Marcie Simmons produced this video a year ago discussing the fetish of lift and carry.There are many reasons why men and women would find this activity arousing or attractive . This fetish involves a person doing various carries of another individual. There is a connection with cartolagnia and stenolgania, but this fetish could be classified as something different. Marcie speaks about this more from a personal perspective and her experiences. Being an athlete herself and a part of the bodybuilding subculture, this provides a rare glimpse from a woman’s perspective. Sometimes this is not sexual in nature as Marcie states. It could just be ludicrous fun. This may be a strange form of entertainment, but amusing to some. The biggest mystery is why does this arouse some individuals ? It could be that some are exposed to certain things in youth that mold their predilections or tastes as an adult. There is something unique about a physically strong woman, which may add to this attraction. Then it has to be realized that their is an element of sexual expression. Society ignores and tries to repress that people have different ways of expressing themselves sexually. Other than the more taboo element, these acts seem to be more entertainment based.
Marcie explains that women physically lifting men up can be comedic. She did this to a man in her gym and posted it on Facebook. The reason was just to entertain viewers. The internet has created the age of instant entertainment. Videos that are unedited and raw can be spread rapidly. Marcie says that there are different cases of who is carried in videos. This could be a woman carrying a man or woman carrying another woman. The woman carrying a man seems to be the most popular type of video. This fetish is not exclusive to men, but women also have it.
This is entertaining mainly because it is rare that a woman is physically capable of lifting up a full grown man. Fireman’s carries, piggy back rides, over head lifts, and calf raises the strong women perform to the amazement of many. Although wrestling is not a part of this fetish that provides a level of humor. A woman dominating a man on a physical level is a event that does not happen everyday and the fact even large men can be woman handled becomes a viral video.Marcie posted such a video showing her lifting a man with minimal effort. It seems to bring grown men and women back to a time of early childhood play. At this stage it is fine for boys and girls to engage in physical play together. When children mature into adulthood such play or simple fun is no longer acceptable. When strong women lift and wrestle men it takes them back to those carefree days.
There is little time or acceptance for adults engaging in enjoyable activity. The responsibilities of adulthood demand that work comes first and fun second. This almost becomes more of a stress reducing activity. Work or family may cause distress, which may explain why men seeking such fetish sessions. Men are under more stress and pressure from society to either be leaders or pillars of the community. There is little room or outlets for emotional catharsis. Men have to in a stereotypical fashion, not express and emotion or vulnerable state. This creates a level of mental distress or lugubriousness. Men going to sessions who are married may do this to have the stress of life be gone for a period of time. Other men may like the idea that a woman can challenge and defeat them on a physical level. The session may actually be more of a workout session testing both participants athletic skills. Men who go to sessions come from all walks of life and some are former athletes themselves. They are impressed that women can give them that challenge. Simultaneously, it is possible they like that their are women who have an intense interest in fitness and sports. Lift and carry is not entirely sexual. It is a type of entertainment to a section of followers. There are whole websites now devoted to lift and carry solely. Also in a similar fashion there are websites devoted to scissor holds alone. Then the majority is mixed wrestling. While there is multiple demonstrations of strength feats, including arm wrestling , wrestling holds, or others some prefer just one.
The fetish seems more complicated than previously thought. Classification is important to understanding this sexual fetish. While it could be said there is a general fetish for women of strong and muscular bodies, there is one for women who are just strong. They may not have muscle, but are physically capable of doing strength feats. It seems more important to the lover of lift and carry strength has value rather than the look of muscles. The rise of websites devoted to this shows that their is an entertainment value to this. It is however, still underground and part of the fitness subculture.
Human sexuality is both biologically and culturally based. There is also a psychological element to this. Human beings exhibit a level of sexual expression in their preferences in terms of beauty and sexual behavior. Lift and carry as Marcie Simmons reveals could be a form of role play. Role play used in the context of sexual behavior refers to practices two individuals do prior to intercourse. This is done to fulfill a sexual fantasy. Relevant to this context, there are men who love the idea of strong women. Marcie explains that there are a portion of men who like the idea of being rendered helpless when confronted with a strong woman’s physical might. Women might also get a level of arousal from the fact they can overpower a man. Women may experience psychologically a new sense of power and control that rarely have in their lives. Roles are in a sense briefly reversed with women taking a dominating status. May be it is not so much being made weak and helpless, but acting out a role play fantasy. Some men who engage in session report loving the concept of female hero. The muscular woman almost embodies these qualities and this could be from a person’s childhood.
