Friday, 31 January 2014

Image Removed Copyright Violation

"Image Removed Copy Right Violation" Did you have trouble because of that????? asked a concerned reader just before Christmas, commenting on a post from April 2013, Sarah and Me: At Home With Sarah II, after he noticed all the images originally posted there had been replaced by the copyright violation message.

Did I have trouble because of it?

Well, in the sense it was meant, no. I wasn't contacted by anyone. I wasn't warned or threatened for the use of copyrighted material. The images were there one day and gone the next, removed, I assume, by the image host I had used to upload them.

However, there is a story to it. A story that might be called:
What Happens When People Who Shouldn't Read My Blog Read My Blog.

The story begins at the end of March last year with yours truly posting a week-long tribute to one of my all-time favourite female bodybuilders, Sarah Dunlap. Two of the posts were confessional, explaining how certain images of Sarah had served to trigger a particular fantasy in my imagination, and the specific post At Home With Sarah II placed this fantasy within the context of my fantasies about female bodybuilders in general, and my own personal experience of muscle worship with a martial artist while I was living in Italy in the 1990s.

It's one of my most personal posts, and it is also one of the pieces of writing I am most proud of. As well as that, it's also one my favourites because the feedback I've received about it from readers suggests that it is something that some, if not all, female muscle fans can relate to, and its enduring popularity seems to confirm that.

About a week after it was posted, the number of hits it received went through the roof.

On a normal day, the blog will get about 1,500-2,000 page views. Suddenly, that post alone was getting 500+ hits an hour, and my 'blogger dashboard' told me the source of the hits was a (regular, not a fans of female) bodybuilding forum.

I followed the link back to the forum, where I found a discussion thread about Sarah on which my fantasy woman herself was engaging in the conversation.

At first, I was excited at the thought that Sarah had read the post, perhaps all the posts about her that week. But this excitement quickly turned to horror.

The link to FMS had been posted with a question:

What's the deal with your shmoe's story ??


And Sarah had replied: Who is THIS [writing about me]? WHO are they talking about? I have no shmoe story, except for the one where I laugh...

And it got worse when one of the forum members put up the whole post there.

Sarah: You know what is funny about this? Those photos were taken by Land of Venus. I got put up in a resort in Phoenix for two days, made $2,000 for the shoot (only about 4 hours of photo shoot, but they will never go away!) and now somebody says they were there?

Now I've read and re-read it as a result of this experience, and for the life of me I simply cannot understand why ANYONE whose first language is English (and anyone else with a reasonable command of English) could POSSIBLY think that I was claiming to have had a muscle worship experience with Sarah herself - that I was actually 'there'. But this is what it was clear she (and others) thought I was saying...

Sarah: This is why I never did another shoot for pay like that again. I signed off on it... One shoot in my life I lose rights to, and look what happens? Thanks for the information, will have to send my manager there to flag the content... it's just wrong.

And then the images disappeared to be replaced by...

A few days after the images disappeared I considered deleting the whole post. I even considered deleting the entire blog, albeit briefly. I'm glad I didn't.

In one sense, Sarah was quite right. It is wrong. I often post photos I have no right to post. It's amazing that in the two and a half years FMS has existed that this is the one and only instance of anyone objecting to the use of the images.

On top of that, nor do I have any right to complain that something I wrote and posted on the internet has been misconstrued. I fully understand that he who lives by the blog runs the risk of dying by the blog, as it were!

Perhaps I shouldn't be so sensitive about it. One bad review and look at me, taking up your time moaning away about how misunderstood I am. But you did ask!

I'd like to think I've never had any complaints from the hundreds of other women I've written about, or from the photographers whose work I have praised or used to illustrate my writing, because they understand that FMS is my way of showing my appreciation to them, and that is the spirit in which they take it. I've never been contacted by a photographer directly, and on the rare occasions these wonderful women have got in touch, or mentioned the blog elsewhere, comments have been universally positive, and I am extremely grateful for that.

But most of all, I'm grateful for the fact that creating this blog has put me in touch with other female muscle fans. People I have never met (nor am I likely to ever meet) but who care enough to actually be concerned that I might have got myself into trouble.

People who should read the blog.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Tube of the Week

FMS' favourite elementary school teacher, and one of last year's Abs Queens, Melissa Sarah Wee talks about her journey from bulimic to buff on Singapore TV.

You have to wait until the three-minute mark to get a peak at those delicious abdominals, but meanwhile you can just watch her juicy deltoids ripple with every gesture she makes as she chats to camera.

