more for use compared for their male counterparts. The sexist double standard makes these criticisms not out of a concern for health, rather based on women’s appearance. Detractors of the sport claim that if it were not for steroid use, the sport would be more popular. That is incorrect, because certain people had a problem with female muscle no matter what. Women who compete in drug tested shows are even ostracized for having muscle. Steroids when used in large doses can cause virilzation in some women. The demand that all women look the same is based in misogynic thought. Strong women constantly hear the insult that they “look like men.” The majority of men are not as developed as these women and that is based on the assumption strength is male only. The objection to muscular women by detractors is that is unnatural and that this is only done by pharmaceutical assistance. Many of the activities people do are not natural. Contraception is not natural nor is medicine. Humanity will continue to alter itself by drugs and genetic engineering. Transhumanism is the wave of the future and there are numerous bioethical considerations. The real controversy is not drug use itself, but why people have an issue with women having control of their own bodies.

Iron Beauties challenges the notion that muscular women cannot be beautiful . There are men who love it and other who remain threatened. The irrational fear that masculine identity will be destroyed or women will use their strength against men seems to be a common theme. What women have done by building such physiques is create a new paradigm of beauty that has not been seem before. Iron Beauties notes that the irony is it still high lights the the female form. Larger glutes and exaggerated legs add to the female aesthetic. The muscular female body makes a new paradigm of beauty combining a strength with a elegance. This may take sometime for people to accept. Female athletes are even criticized for building strong bodies. Serena Williams and Marilyn Okoro have faced body image conformity pressure. Other athletes and coaches were also critical.

Regardless of the constant negativity, the women still march on. Iron Beauties shows that muscular women are not as rare compared to the previous centuries. Strength has become beautiful to some men. This should be no surprise. Power can be erotic; it is only now that physical power is seen as an attractive attribute in women. The idea of waif like and helpless woman may becoming to an end. It takes more than a disruption of the status quo to change society; it takes a revolution. The muscular female body is a symbolic and silent revolution with greater potential. It shows that women can define beauty, power, and femininity on its own terms. Female muscle fans are not liking this solely for sexual reasons. There is a genuine fascination about how this silent revolution will turn out. Iron Beauties does express that overtime there will be acceptance. Suffrage and property ownership were once out of reach for women. The acceptance of the physically powerful woman may be growing thanks to more exposure from the internet and social media platforms. More female muscle fans could exist around the world. There has never been an exact documentation of their numbers. Iron Beauties makes a very perspicacious analysis : ” the hyper muscular female is neither a neon muscle-erotica sign nor the virtuous signpost of feminist resistance, though she can be both.” The muscular woman can have many meanings to various people and groups. What it means in a wider context of sports and women’s history is yet to be seen.

Readers should not skip the appendices. This contains interviews from artists, session wrestlers, muscle worshippers, athletes, and couples. It contains fascinating insights, humor, and new perspectives on the subculture. The authors section is particularly amusing. One story of note by Jack Cratocles describes a situation in which his mother discovered one of his magazines. His mother saw a picture of Shelley Beattie. Jack’s mother confronted him about and he admitted it was “interesting.” My guess is that ma does not want to learn further about what teenage boys do with magazines with women in bikinis. The fact she end the conversation saying “interesting” is comedic. The author’s section also includes wonderful art and writing samples as well. Artists like Tigersan have a produced a prodigious amount of work related to 3D art. Tigersan also works for awefilms.com and krivsstudio.com. The community is more close than one would expect. AtariBoy who is widely known in the world of female muscle art, largely kept his work to himself. The Greyes also add their more candid thoughts. It is very rare that the authors of books like this express an honesty about their motivations and views of the female muscle fandom.

Iron Beauties is a entertaining, insightful, and thought provoking look into the world of female muscle. Only a few monographs and books have covered this subject so thoroughly from the perspective of fans and athletes. The tendency is either to treat the athletes and fandom like some strange or abnormal activity. The mainstream likes to mock or alienate what it does not understand. Video games, role playing games, and different styles of music were treated this way. The moral panic activists and culture warriors normally see something that is different, then make the claim it corrupts society or the youth. The culture warriors relevant to the female muscle fandom see it as corrupting the “natural” order of gender roles. Gender roles emerged from the sociological structure of civilization and society . Women being subordinate or controlled is not natural. Women gaining control of their body is just another extension of expanding freedom. The muscular woman becomes a empowerment statement and a new revolutionary paradigm in this context. Iron Beauties demonstrates that the female muscle fandom is not a passing fad , but a growing phenomenon.