There could be men who were as children and saw a muscular woman in real life or in a form a entertainment which sparked this interest. It could have been watching a sporting event or reading a comic which featured women with powerful physiques.Comic book characters like Wonder Woman or professional women wrestlers on television may generate interests. There may be some contact with a tomboy in a man’s childhood, that created a fond memory. Sigmund Freud believed that sex was a large motivator for human action. While it may be a part of it, that is not all as he assumed. Some of his theories of course are questionable. According to surveys by sexologists and psychologists more men may like foreplay than women. This may cause frustration in women who rather get directly to the point copulation. These activities between two people never follow a linear path. Foreplay and the cat could happen in random order depending on the situation. It should be noted that role play differs from foreplay. Role play involves the people in question acting out a particular fantasy or scenario. Session wrestlers may act as bully or hero depending on what a client wants. The sexual arousal comes from the feelings of being astounded that a woman can do such feats. However this is also a arousal from women who may physically struggle to lift a man. It is not so much that they are successful in the feat, but rather showing exertion.
This also explains why some who love lift and carry are also impressed by women of slim body types who can lift them. The fact they can do that with little effort, but not look like they could creates a feeling of magnificent wonder. Marcie Simmons articulates that this is not a psychological problem. It would not be classified a paraphilia either. This is just a a sexual fetish and another way in which people express their sexuality. This may also as Marcie explains why people consume pornography. When asked many would say they do not watch or consume such material simply out of embarrassment. Yet, it could be an outlet of sexual expression for some people. Such taboos relate to people being afraid of sex and sexuality. This reveals why some deny that their are multiple sexual orientations or that urges are biologically based. Such extreme though also harms public health by either eliminating sex education form public school curriculum. Having knowledge about the human body and its function is neither inappropriate or immoral as religious fundamentalist claim. Culturally, there has been a liberation in the West known as the sexual revolution. Contraception, sex positive feminism, and the acceptance different sexual orientations were a product of that. Women had more rights and control of their bodies than in previous centuries. Humanity has reached a point in which sexual behavior is being accepted and openly discussed more so than ever before. The word fetish will someday will not have a negative connotation.
The muscular woman and athletic woman is unique in many regards. the idea of strong and woman are still opposite concepts to many. It has become a new form of beauty to devotees and followers. This is a revolution that few realize is happening. There has not been a point in human history in which women have developed themselves physically to such a high level. Muscular women did exist prior to modern sports, but the women of today surpass them. This has become another paradigm of beauty. Traditionally, the image beauty for women in the 20th century was slender and to an extent some shape. Celebrities and models such as Lena Horne or Marlin Monroe emphasized such a body image.
When women got involved in professional sports a new form of body image emerged. There was no longer a concern of fitting a particular standard of beauty. Women began choosing it for themselves. There are women who love the look of a muscular physique and diligently work to attain such a body. Power is in both a mental and physical sense is an attractive element. Power from women was at one time believed to be unfeminine, but attitudes are gradually shifting. Physical power in women is still criticized by the wider society. A woman can be strong,but looking strong generates ostracism. Claims of being “too big” or “unladylike” are constant dated and subtlety sexist beliefs that are propagated. The muscular woman is no different from other women, yet they are rare. The average woman do not have such immense physical strength. This demonstrates why some may either be shocked or repudiate such a woman of a certain physicality. It may not be something they are used to. Those who embrace the look think seek out women like this.
Lift and carry from this stand point could be some men embracing women’s new found power in terms of strength. While it is okay that women can show physical skill to an extent showing large muscles still seems to frighten or disgust others. This is not repulsive, just women who are different from what society thinks they should be. The image of the passive, frail, weak, and scared female has become a anachronistic stereotype. However, there still is a strong emphasis on gender roles. Men and women are forced to con form to these unwritten rules. This sessions of lift and carry some what overturn these rules by doing role reversals. Women during these sessions have in a way become in charge, while the man gives away some of his power.