More seriously, after Suzy Kellner and Lisa Cross, here we are again with another eating disorder conquered via weight training success story. As C. Moore Glootz says, They should make weight training the treatment for it. Put it on the NHS and make the world a better place while saving lives. TRUE!

You can read a more in-depth version of Melissa's story here.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Media Watch

Media Watch is a new series exploring how stories relating to female muscle are reported in the English-speaking world's mainstream media.

Today, a look at Australia (and New Zealand), where, once again, Serena Williams' 'muscular' body was the subject of a little media attention, and this in turn led to much comment and debate about women and muscularity in general during the first week of the recent Australian Open.

We've certainly been here before. As long ago as August 2011, FMS reported that Serena's body had been the subject of some negative media attention in the UK, and the 'debate', as the press would have it, about her being 'too muscular' seems to raise it's head every time one of tennis' Grand Slams are held.

However, this time there was a slightly different slant in the Aussie and Kiwi media.

Why Do We Find Muscular Women So Perplexing? was a typical headline - a story from the Brisbane Times website that appeared almost verbatim two days later on the Otago Times website under the headline Muscularity Challenges Feminine Ideal.

We don’t see many muscular women in popular culture – and the display of much heavier and obviously stronger female bodies can be overwhelming or shocking, began the article. Why are we so afraid of strong, muscular women?

After all, there’s nothing unnatural about a strong and muscular woman. What’s unnatural is preventing and discouraging women from reaching their full physical potential in the name of femininity.

Wait a minute! Swell thought to himself. 'Nothing unnatural about a strong and muscular woman'. Pleasingly, this didn't sound like it was going to be one of those typical mainstream media articles about female muscle.
Dr Jamilla Rosdahl

The author, I noted, was no hack journalist but one Jamilla Rosdahl, a lecturer in Gender Studies at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, and a few clicks later Swell was all over Dr Rosdahl's PhD thesis, entitled Sculpting my Feminist Identity and Body: An Autoethnographic Exploration of Bodysculpting and Poststructuralist Feminist Fieldwork.

It's quite a read.

I beg Dr Rosdahl's forgiveness if I am misrepresenting her work in any way, but in a nutshell, it deals with issues that arose when she took up bodybuilding, or 'bodysculpting' as she calls the figure/fitness side of things. What struck her first of all was how, as a result of her body becoming more muscular, her own 'femininity' started to be questioned by others but also by herself, and at the same time how unfair it seemed to her that while male bodybuilders are in no way judged on their masculinity, female competitors are marked down for not showing enough femininity.

It goes without saying that she explains it better than me, but if you are not as inclined as me to get your teeth into such academia and read her thesis, you can listen to an interview with her on a Brisbane radio station from 2011, when she was still doing her research, here.

And Dr Rosdahl was on Aussie radio again during the Australian Open when she was interviewed for another Brisbane station, 4BC, on 14th January, along with Carole Graham, an IFBB executive and former multiple national champion from way back.
Carole Graham in her pomp, and today

The section of the show that includes their interviews is definitely worth a listen in full (and you can do so here) for a couple of reasons apart from Dr Rosdahl's prescence.

Firstly, there is (to me anyway) the revelation from Carole Graham that the Australian IFBB hold female-only shows. And secondly, there is the attitude of the hosts, partly revealed when Graham mentions one of these shows. To these two radio presenters in Brisbane at least, it's undeniable that women with muscle ARE desired and that, as Carole Graham says earlier in the show, the confidence that stems from being in control of how your body looks attracts many more men.

Carole Graham: ... we've got one coming up on the Gold Coast in March, and you know what? Most of the audience is guys that come along and really respect how the girls train...

Female Host: Oh they don't Carole! Oh grow up! They're not coming for that!

Male Host: That's what we tell you Carole, that's what we tell...

Female Host: They come to drool, that's why they come. They come with their tongues hanging out like Pavlovian dogs!

An academic and two popular radio talk show hosts providing positive media for female muscle, albeit it in very very different ways. It certainly makes a refreshing change from the norm.

And here's the show Carole Graham mentioned. If you're in that part of the world and 'respect how the girls train', why not check it out? You probably won't be alone by all accounts, and FMS would love to hear from any readers who do attend!

Info is available on the IFBB Australia website.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Monday, 27 January 2014

Muscles of the Week: Abs

The only women I've seen with abs along with being dedicated to their workout regime, eat completely clean. No additives, preservatives, no alcohol, like never ever ever. Only whole unprocessed foods, some strictly organic...

