Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Venus with Biceps; Bea with Biceps; or Vegan with Muscles!

On Monday I went to Loyola Marymount University with Bret. While he was in class I was at the library. I like getting work done at the LMU library because I have no internet there and that means no electronic distractions; however, there is still a huge distraction: BOOKS! I love books and I want to read them all!

As I searched for a desk to work in, I walked down the aisles full of interesting books (about ecology, grad school, writing, Latin American history, psychology, teaching, feminism and so much more...). I was forcing myself not to pick a book up and just sit down and start writing. I felt like a kid at a candy store! Ahhh! :D

I couldn't resist it and I picked up a book that just caught my attention! It was called Venus With Biceps: A Pictorial History of Muscular Women by David L. Chapman and Patricia Vertinsky.


Scanning and looking through the pictures of Venus With Biceps was awesome! Women have been involved in training with weights. building muscle and being strong and fit since forever! (We'll since the early 1900's). But it wasn't until the late 1970's that women's bodybuilding became popular. 
Over the years, women's bodybuilding has transformed drastically. Although it is accepted now in the world of fitness, to this day, it is still rejected by the mainstream culture. How so? Here are some intercepts from David L. Chapman, author of Venus with Biceps that I found very interesting and thought provoking:  
  • "One of the driving forces for a woman to work out is to achieve mastery of one's own body." 
  •  "Is a muscular woman still 'feminine'?  Are developed muscles only a domain of men?"
  • "Physically powerful and heavily muscled women have always been upsetting to the status quo because they reversed the 'natural' dominance of the male."  
  • "Feminists of a certain stripe have also been  deeply mistrustful of overly strong, firmly developed women. They harbor suspicions that female bodybuilders are either beauty queens in disguise or that women physique athletes are simply trying to become alternate and interior versions of men." 
Cameron Diaz has been thought of being 'too muscular'! Check out this video:
"Can a woman's muscles cause her to detract her femine beauty???" Please! Ugh. 

I haven't told you, but lately I've asked myself how a feminist like me could be involved in bodybuilding and bikini competitions? Aren't I subjecting myself to male judgement of the female body? What would other feminists say about women in bodybuilding? Does it empower women, or are they just trying too hard too be strong?

On the question of my competing at three bikini/fitness shows-- some feminists might think I've gotten involved in beauty pageants. My response: Not at all. I've competed against myself only. I competed for many other reasons far from superficial ones (I will discuss this in a future blog).

Check this quote by the book author: "A beauty contestant is thought to be someone who has surrendered to male values; a physique contender, on the other hand is seen to make her own values and dare us to accept her as she is and wants to be."

After discussing my questions with Bret a couple of weeks days ago, I began to build some of my own answers:
1) I just want to be my best-self, the best woman I can be; I wanted to discover my physical and mental potential.
2) I wanted to improve my nutrition, fitness and overall health-- and guess what, competing exposed me to reaching my goals.
3) I like challenging the Hollywood idea that women should "look" a certain way to be sexy; I also like challenging the stereotypical idea that a Latina should be "voluptuous".
Felicia Romero is an IFBB Figure Pro of Mexican background. She has a stellar physique and has muscles that inspire me!

I confess I am intrigued by the philosophy and psychology of feminist women being strong, muscular who walk around the world with confidence. I think it's beautiful and empowering. Venus with Biceps sparked this interest of mine even more and I feel it is worth my time exploring it!



P.S. Here are the goodies I got at the farmer's market last night for just $8.25!:

1 bunch each: parsley, collard greens, rainbow chard, purple kale; 1 persimmon, 2 small avocados and one of the vendors gave me a free ginger root! :)

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