There could be more to it than just reversal of power relations. The thrill of seeing a unique type of woman up close could just be another dynamic. The only time fans of muscular and strong women may see them is through images, TV, or websites. Actually witnessing something is different from a mere record.Seeing a muscular woman in person could be just that awe inspiring to a fan. From this perspective it may not have to be either roles whether submissive or dominant. It could just be seeing an interesting person for the first time. Looking at lift and carry in narrow terms of submission and domination may be ignoring other factors. This could just reinforce sexist prejudices or ideas. The assumption that if it involves men and women doing an activity together it must be automatically sexual is false. Sessions rarely involve sexual exchange, but that does not mean it has not happened in some cases. This is a subculture that has developed and it is still evolving. The arousal comes from numerous factors which include past experiences in youth, personal preference, and environment. There are obvious biological reasons for sexual response. Lift and carry is one of many fetishes that both men and women have. It can hardly be described as being abnormal.
It is commonly believed that women cannot build muscle. This does not seem to be accurate when examining the matter for an exercise physiology perspective. Women can in fact build muscle, because muscular hypertrophy does operate in the same manner in the female body. The level compared to men would be less in relation to size. There is a fear that some women have of “bulking up.” This term bulking also is not accurate either. The word bulky can be defined as ” taking up much space typically inconveniently” or ” a person that is heavily built.” This description could be used for various body types if applying these definitions. A person who is overweight could be bulky according to that definition. The best terminology would be muscle mass gains. It seems what is bulky can vary depending on what a person’s aesthetic preferences are. The term bulky just like the term tone has limited scientific basis. These terms are either used to deter or encourage women specifically in their fitness goals. There is a taboo against women with muscular or strong looking bodies. Ideas about women’s physical capabilities are still based on dated notions that the female body was not designed for strength or endurance. Popular fitness literature states that women cannot “bulk up” through heavy weight lifting. Basically this is saying that women cannot build muscle. Fitness literature does correctly state the health benefits, but denigrates the muscular look on women. The ability to gain muscles mass does not only depend on sex, but factors such as body type, genetics, exercise regimen, and age are also factors.
Muscular hypertrophy is the process in which skeletal muscle will increase in size including the associated cells. This does not only increase muscle mass, but the cross sectional area. Individual muscle fibers increase in size. Cardiac muscle can even adapt to increased work load. The heart can become more efficient at squeezing blood out of the chambers of the heart and the skeletal muscle can push more force through the tendons of the body. Skeletal muscle must contract to produce body movement, but also functions in maintaining body posture. When doing progressive overload intermittent levels of stress is applied to the skeletal muscle. This allows for the muscle to adjust for the enlargement and amount of contractile proteins. This effects the myofibrils in each muscle fiber.
Women have the same muscles as men. Anatomically and physiologically the muscular system of women is similar to that of males. To understand the nature of muscular hypertrophy one must examine satellite cells, growth factor proteins, and immune system responses. The satellite cells are responsible for repair of damaged skeletal muscle tissue and they are facilitators of growth. Their location is on the surface of the muscle fiber between the sarcolema and basal lamina.
These cells contain one nucleus which has most of the cell volume. They are only activated in the case of injury or trauma. Resistance training only cause some micro-trauma. The daughter cells respond, while there is an increase in satellite cells. The daughter cells merge to the damage site. This results in the increase in myosin and actin proteins. Simultaneously the daughter cells will donate nuclei. Muscular hypertrophy can be induced by high intensity anaerobic resistance training. The changes it causes result in neural adaptations, muscular endurance, and strength. The total amount of satellite cells differs depending on the type of muscle fiber. Oxidative fibers have at least six times the satellite cells. These muscle fibers are in use more frequently. They have an are larger blood and capillary supply which explains this function. This physiological process is the same for people, but potential varies when considering other factors. The initial fitness level and natural strength capacity are critical. People of ectomorphic body types will struggle to build muscle, while mesomorphic bodies can easily gain. Endomorphic body types would benefit in terms of weight loss, because muscle burns fat. This means that women can vary in the level of muscular gains they can make depending at their starting point before hypertrophy.