One of these women at my gym is in her late 30s and has unbelievable abs, and there's also a trainer at my gym who is 26 and in fantastic shape but lacks definition due to not eating clean (her words). I think the proof is in the (lack of) pudding.
(posted on Calorie Count forum,

I think we can all agree there is a shortage of perfect female abs in the world, so it would be wrong not to celebrate the women whose six-packs make you lick your lips...

This week's Muscles of the Week: the rectus abdominus. 'Abs' to you and me.

Three, and sometimes four, bands of connective tissue called the tendinous intersections traverse the rectus abdominus, which separate it into six or eight distinct muscle bellies, respectively. The appearance of these segments has led to the rectus abdominus also being called the 'six-pack', according to Wikipedia.

And down the middle? Well, that's a band of connective tissue known as the linea alba, or 'white line'. Not the kind of white line that blows away.

Fortunately for us, when her body fat is so low that those six (or eight, as in Oana) muscle bellies get all distinct, she definitely tends to want to show them off...

Here's the beautiful Bella Falconi, her rectus abdominus showing beautiful tendinous intersections and a rather pronounced linea alba. And her dog.

If Bella is new to you, you're welcome but what have you been doing? If she's not, and you want more (and you do, don't you?), check out her website or Instagram.

Ah, yes, the magnificent sub-genre of abs selfies that is the POV...

And the magnificent examples above and below belong to the marvellously named Olivia Vanderslice. Really. That's her name. Now as far as I know 'van der' in Dutch means 'of the', so 'van der slice' could mean something like 'of the cut'! I can't think of a more appropriate name for a woman with such a pronounced rectus abdominus (that linea alba really is something, isn't it?) can you?!

Olivia's on Facebook, as 'dancingdollxoxo', and looks probably a bit too young for a man of my age to be getting worked up about. So, let's move on, shall we?

Back on safer ground with two of the best sets of abs in Europe, FMS Abs Queen Gabriella Bankuti (left) and Italian NABBA legend Federica Ortu (right).

And we stay in Europe to count the hairs along Silvia Sarti's beach-bronzed mid-section. Ready? Uno, due, tre, quattro, cinque, sei, sette, otto, nove, dieci...


More Silvia up close.

And finally today, NPC figure competitor Kylie Marsh, who recently came to the attention of FMS via an interview on the excellent Sexy Female Abs blog. If we haven't sated you with our selection today, you might want to head there next.


Sunday, 26 January 2014

Rosu Watch

Dear reader, I should probably make you aware of a couple of things before you peruse today's post. Firstly, the subject of today's post is NOT a bodybuilder. And apart from having particularly shapely legs that she says are the result of 'two parts genetics and one part healthy lifestyle', she is not what you or I would call 'muscular'.

So began one of FMS' most popular posts of 2013, a post which concerned 'fetish model' Andrea Rosu. The fact that I felt I had to warn readers that I was going to write about a non-bodybuilder is indicative of how surprised I was, and to a certain extent still am, that the post has proved so popular.

It seems I underestimated Ms Rosu's appeal.

Anyway, as a result of the post's popularity, I felt duty-bound to keep a close eye on Andrea's activities, which via her Tumblr, is not an especially taxing job, but while there was plenty of entertaining content as always, it wasn't until the beginning of January that I finally got what I'd been waiting for: muscle worship content.

Just woke up, and felt like it was as good a time as any to flex and take iPhone pics!!! I’m thinkin: I’m going to shoot some muscle worship hotness when I meet up w/my videographer this coming week.

And Swell is thinkin': Oh, I think I know some people who might be interested in that...

Within days Andrea had uploaded a three-parter, which she calls Want to See Why My Body Is So Strong and Tight? Apparently, this is a custom video, requested by a fan. I can’t believe my life, she wrote, someone commissioned me to do something I absolutely love doing!!!

In part 1, according to Andrea, you see how I start my workouts. You get to see the way my body moves while I run, my breath quickening. I also like to stretch and show off my flexibility. All while wearing a tiny little tight outfit. Part 2 is all about the upper body as Andrea works on her arms, shoulders and back. You hear me strain under the intensity, she says, groaning and moaning for more.

And in part 3, it's her best-known feature, her legs, that get the spotlight. I squat, lunge, thrust, and moan! You'll get to see these muscles in action; the definition in my legs; and my tight ass squatting down low. And that's not all. Part 3 closes with a series of pull-ups followed by a nice stretching cool down period.

