This past weekend an older relative came for a three day visit. In general, I keep my bodybuilding passion to myself. I don’t talk too much about it with people who don’t share the same interest and I don’t display my photos unless it’s specifically a on a bodybuilding forum or on my blogs. I’m not interested in having to explaining myself to people who have no connection with fitness, body sculpting, weight lifting or bodybuilding. Those of us who embrace this lifestyle have a certain orientation toward the display of the body and it differs quite starkly with many outside the fitness circle. This divide was clarified for me yet again when my weekend visitor made a comment about the following photo. She saw it when looking over my shoulder when I was logged on to bodybuilding.com. It happened to be set as my profile photo there.
She asked me some questions about what I was doing and who I was “talking” to.” At some point in the conversation I explained that I liked having a place to post fitness photos especially the patriotic themed ones. She thought that was funny and laughed. She remarked “Patriotic? Is that what you call it? They aren’t looking at it because it’s patriotic. They don’t even notice. They’re looking at your body. I don’t know why you women these days have to show so much.” I explained that I was wearing a standard bikini…the kind you’d see at any pool or beach. She responded with “Well women in my day didn’t show all that. We were modest and didn’t show everything. In my day women were covered.”
I was trying to come up with a meeting point in perspective, familiar ground to show her what an incorrect statement that was. I remembered that she used to tell me about taking her grandson to an airplane museum in the town where she lives. The two of them used to spend countless hours there and I knew she had briefly dated a military pilot about 50 years ago.
I told her in a very gentle way that she was mistaken. I asked her if she had ever seen the pinup art on any of those planes she used to go see. She said she was unfamiliar with it so I pulled up some photos of actresses, pin up girls and airplane nose art for her to look at. I happen to love WWII nose art and spent a lot of time showing her those images.
She was shocked. She said she had never seen those types of things when she was young. I almost didn’t believe that she could be telling me the truth but she seemed entirely sincere. I was satisfied that I’d made my point when she finally admitted that I was right. She could see for herself that there were plenty of images of women in various states of undress around at that juncture in time.
The nose art and military pin up girls were there specifically to amuse, entertain, encourage, and perhaps embolden men in the field I love the images for a variety of reasons but mostly because I find them a lovely example of how one may harness the unique power of women to encourage and bolster the hearts of men. It’s the partnership, the elemental energy, the yin and yang of life playing out on walls, tent canvas and airplane metal.
Even in my modern day bikini I’m more covered than some of the most famous WWII actresses are in their photos and the old school pin up and nose art women. I’m a body sculptor. How would you ever see that if I were completely covered up all the time? A photo in a bikini allows me to show my work. Bodybuilding is creating out of flesh and muscle. In order to show your work you have to reveal your body. It seems so simple to me. It’s not a gratuitous display it’s intrinsic to the art itself. in many cases, that’s just not how the general public sees it. In their minds, showing of the body particularly immortalized in a photo is immodest and a bit suspect. That’s why I keep my bodybuilding pursuits to myself. I don’t have to offer up any explanations to those of you who also embrace this way of life. We see lots of bodies. Nobody in the bodybuilding community is going to get so distracted by a photo of a woman in a bikini that they don’t notice the flags and furthermore we know for darn sure if there are American flags in a picture displayed in that way…it’s a patriotic photo! Incidentally, just yesterday a man named Scott D. sent me a note that said “Looking fit!! Keep on motivating us service-members!!!” Hmmm…Some people may not get it but I’m happy to say that those who are meant to understand, most certainly do.