Somatotype plays a major role in physical fitness potential in terms of muscular gains. Proteins actually have the ability to govern growth rates.
Growth factors include hormones and cytokines. Growth factors maintain division and various characteristics form the original cell, which are acquired . This process is known as differentiation . The major growth factors of skeletal hypertrophy include insulin growth factor, fibroblast growth factor, and heptocyte growth factor. Insulin growth factor regulates protein synthesis including insulin metabolism. This growth factor appears in two forms which include IGF I and IGF II. IGF I must proliferate the cells as well as cause differentiation IGF II must spread the satellite cells. IGF responds to progressive overload during resistance exercise causing it to increase in level.
Fibroblast growth factor is present in the skeletal muscle. FGF has nine forms, but only five cause the proliferation and the differentiation of satellite cells. The amount of fibroblast growth factor is proportional to the degree of trauma or injury. Hepatocyte growth factor has numerous cellular functions and is also a cytokine. The role of HGF is to get the satellite cells to migrate to the areas of trauma. Besides cytokines, the endocrine system and hormones also contribute to the growth of muscle.
The endocrine system has the function of directing hormones in the body. Hormones are a group of chemicals, which are designed to regulate activities in organs or cells through out the body. Hormone function can be effected by nutritional status, food consumption, and lifestyle factors. Life style factors include stress, amount of sleep or rest, and general state of health.Testosterone is an androgen that also contributes to muscular hypertrophy. The sex hormone is produced more in males which effects the nervous system, skeletal muscle, bone marrow, skin, hair and sex organs. Women produce more estrogen, which effects the body composition to produce more fat. The endocrine system contains ovaries in women which is responsible for the ripening of eggs and the thickening of the uterine wall. The reason men find it easier to build muscle or lose weight is because they are producing more androgens in the testes. Testosterone has anabolic effects on the body and can generate more protein synthesis. This explains why it is harder for women to build mass. Even when the training regimen is the same for both sexes male absolute strength is higher.
However, it is not the total amount of testosterone in the body. The amount of free testosterone that is not bounded in the body. As confusing as this can be it explains that a woman who trains can be stronger than a man, even though their is a hormonal difference. Hormones are not the only factor involved in muscular hypertrophy. It should also be understood that other hormones such as growth hormone and cortisol contribute to the endocrine elements. Growth hormone is classified as a peptide, which causes stimulation in IGF. It has been suggested that GH is more responsible for enforcing connective tissues. Growth hormone also needs to be involved in the process of activation, proliferation, and differentiation. Cortisol is categorized as steroid hormone, produced in the adrenal cortex and kidney. This stress hormone causes gluconeogenesis. The process allow for formation of glucose from other areas such as amino acids and free fatty acids. Cortisol has the ability to stop the use of glucose by cells of the body. Protein catabolism can be caused by this, which allows amino acids to focus on more protein production. If this process happens too much it can inhibit skeletal muscular hypertrophy. Steroid hormones are critical because they have a nucleus than can transport through the cell membrane without a receptor.
The endocrine system is a combination of glandular tissues and glands within organs that manipulate hormones to regulate the body. The endocrine system and the interactions of hormones do plat a role in muscular hypertrophy. These hormone interactions are complex and simply saying women cannot achieve muscle gain would be incorrect. Testosterone does provide an advantage, but IGF and GH add to the anabolic role to compensate for lower levels in women. Estrogen may also be helpful in some regards. Studies have shown that estrogen can aid in muscle repair and may have the ability to protect joints and bones from injury. Estrogen and testosterone are both important to the health of the human body.