For many women, getting motivated to weight train is easier than ever; after all, there are a wide range of health- and physique-related reasons to pick up the iron. Unfortunately, as women, we just don’t have the level of anabolic hormones in our body that men do, so building muscle is, and probably always will be, more challenging. This does not mean, however, that it’s ! It’s just going to take a strategic approach.

Here to share some of their best tried-and-true muscle-building tips are the fit beauties from NLA. Listen, learn, and grow !

The ' eat no more than absolutely necessary ' approach won’t suffice if you want to add muscle. In fact, figure pro and NLA-sponsored athlete Jessie Hilgenberg says eating enough is one of her top priorities, which is one reason why she leapt at the opportunity to show us what’s in her fridge.

' It’s all about eating to mazout your groupes musculaires, ' she says. ' A lot of us can’t get over that hurdle of gaining force, because we simply aren’t eating enough to support and maintain growth. '

She likes using the IIFYM ( if it fits your macros ) approach, as it allows her to figure out the best formula that fits her body. ' It breaks it down into how much protein, carbs, and fat you should be eating for your activity level, ' Hilgenberg explains, ' and often, it’s more than you think ! '

There’s nothing wrong with full-body workouts. Many women are able to build appreciable bourrinage by training every major muscle group a few times a week, especially when they first start. But if your total-body approach isn’t taking or has plateaued, it might be time to try a body-part split.

This is what finally worked for NLA athlete and bikini competitor Theresa Miller, which is why she advises hitting each main muscle group alone for maximum intensity. ' It’s important to come up with a good weekly training schedule that best suits you and your body type and goals, ' she says. ' I like to devote specific days to focus on certain bourrinage groups such as shoulders, back, and legs. '

There are many ways you can organize your split. For example :

2-4 workouts a week : Push/pull ( squats and pressing motions one day, pulling motions the next ) 2-4 workouts a week : Upper body; lower body3 workouts a week : Legs; push; pull4 workouts a week : Chest and triceps; back and biceps; legs; shoulders and abs

Here’s the catch : These workouts should still be hard ! Embrace the challenge, and find out what #legday is all about. It could be just the thing to take your results to the next level.

When you increase kcal and protein, it can be tempting to up your cardio as well. After all, you don’t want to gain the wrong type of weight, right ? Jessie Hilgenberg says that esprit trap might be just the thing that’s holding you back. ' You don’t need to spend hours doing cardio—especially when you’re looking to add muscle, ' she says.

It can help to think of it this way : Every calorie you burn on the treadmill is one that your body won’t use to build bourrinage. If you’re looking for a challenge to replace all that cardio, Hilgenberg advises hopping into the squat rack and pushing new limits rather than continuing to submit to your old ones.

For NLA athlete and bikini pro Amy Updike, results came when she started really adding weight to the bar. ' I try to lift the heaviest weight I can while still maintaining proper form and reaching the range of 8-12 reps per set, ' she explains. ' Heavier weight for me means the muscle has to grow in order to lift it. '

Don’t expect to get a lot stronger overnight, though. Slowly add weight to the bar, giving your body a chance to rise to the challenge. While you may not add weight to every lift in each workout you do, you should see a gradual upward trend. If it’s been six months and you are still using the same weights, consider this a clear sign that you need a change of approach.

When you’re doing endless reps with tiny light weights, you can get away with sloppy form. That changes once you commit to lifting heavier. Form needs to become a top priority !

' Don’t get sloppy, ' advises Miller. ' Always do slow, controlled movements when hitting each rep. This will help you feel the movement and the burn in the right places.

One great thing about that 8-12 rep range is that it is low enough to help you gain some strength, but high enough that you’ll feel that fondamental mind-muscle connection—the feeling that helps you ensure you’re working the right bourrinage fibers and getting the most from each exercise you do.

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