I was recently fortunate enough to go to the Olympia Competition in Las Vegas. This is the Superbowl of bodybuilding competitions – it takes the world’s greatest bodybuilders and puts all of them onstage together to see who is the best of the best. These athletes are the epitome of hard work and dedication. It made me realize the true source of beauty, and of finding beauty in your passion. I am going to give a real quick recap of the Olympia, and move on to what beauty actually is.
I attended the Friday night portion of the competition, which included the Bikini, Fitness, and Ms. Olympia finals, as well as the Mr. Olympia prejudging.
The Bikini Olympia is the lightest women’s figure category. The bikini category looks for lean and firm physique and “competitors are scored on proportion, symmetry, balance, shape and skin tone.1”
Ashley Kaltwasser took home the title of Ms. Bikini Olympia for the second year in a row2
The Fitness Olympia is a two round event: swimsuit and routine. Physique guidelines for fitness competitions typically suggest a small amount of muscular mass, clear separations between muscle groups (but no visible striations3), and leanness. The swimsuit must cover at least fifty percent of the gluteus maximus muscle; no thongs or G-strings are allowed. The routine round, on the other hand, requires a physically active stage performance. Most competitors attempt aerobic,dance, and/or gymnastic routines. This year’s winner was Oksana Grishina4.
The two main bodybuilding events – Ms. & Mr. Olympia – are last. These events are judged on size, symmetry, definition, proportionality, and posing. This is what most people think of when they hear the word “bodybuilding.” Here are this year’s winners, Iris Kyle and Phil Heath!5
I’m giving you all of this information because these athletes are examples of what the human body is capable of accomplishing. They test the limits of size, strength, low body fat percentage, and muscle definition. Olympians push the limits of their physical bodies in the same way as LeBron James or Michael Phelps.
Now, we’ve covered the Olympia part. Now you might be asking yourself, “what does this have to do with beauty?”
Well, during the competition, the people I was with were making comments about how the women look like men, how the men were just too big, and how both were disgusting. In fact, when I posted the above Phil Heath picture to Facebook, one of my friends asked why anyone would want to do that to themselves.
It was clear that no one in my company found the Olympian women to be sexually attractive, and couldn’t imagine how women would find the men sexually attractive. However, the audience was filled with people who looked very similar to those on stage. There were very muscular and large people, both men and women alike – and I saw very few singles! This tells me that there are people that find this body type sexually attractive. Sexual attractiveness is not really the beauty I wanted to address, but it is important to note that not everyone is disgusted by muscular physiques.
What I want to address is that there were men and women on that stage who pushed their bodies to the limit and had the mindset and determination to accomplish their goals. THAT, my friends, is beautiful. The people on stage didn’t care if someone said they couldn’t do it. They didn’t care if people watching thought they were disgusting or unattractive. Instead, they pushed and pushed and put everything they had into their goals. Frankly, having the commitment and follow-through to push yourself further and harder than you ever have before is frakkin hot, and every competitor at the Olympia was beautiful! It was inspiring to see what they had accomplished.
Here is my real world example of this: I have a friend who has always hated herself because she isn’t what pop culture says is attractive. While she has had her own struggles to work through, that’s not the point today . The point is that we were chatting after her recent surgery. She told me about how proud she was that she didn’t need the nurses or physical therapists to help her move around because she had developed so much strength before surgery through her newfound passion for weight training. Weight training made her feel good about herself in a way that simply losing weight and being thinner could not.
I brought up the idea that she should get into powerlifting after her recovery. I saw it building off her already-awesome internal and external strength. With her dedication, she could be an amazing competitor, even as just a hobby! I knew it would show her a definition of beauty most may not have known before, and a definition of beauty that she would recognize within herself. I have been to a powerlifting competition before and the athletes are incredible, powerful, strong, beautiful, women.
So that’s what I’m telling you today. If you have something in your life that makes you feel amazing about yourself, find a way to expand on it! If you love philosophizing and you can recite Nietzsche, find a meetup.com group and be the best philosopher you can be. You love comic books? Start cosplaying! Like arguing with everyone you meet? Join a debate group! Find what you love and realize that there is beauty in that. Realize that your passion and desire makes you beautiful. Finally, if you are having trouble finding something, drop me a line, send me an email, leave a comment, we’ll figure it out together!
2. Thanks to Around The NPC & IFBB with JM Manion for the photo! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Around-The-NPC-IFBB-with-JM-Manion/270961692921971
3. Muscle Striations – The clinical definition is muscle tissue that is marked by transverse dark and light bands, is made up of elongated usually multinucleated fibers, and includes skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle, and most muscle of arthropods — compare smooth muscle, voluntary muscle. For the sake of this post, Seeing all those little separate muscles that make up the bigger muscles…i.e. being able to see all the separate, individual bicep muscles that make up the bicep.
4. Thanks to Oksana Grishina for the photo. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Oksana-Grishina/155213884513220
5. Thank you to me for taking the photos.