Women have the same muscle fibers. There is a belief that there are “men’s muscles” and “women’s muscles.” The force than can be produced from muscle fiber is dependent on size and particular composition. Slow twitch and fast twitch fibers are different in terms of metabolism, contractile velocity, neuromuscular activity, glycogen stores, and capillary density. They do respond differently to hypertrophy. The fast twitch type II fibers are capable of more force production. Type IIa fibers are oxidative glycolytic fibers, which can be a combination of type I and IIb fibers. They need both need anaerobic and oxidative metabolism to support contraction. This type of fiber can be the product of both endurance training and resistance training. Type IIb fibers have the ability to convert into type IIa fibers. Fast twitch glycolytic fibers require anaerobic metabolism for energy needs. Contraction in this circumstance requires an amount of glycolytic enzymes. The reason this type of fiber generates more force is due to the enhanced size of the nerve body, axon , and the muscle fiber. The conduction of velocity of alpha motor nerves becomes higher, while simultaneously causing more of a response in terms action potential. Although this type of muscle fiber has more power, it has less long term endurance.
Kazakhstan’s Maiya Maneza competes during the 2011 World Weightlifting Championships’ finals in the 63 kg women’s weight class on November 8, 2011 in Chessy, eastern suburb of Paris. AFP PHOTO / BERTRAND GUAY (Photo credit should read BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)
Depending on the sport there are muscle fibers that are more helpful than others. Fast twitch fibers would be more helpful for weightlifting and slow twitch would be useful in running. The slow twitch muscle oxidative muscle fibers contribute to maintaining skeletal support and body posture. These fibers have more endurance and can generate tension for longer time periods. Slow twitch fibers have the ability to use fats and carbohydrates better compared to fast twitch fibers. The require less excitement for the sake of muscular contraction. The explanation is that oxidative metabolism provides an efficient means of breaking down fuels from energy with the help of oxygen. Type I fibers can grow with progressive overload including resistance training. Aerobic exercise to a small extent can cause hypertrophy in type I fibers. There is no difference in structure and physiology of the muscular system of women. Men have can develop larger muscles in terms of total body composition. Muscular development comes from a training regimen and the result of that particular stimuli.
The type of exercise and training method also influences how women gain mass. There are numerous types of exercise. Weight training is the most effective method to building muscle mass. cardio vascular exercise, while still good for health will not cause mass gains. This is also true of aerobics, which does not aid in significant strength increases.
Women either avoid weights for fear they will “bulk.” Basically, it is a fear of becoming muscular, which is very possible. Looking like a professional athlete or female bodybuilder takes decades to achieve. Thinking that such strength and power can be acquired with minimal effort is ludicrous. Such athletes have a genetic advantage unique to their physiology, a strict diet, and train over a number of the years. Some athletes resort to performance enhancing drug use to reach fitness or performance targets. There still is a huge amount of cultural bias against women who do not fit a societal body image paradigm. Women have various body types and the ability to enhance physical fitness capacity. There still continue to myths about women’s bodies that were based on 19th century eugenics and pseudoscience. The female body was thought to be too weak for vigorous activity and exercising would cause infertility in women. These concepts have been disproved, but research is still needed in terms of training of the female athlete. Exercise physiology has not examined female athletes as much as men, so it still may be a mystery about women’s total physical fitness capacity. This makes it more difficult to figure out what is the best training method for women. There are two factions that emerge in this debate. The first claims women should not train like men and the other advocates similar methods between the sexes. The one reason some argue women should not train like men is due to endocrinology. Estrogen can help women recover faster from training and reduces fatigue. Women would need more isolation work in the upper body to gain strength in that section of the body. Adding muscle to the upper body would be the most challenging element, which means there may need to be adjustments in exercises. When women do bench presses they use more of their triceps compared to their shoulders and back. Seeing as women are closer to men in lower body strength, they respond just as well to a mix of high volume and high intensity squats.
Woman bench pressing weights with assistance of trainer
Other advocates say that women should follow the exact same regimen as men. That means lifting heavy and doing this at high intensity. Both positions have their well argued positions, but may be there are some deeper considerations. The choice may not be either selection, rather a combination of both methods. Individuals vary in somatotype and this will effect on the results of training stimuli. The only way to find out the best training program is to determine your body type and experiment with a regimen. The only practical way would be to document or record changes to see if it is fully effective. Training should be tailored to the physical characteristics and attributes of an individual.
