Female Muscle Growth (FMG)

Female muscle growth (FMG) refers to a fetish art genre, which involves women developing muscles and strength. It can extended beyond just art renditions, but can be displayed in other forms of entertainment in television, movies, and printed materials. It is difficult to determine just when this genre of fetish art emerged. It is possible it has links to the rise of session wrestling among female bodybuilding circles. The people involved in this element of the subculture seemed to develop a creative and obvious erotic need to create these artworks. Some themes are common to the atmosphere. The female muscle growth stories either feature mixed wrestling, strength feats, and powerful women with enormous muscles. The only time this art could be seen was in special interest magazines or some underground female bodybuilding magazines. The rise of the internet created a boom in the development and prevalence of this female muscle growth and art. It can easily be accessed by websites and search engines. Although thought to be erotic solely, that is not always the case. FMG  can happen in mainstream entertainment, without being specifically lascivious. There are some clues from the past to the origin of this art form born out of cartolagnia and sthenolagnia.

          Orrin Jesse Heller was a photographer in the 20th century. He had a love of the female athlete and muscular women in particular. As a child he witnessed a  carnival act involving a strong woman performing feats of strength. Heller then proceeded to collect and produce photos of women athletes and muscular women from the 1930s and 1980s. Decades he collected also film which he shot which included Pudgy Stockton and Relma Brewer. Heller was in a way a historian of female muscle and strength prior to the rise of modern female bodybuilding. Based in the United States Heller went to circuses, vaudeville houses,  and professional wrestling events to film and photograph strong women. He not only collected images of real life figures, but cartoons from comics and other printed materials. While comic book characters such as Wonder Woman and Batman are immortalized in pop culture  other cartoon characters become part of history.

A comic series known as Crimes of Women  ran in the 1940s. It featured female criminals fighting cops and law men in a standard comic book tradition. A one shot character known as Madame Muscle mad an appearance in 1949 and her physique resembles that of Pudgy Stockton. Hardly remembered today, accept by hard core comic book fans this is a rare example of a woman displaying a powerful physique. This comic and character is part of the Heller collection, which is on LH-Art. This cannot be described as female muscle growth, but it at least has the appearance of a muscular woman. Heller’s collection does reveal that the muscular woman at least in comic book format and in real life is not a recent phenomenon. There was also another comic book character known as Daffy. She only appeared in the 1940s as well and was a circus strong woman who used her strength to defeat criminals. The character appeared in Smash Comics and had a strong looking physique.

 The decade also saw the appearance of Wonder Woman, a character that has lasted since 1941. While she was not depicted as muscular as these lesser known characters, her strength feats and fights were predominantly featured. She possesses super human strength and trained as a warrior. The fascinating part of these few characters is that they could be harbingers to female muscle growth. Although there is no depiction of growth occurring in these comics, it can be considered early female muscle art.


Heller’s collection provides some clue to the emergence of this art genre that would later evolve into something more expansive. These materials are works of fiction, but maybe it was based of of certain people that artists saw. Many think that the muscular woman is a new phenomenon, but as we can see from the collection they have been around for a while. Today, they are more visible and the art depicting them is becoming visible as well.

          It becomes increasingly obvious that there would not be female muscle growth and female muscle art without the rise of women’s bodybuilding and fitness. It was the 1970s that saw the rise of modern women’s bodybuilding. There had been muscular women present, but they never had an outlet to present their impressive bodies and athletic talents. From 1979  to the present categories expanded to include fitness, figure, bikini  and physique. Each has a varying degree of muscular development and fitness. Fans formed a subculture around the sport. It is known there is a schmoe culture that involves sessions, photo shoots,  and signed memorabilia. This produced an artistic dimension with female muscle growth. Fans with the love of drawing and art began producing comics in female bodybuilding magazines. A majority of the time these would be written stories about muscular women written by fans, that contained illustrations.





These artistic depictions were just another way of fans showing their appreciation for the muscular female aesthetic. This art was not mainstream considering it was circulated only among the subculture. As personal computers became more widely available, this provided more exposure. The establishment of websites, blogs, forums, and chat rooms  also fans to connect with one another and share their art. During the 1980s female muscle art was circulated through magazines. At the end of the 20th century it could found easily on the internet. Athletes and fans used the internet to keep the sport alive, even  when corporate gatekeepers were losing interest. The 2000s saw a decline in women’s fitness sport, but it seems as if there is a slight revival from the physique division and more websites featuring athletes. Some of the art does not solely just depict muscle growth, but mixed wrestling. This topic reappears in female muscle art and female muscle growth. It is clear it has an innuendo based on  fetishes of cartolagnia and sthenolagnia. Feats of strength and muscle induce arousal in men and that is an element of female muscle art.



It seems that these visual materials also are a record of the subculture. Similar to how paleolithic humanity produced cave paintings, they describe activity without words. If written material were to be destroyed in some form of civilization collapse, art would probably be the only clue that the sport existed. May be when civilization collapses in the distant future, this could be left to archaeologists to examine a small sport. The appearance of female muscle growth is directly interconnected to the rise of female bodybuilding.

       Female muscle growth has distinct attributes. The story lines usually follow  a similar pattern. It features a woman either of average build or physically weak either being transformed by scientific, magical, or other means. The woman can either be an antagonist or a protagonist  in the story. Most of the time the story depicts a woman using her new found physical power against a man whether she is an antagonist or a protagonist . There are also instances in which the cast of characters is all female and women are fighting one another. There are other cases in which muscle growth can happen the regular way : depicting a woman lifting weights. The stories do not contain complex plots, but depending on the artist they do go into some detail.

