Celebrating the Body

I spent Saturday night staring at a bunch of half-naked men

By the end of Saturday night I jumped rows to get a better view of a guy's amazing...uh, lats

Where to begin? While driving to see my first bodybuilding competition yesterday evening, I passed a Hooters and started to worry. What if the people who buy tickets to such events are there simply to ogle, and what if the events themselves exist for the ogling? Once the bikini division had sashayed away, the figure competitors waddled off in their five-inch heels, and the fitness models revealed their amazing wax jobs completed their cartwheels, the bodybuilders came on stage and I understood what was going on.

A celebration of the body. Permission to linger over these well-oiled (yes) machines, carriers --and, often, cause--of our hopes, dreams, and insecurities.

Like beautiful ballet...danced to Metallica.

Beauty arrives in this context when genetics meets discipline. Nearly any healthy person with somewhat symmetrical form can, with a strong drive, do well at this sport; no particular skills are needed. By celebrating the body at these events, we honor discipline and self-control. It might look like the big bodybuilder polished off one of the smaller, bantam weight competitors for lunch, but really he's been restricting himself to asparagus and chicken breasts for a long, long time, all the while wanting to empty a keg into glassfuls rather than carry it around for a good workout.

Extreme diet x intense workouts = most muscles showing = best body. Beauty is reduced to an equation, for starters. Many of the competitors weren't conventionally-beautiful people, but symmetry and well-defined muscles can aesthetically please to the point of accomplishing beauty, so to speak. I had to wonder how many of them had entered the sport for just this reason--to defy nature by improving on it (this was a natural, drug-tested competition, by the way). Having recently attended my 20th high school reunion, I can understand the inclination.

All that said, the people who tried too hard--were too orange, were looking like they'd explode while holding poses--usually didn't win. Those who were comfortable with themselves on stage--and were well-defined, of course--did well. They were fun to watch, too. In the end, people are more than the sum of their parts, and even bodybuilding competitions seem to recognize that.

This guy had the crowd eating out of his tanned hand. I love how they oohed and aahed with his every move at the beginning and what he does when he turns around



  2. You're going Roman on me, aren't you. Next thing we all know, you'll be a sculptor.

  3. I must be blind - I don't get what's happening when he turns around?!!


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