Nutrition and diet are also critical to building muscle mass. For women, this becomes more complicated due to differences in how food is metabolized. If one is to consume more calories activity level should be high enough to utilize them or else it could become extra fat stores. An active woman should consume close to 2,400 calories per day to maintain mass. A diet should consist of protein and carbohydrates. Protein is required for muscle growth and repair. Foods that should be consumed for required carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. It is best to consume carbohydrates prior to and after workout sessions. This diet must be consistent to be effective in producing results. This may be the mot challenging aspect, other than the training itself. Dietary proteins can be found in meat, chicken, fish, eggs,whey, and dairy products. There is another limitation here in terms of knowledge. It is not entirely clear how much protein an active sportswoman should consume. The recommended suggestion is 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This may require a level of modification. Besides food, there are supplements that can gain in strength and muscle mass gain. Creatine has been shown to be very helpful with women in their training regimens. Supplements and diet can allow women to build muscle mass.
Genetics plays a role in how muscular a person can get. There is not one gene responsible for a single attribute, but a combination of genes. Eye color can be affected by 15 different genes. A gene is a single unit of DNA required to form a protein. They consist of sections of DNA that code for all the amino acids of a particular protein. Lengths of DNA are referred to as introns and exons, which transcribe to form immature mRNA.
The mRNA has sections that are made from introns, which will be removed. After the removal the mature mRNA will remain for the purpose of translation. Regulatory DNA sequences code for their own proteins and this affects the gene transcription rate. Introns can be sliced out, leaving the exon section. That remaining section will allow for protein production. Relevant to muscular hypertrophy, the MSTN gene plays a significant role. This gene provides directions to the protein myostatin. Myostatin is part of the transforming growth factor beta super family. This protein is active before and after birth and is found mostly in the skeletal muscles. It has the function of regulating muscle growth. Athletes with low myosatin could therefore find it easier to build muscle compared with individuals with higher levels. The often used phrase ” they have great genetics” actually does have credibility. A natural physique suited to a particular sport does provide an edge in certain competitions. Genes are not a compete explanation either. Organisms interact with their environments and it can also influence biological states. There could be an athlete with great potential, but they do not work as hard. There could be women of high potential that do not have the opportunity to enhance physical skills.
Humanity is a combination of genes and environment. Muscular potential from a genetic standpoint is inherited to a degree. Whether it can be extended further is determined by dedication, access to certain facilities, and nutrition. As science continues to uncover the nature of the human genome and gene interactions, there still are unanswered questions.
Age also does play a role in how much mass can be gained. The muscular system like other organ systems is effected by senescence. The aging process changes the skeletal and muscular system at different stages at life. Girls during puberty attain their full natural skeletal and muscle mass growth faster than boys. The growth process for most people ends by age 25. Men may be slower to grow, but when it is done they are taller and have more total body mass. Muscles can change depending on use and level of exercise. Muscle will reach its full potential in size, strength, and contraction rate by the mid-20s of the human life cycle. When the muscular peak reaches a certain level, it will decline with age. Body fat will increase throughout life. Muscles by middle age become weaker and stiffer, which can affect voluntary and automatic body movements. Bones have a more difficult time with reconstruction, leaving people more vulnerable to osteoporosis. Age causes muscle mass reduction. Between the ages of 45 to 70 muscle strength declines about one third. However, exercise can prevent muscle mass and bone loss.
Linda Wood Hoyte started to compete in her 30s and in her 70s still has a good physique.
Load bearing exercises can build strength and bone mass. Besides those benefits, it might also aid in keeping a healthy circulatory system and controlling blood pressure. It is true it would be difficult for an older person to build muscle, but not impossible. Doctors once believed that the elderly should not engage in vigorous exercise,because it could be too much for them. Seniors should be physically and mentally active to improve the quality of life. Seniors can see an increase in strength and bone mass.
When examining these factors the question becomes to what extent are women’s capabilities? Growth rate in muscle gain for women does not differ. Women respond to training stimuli, but the difference is starting point. Men will appear that they grow more, because they have more lean body mass to start with. This may not be the case , because appearances can be deceiving, without precise measurement. Studies conducted show that women can enhance their physical fitness over a number of weeks.