All good stuff. But only a couple of days later, Andrea was working out for the camera again, and this time, as the title Naked and Sweating suggests, she wasn't even wearing her tiny little tight outfit.

Nothing makes me feel more sexy and energized than when I workout, Andrea writes, especially when in the nude. I'm not hindered by fabric, and I really get to relish in the way my body strains, tenses, releases. Watch me while I do bicep curls, tricep extensions, shoulder lifts, squats, lunges all in the buff. Sweat starts to trickle down between my tits, my breath quickens... can you blame me for working out all the time?!

Now I don't want to overestimate the importance of this little blog, but I can't help wondering whether the previous post about Andrea sent a few muscle worship fans her way and now we're seeing some of the results of that. I wonder...

All these and (of course other) clips of Andrea are available on her Clips4Sale page, appropriately entitled Andrea Rosu's Kinky Explorations.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Isn't It Iconic, Don't You Think?

One of you lovely readers, responding to the Women of the Year 2013 post from just before Christmas, commented that 'that first pic [of Alina Popa] could be iconic'.

For some reason, these words stuck in my head. I looked at the pic again, closely. And, yes, I thought to myself, absolutely, it is, indeed 'iconic'. What bothered me though was why. What makes this image, more than the others of Alina in the post, more than all the other countless images of Alina (excepting a handful perhaps), 'iconic' exactly? What, precisely, is an 'iconic' image?

The first port of call was the dictionary, which defined 'iconic' as relating to or of the nature of an icon. OK... So let's look up 'icon' then: 1. An image; a representation. 2. An important and enduring symbol. 3. One who is the object of great attention and devotion; an idol. 4. Computer Science A picture on a screen that represents a specific file, directory, window, option, or program.

Alina is many things, but she's definitely not meaning number four. The other three though, all seemed to fit. But although I felt I now had a better handle on the meaning of the word 'iconic', I still wasn't really any clearer on what makes an 'iconic image'.

I dug a bit deeper.

What I found was that it is generally agreed that to be 'iconic', an image has come to have a symbolic meaning that is readily understood. The image causes people to think about what it represents, rather than what it is. So, when you see Che Guevara, it's violent revolution. Gandhi, and it's peaceful revolution. Einstein with his tongue sticking out is madness and genius in the same place. The Stars and Stripes is whatever the USA means to you. In religion, there's the cross, the crescent, the star of David...

I see...

But now I had a new doubt nagging away at me. Just for the sake of argument, let's say the image of Alina represents something like 'the beauty and strength of the muscular woman'. Well, then isn't it the case that any image of Alina does the same? Isn't it the case then that any image of any muscular woman represents the same thing?

The answer is obviously 'No'. So I'm back to square 1, not really any clearer on why this image strikes us as 'iconic' while others don't. I decided to take a different approach, starting with the image itself. I looked at Chris Zimmerman's image of Alina again (hard though looking at Alina so much was, I really had the bit between my teeth now...)

What I came up with was: 1. It's an image of a woman who, by general consensus is something approaching the epitome of a female bodybuilder, and what's more, she's in absolutely prime condition; 2. The subject, though a female bodybuilder, is not hitting any conventional bodybuilding pose, nor is she wearing the conventional 'uniform' of a female bodybuilder - the posing suit; 3. Zimmerman's style is, it seems to me, (and I say this with no specialised knowledge of photography at all, so I may be completely wrong) all his own - nobody shoots these women quite like he does.

OK, now to test the theory!

1. Does the female bodybuilder in the image have to be at the top of the sport, and does she have to be in prime condition?

When I thought about other iconic images of female bodybuilders, these two sprang to mind immediately. I imagine Bev Francis and her most muscular in her orange posing suit at her biggest and best seems to answer the question in the affirmative. This image of Kim Chizevsky will, I imagine, be a little more controversial, but to me, this is the image of Kim. I don't know why I associate this pose and the black posing suit with her more than any other of the FBB 'icons', but I do.

Having dealt with one era of female bodybuilding, I moved on to Lenda Murray. Choosing one image of her as iconic was, I found, much more challenging because there were so many more candidates. Nevertheless, as I searched through my (not inconsiderable) Lenda archive, for me, this image stood out.

Who else? I thought. Iris, sure, but it's hardly the case that only Ms Olympias or should-have-been Ms Olympias can qualify as icons. I doubt I'll get too much stick if I say I think the two images below are iconic, and Cathey Palyo and Melinda McNabb never came anywhere near being crowned Ms Olympia.