268a7986e4ca134fbc4588f3e934019f  David C. Matthews a well known figure in the female muscle art genre produces comics online that are primarily FMG. His comics are not brief panels, but continuing stories. They are designed in the traditional format of a standard comic book. His characters Dyna the Damsel Dynamo and Tetsuko  are his mots popular creations. Matthews’ other ones are still notable and he continues to update though comics as well. His Satin Steel comic is unique because now it focuses on a female bodybuilder going through the challenge of competition. Before, the character went on more outrageous adventures in the same vain as the obscure Daffy character from Smash Comics. These comics and stories are more intricate.

This is an example of a more simple FMG story.
Unlike the example above women in these stories get their super human strength from other means.

The art styles can vary as well. The depictions of women are either more cartoon like or more realistic in terms of body depiction. The decision is really that of the artist on how large he wants to depict a muscular woman. Renditions can range from a standard athletic physique to a muscular one far beyond human physiological capability. The reason muscles do not increase in size exponentially is because myostatin regulates muscular hypertrophy. Human Incredible Hulks do not exist for that reason, but in this art form characters are not bound by biology or physics. Characters can be so muscular that they become giants. There is also the giantess genre which overlaps with female muscle growth . Artists sometimes combine the two in their works and stories. However, the two are not the same in terms of definition and content. Just like trying to distinguish the difference between mixed and session wrestling, there are specific elements that do not make female muscle growth the same as female muscle art.

             Female muscle growth depicts a genre of fetish art. Female muscle art is more expansive in the sense it just presents the muscular female form in an drawn, painted, or CGI format. Female muscle growth can fall under this classification, but in a more specific manner related to the subculture of female bodybuilding fans. The range of female muscle art focuses on cartoon characters and real life individuals. Popular subjects can be fan art of comic book and cartoon characters.

  The comic book characters that are favorite subjects for art usually tend to be Wonder Woman, She-Hulk, and Power Girl. Usually these characters are depicted as athletic looking in their comic books, so this should be no surprise in this genre of underground art. Computer generated imagery has had a massive impact on special effects and all forms of technology. The influence can even be seen in female muscle art. When personal computers became more common in the 1990s this was a launching point. As polygon subdivision software became more advanced artists could produce another form of art.

 The CGI can be so close to looking real it is amazing. Video game consoles like Playstation 4  and Xbox continue to use CGI and computer graphics to produce wonderful games. Female muscle artists also use various programs to make art of athletic women. Cartoon characters that are displayed can be from any genre either action or comedy. Artists give their favorite female characters muscles that they may not even have in the shows they watch.

 Female characters  who could be from any genre of animation ( comedy, action, or adult animation) are given a muscular physique in fan art. Some even make references to particular episodes in which a female character becomes muscular. These one shot episodes of a series have a special place for fans of muscular women. Marge Simpson has even been a subject for female muscle growth art. Simpsons fans and fans of female muscle have over the years produced tons of fan art. Lois Griffin even appears with muscle on some fan art sites.

Deviantart. com is a website that has been around since 2000. Various artists both professional and amateur present their work. It has allowed for a community who enjoy female muscle growth and artwork  to connect with one another. Thousands of works and artists have emerged. These works can either be female muscle growth or just depictions of muscular women. The distinctions can be blurred or ambiguous.

            Every artist has a motivation when producing art. The motivation that is present here is the desire to present the muscular female frame as one form of beauty. The classical art works and the renaissance that resurrected the style had versions of body ideals. Statues of men were either depicted as muscular, while the female form in art was shown as softer and more voluptuous. The female athletic form was never really depicted. Michelangelo was known to depict women with muscular women in his works. Scholars have theorized that the reason women appeared really muscular in the works is because male models were used. This was because it was difficult to get women to pose nude for artworks. However, it may not be so far fetched that muscular women were present and could have been used as models. This seems speculative or unlikely. Some make the claim the women depicted Michelangelo’s sculptures and paintings are “masculine.” It could be that he was presenting a new body ideal of beauty in regards to the female form. The idea that these are “men with breasts” may just be modern day scholars projecting gender norm conformity. Many people cannot accept that women can be strong or have muscle. The Michelangelo “masculine woman” theory seems to have sexist overtones.

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It could be that Michelangelo was thinking about muscular women as one model of female beauty. The traditional female model appears also in his works. Normally, they were slender and small in frame. The fact they one does not predominate shows he may have like to display different types of people to distinguish himself from his contemporaries. His motivation could be he loved the aesthetic of the muscular human form. Liking a style or form is part of what motivates artists to produce this type of work. This explains some experimentation in modern art with different uses of material and presentation.

As many observers have shown art can be a depiction of life or an exaggeration of it. Cartoons are the extreme part of exaggeration in terms of design. The motive with female muscle art is displaying a new paradigm of beauty.

         This is an unexplored area of investigation. What can be gathered from little evidence is that this genre of art and female muscle growth originated from earlier sources. It as hypothesized could have branched out from earlier comics. The athletic figures that appear in this media may have been an inspiration. There is little evidence that muscular women appear in artworks with the exception of Michelangelo. Women with muscular bodies have existed, but it is a modern phenomenon that some want to develop it to the maximum. Women are now participating in most sports. The muscular woman has become more visible. The female bodybuilding subculture can be documented through these artworks. Female muscle growth is not mainstream, because it is a fetish genre. It appeals to men who love the appearance of a muscular or strong woman. The rise of the internet saw an immense expansion of it. There is an erotic element to art. cratolagnia and sthenolgania are the reasons for the appearance in FMG. As women’s participation in athletic activities and strength training increase it may come a time when its not seen as bizarre by the general public.

Female Muscle Growth (FMG)

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