Women seem to see higher percentage increases. This does not mean they go beyond men in absolute strength, rather they gain more because the have less natural strength to begin with. It seems that women have more endurance than men when doing an exercise session. Studies suggest women can utilize fuel reserves better and are less reliant on carbohydrates during training regimens. Women can burn more body fat relative to their size. Understanding these biological and physiological differences can contribute to making a training program more effective.
There still is unscientific and incorrect ideas about women gaining mass. Some of these views are simple misconceptions. The term “bulky” is nothing more than a colloquial term that does not accurately describe the athletic or muscular female body. The athletic female body can come in numerous forms being either smaller or larger.
Ole Miss Track and Field in the SEC Championships in Columbia, SC on May12th, 2017. Photos by Petre Thomas/ Ole Miss Athletics
Their bodies look a particular way depending on which sport they compete in. A gymnast will not have a body of a weightlifter. A track and field athlete will not have a body like a swimmer’s. Women are still scrutinized more about appearance and body image. Even athletes have to be subject to such ridicule and derision. The irrational fear about becoming “too big” or looking “mannish” still plagues women in sports and fitness. The fitness industry promotes mostly weight loss plans to women, rather than programs that enhance physical conditioning. There are guarantees of “you can never bulk up from weight training” or “its simply impossible for women to build muscle.” There is a bias against women of different sizes. Muscular women or physically strong women face these biases. Critics either call it unnatural or unattractive. Most of these sexist claims are based on pseudoscience from 19th century Victorian Age medicine. Women were thought to have naturally frail bodies and rigorous exercise could harm their health. At this time, women’s sole purpose in the eyes of Victorian society was to direct all her energy to childbirth. Getting an education, working, or doing physical activity would according to medical professionals would take away body energy for childbirth. This was false, but these myths were designed to control women’s bodies and deny them reproductive rights. Women developing their bodies to the highest physical condition has become a major statement about what a woman can be and achieve. Although the concept of female biological inferiority has been proved false, prejudice remains.
The women that are commonly referred to as “bulky” are female bodybuilders. This should be interpreted from a point of height and weight differences. The women who appear on stage are not as large as they seem. During contests their body weight is lower depending on what weight class. The off season is a rest period in which body fat levels will go back up. The stage body is different from the out of contest body. Fat levels are low to show as much definition and vascularity as possible. This condition can only be maintained for a short period of time. When body fat levels get too low it can cause problems for the cell membranes. Specific to women it can cause issues with the menstrual cycle. That is why competitors do not remain in contest shape year long.
A combination of tans and low body fat produce a body uniquely sculpted. The look is different from any other female athlete. Depending on the category, muscularity, size, definition, and conditioning vary. There are numerous weight and height classes in the physique, bodybuilding, figure, fitness, and bikini classes. These women sculpt their bodies to a particular aesthetic. Bodies can either be lithe with some muscle, a middle range, or the hypermuscular version. While to an extent their is a level of acceptance of some muscle on the female body, there remains a bias in sports and in the whole of the fitness industry. Most fitness magazines for women encourage diets and weight loss rather than specific exercise programs. The fitness industry even blamed female bodybuilders and weightlifters for making women fearful of lifting weights. This is not true, because many publications promoted the thin body as an image of health and beauty. They were the first women to lift and spread this activity. The industry they contributed to now wants to disown them. There is a change with a the rise of crossfit and more women wanting to use weight rooms in their local gyms.
Seeing women in other sports the spectrum is much bigger. On average women are shorter than men and adding muscle to a smaller frame makes it seem as if they are gigantic. Women of this physique are often criticized as being as large as men, but this is not necessarily true. As revealed previously men have more muscle mass and larger skeletal frames. Also depending on which man you are comparing a muscular woman to she may obviously be bigger. Somatotypes vary between men and women. Comparing a muscular woman to a thin man, she would obviously look bigger. Men with endomorphic body types would be larger in terms of total body mass. The mesomorph however would be larger than most women depending on their height and weight.