And so I broadened the search to two of my all-time favourites, and, as with Lenda, found myself struggling to find the defining iconic image of either of them!

With Denise Hoshor, I found I could narrow it down to one set of photos, but when trying to pick one from the set as the iconic image of Denise, it proved impossible. And furthermore, as with Lenda, I was aware that other fans might well put forward other sets or shots of Denise as more apt to represent her at her iconic best.

With another of my all-time favourites, Gina Davis, I couldn't even narrow it down to a single set. There are so many top top photos of Gina (I looked at so many goodies while I was trying to choose I did begin to wonder if there was a bad photo of her out there) that the best I could do was make a short list that never got any shorter than the wonderful images below.

So confused had I become that I'd forgotten what the immediate question had been!

Ah! Does the female bodybuilder have to be at her peak and at the top of her sport? From the selection above, I could only surmise the answer was 'yes... maybe'. Bev was a yes, as was Kim. Lenda, it seems to me, had a few peaks at least, and in my iconic image of her, 'The Naked Sleeping Lenda', she certainly wasn't in her contest prime. Neither Palyo nor McNabb were ever at the 'top' of female bodybuilding and in the image I selected Palyo wasn't in prime condition, McNabb absolutely was.

What about the second conclusion I'd drawn from Zimmerman's Alina pic, the point about her not being in a posing suit and not hitting a regulation pose? Again, you can see that, based on the above selections the answer was a rather unsatisfactory 'sometimes, but not always'.


Perhaps the third point would prove more fruitful, the point about Zimmerman's style? I perused his Facebook offerings and other pictures of his in my collection. I had to agree with his assertion that he can 'light the shit out of muscular women'. His style is certainly unique among FBB photographers, and there are many many fantastic shots among his body of work.

Are there some female muscle photographers more iconic in their style than others?

Bill Dobbins sprang to mind immediately. Like the image of Bev Francis' most muscular above, one other image I am absolutely certain no one will argue is iconic is the one that adorns the cover of his finest achievement, The Women: Photographs of the Top Female Bodybuilders.

Yes! I thought. Dobbins and Zimmerman, photographers with an 'iconic style', photographers who, through their work, create the iconography of female muscle...

Perhaps there is something there, but at the same time I was sure that it was Women's Physique World that had given us more iconic images than any other source, and neither Dobbins nor Zimmerman had anything to do with that. In fact, I realised that images I would call iconic had been made by a wide variety of photographers and in a wide variety of styles. Square 1 again!

Have you reached any conclusions at all?! I hear you cry.

Well, yes. Sort of. Just bear with me...

The fact that Bill Dobbins' image of Nikki Fuller was a cover made me wonder if that was something that could make an image more likely to become iconic.

Check out these ones of Diana Dennis and Juliette Bergaman...

They're familiar, aren't they?

Well maybe, just maybe, that's because both of them were WPW covers...

And the other thing that did occur to me was that so many of the images I thought of when I tried to conjure up 'iconic images' in my mind were images I had first seen in the magazines in my early female muscle lovin' years. Perhaps it is the case that an image from those days when there were so many fewer images around is so much more likely to be thought of as 'iconic' because almost all female muscle heads of the same generation had almost identical experiences of first seeing them?

Having said that though (he said, indicating the imminent arrival of another unsatisfying conclusion), as with Chris Zimmerman's image of Alina, there are, it seems to me anyway, images that, as the reader who started this whole sorry thought process off said 'could be iconic' being produced now.
Cindy's glistening abs; Anne Freitas' freaky 'Christmas tree'
Gabriela Bankuti by Zoltan Vegh of Fitness Exposure (now there's another female muscle photographer with an 'iconic style'...)

Sorry I haven't really got to the bottom of anything. It might have something to do with the goddess being photographed, the point she's at in her career or her conditioning. It might have something to do with the pose or lack of it, and/or what she's wearing (or not wearing). It might have something to do with the style of the photographer, or how old the image is, or when and where you first came across it...

Perhaps the only conclusion I can reach is that you know an iconic image when you see one! But even so, they are GREAT pictures, aren't they?!

Man, you're probably saying to yourself, this guy has far too much time on his hands! Well, in my defence, I was on holiday. But, yes, OK, I should probably go and get something to eat now.

Enjoy! And I'd love to hear what you think the 'iconic images' of female bodybuilding are. Comment box or, as always.