Obese man at 400lbs – front
The one who would be considered bulky according to the denotation of the word would not be the muscular woman.
Terms like bulky and toned are gender based fitness constructions. The only utility it serves is to present what types of bodies are acceptable to a dominant cultural perspective. The another myth that needs to be challenged is that some how muscles turn into fat when training or competition ends. Muscle only goes through atrophy meaning they decrease in size. Hypertrophy as discussed earlier is the opposite of this process. Maintaining a muscular physique requires high calorie consumption. Women have to work harder to achieve higher physical fitness levels. Looking like a bodybuilder or fitness model take an enormous effort. For the average non-athlete, how one looks could be completely random. The fitness industry tries to present a claim everyone will look a particular way after a training regimen, but this has no scientific basis. Their main purpose is to sell a training program, not realistic expectations.
There are women who think touch a heavy weight will make them a Lenda Murray and the others who think they can look like a smaller fitness model. It is clear that these women are professional athletes who have talent and genetics to produce such appearances. The diligence and number of years required would certainly deter a majority of people. Women who see some muscle develop and do not want it become fearful that it is permanent. Obviously it is not. The body does change when exercise is either stopped completely or adjusted depending on goals. Muscle atrophy when it happens in women may theoretically go at a faster rate, due to body composition. Former competitors are not as large as they were when in contest. That is because the body is no longer being challenged by exercise stimuli. The only way excessive weight gain happens is when calorie consumption is still high, but physical activity level is still low.
The photographs above show former competitors Dawn Riehl and Laura Creavalle in their post athletic career stage. Their muscles did not transform into fat, they merely shrank in size compared to when they were competition. The general public has a weak comprehension of science, especially the anatomy and physiology of their own bodies. Having a grasp of basic exercise physiology would make many understand why bulky is really not a precise term to describe a muscular body.
The term as one can see is relative to a perspective of an individual.Another aspect that should be realized is that the claim women with muscle look like men is false. Simply having muscle does not make women look like men. This is distorted logic, because it assumes that all men have physiques that are like men on the cover of fitness magazines. Another problem is that it ignores the fact that women’s muscular systems can be developed through training. The only reason a woman would exhibit male secondary sex characteristics is from long term anabolic androgenic steroid abuse. This type of performance enhancing drug alters the endocrine system, which can enhance strength and aid in workout recovery. Virilization and other negative health consequences can be a result of use depending on the type of steroid, dosage, and length of use. However, it should not be assumed that all muscular people are on some drug. Training and diet are more effective in comparison. Drugs will not produce a quality athlete if training and diet are inadequate. Women do have the ability to build muscle mass depending on age, type of exercise, somatotype, and genetics. While much has been discovered, there could be more to learn about the full extent of female muscular physiology.
Parker, Steve. The Human Body Book. New York: DK Publishing,2013.
There are mass gaps in pay in professional sports. Basketball, soccer, and tennis are bot extremely pronounced. This documentary exposes the economic inequality and sexism plaguing the sports world. There are solutions to these problems. Improving attendance to matches, having more media coverage, and women forming their own organizations could be possible solutions. Simply not making demands will not advance anything. There also needs to be a paradigm shift in attitudes regarding women. Women in sports are either trivialized as not being serious athletes or being less capable. Sexualization has been a problem with the media focusing on women’s appearance rather than their talents. Only when the corporate gatekeeper culture and media control is challenged can the condition of women in sports can improve.
This segment from Russia Today exposes the often sexist treatment women face in sports. While men’s teams normally get invited to the White House, while women’s teams on rare occasions do. There is also structural challenges. There are no professional leagues for women’s baseball or American football. These are the team sports which get much attention and commercial investment. Then there are those on the extreme end of the spectrum that say women should not play sports, because they were designed for men. James Preacher a religious fundamentalist believes that women should not be involved based on scripture. Such archaic ideas are still prevalent. There is a level of misogyny that has been a part of the sports world and women’s entry as professional athletes has not erased it. Only when women become owners of teams, develop their more organizations, and challenge the pay gap can women reach equality in sport.