Ask A Woman: Women on Muscles. When does it get weird?
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I recently got into serious weightlifting and when I talk to people about what my goals are, namely to dead lift and squat at least 400 pounds some day, guys are usually all for it. But some women have told me that big men, to them, are gross. I’m not going for battle-tank sized world’s strongest man with lots of fat, but a defined guy who’s deceptively strong and healthy as all get out. I feel like women appreciate a guy who takes care of himself and can take care of her. Maybe that’s a bit misogynistic, I don’t know. I also realize being too large can come off as intimidating. So my question is, how big is too big for a muscular guy?
What an interesting email, thanks for writing in. There are lots of cultural layers here; let’s peel them back, shall we?
First off, I’m sure there will be more than enough women who will enjoy the sight of your chiseled physique. Women, like men, have all different tastes when it comes to what is attractive. Some women like gorilla juiceheads; some women like waifish vampires; some women like a little pudding in the middle. So will all women be attracted to big muscles? No, but a decent-sized segment of the population does go gaga for a built chest (clearly a few of your female acquaintances are not these people).
Incidentally, have you ever heard the theory that women get dressed up not for men, but for other women? The idea is that women spend a lot of time and money on hair and makeup and clothing. You’d think that a heterosexual women would go to all this trouble to look appealing to men, but what we’re really doing is trying to impress or intimidate other women. I think this same theory applies to men in the gym.
Men might say they lift to look good to potential mates, but most women don’t have any idea what it means to be able to squat 400 pounds, and we don’t care. That number ends up being something you can say to other men, or you can show to other men in the gym. Obviously we notice if a man is built or not, but when it comes down to specifics, we’re not really paying attention. Sometimes I’m with a guy friend and we’ll pass what I perceive to be a ripped man, and my friend will mutter something about “beach muscles,” as in muscles that are mainly for show but don’t make you strong. Well, could’ve fooled me.
So…do women like strong men because they want to be taken care of? Hmm. There’s a Sex and the City episode (I can hear you groaning at home, but cut me some slack, you’re lucky this is the first SATC reference here at AAW) where Charlotte says that women are attracted to firefighters because women just want to be rescued. Carrie, Samantha, and Miranda look like they’re about to freak out on her, but then they sort of pause and wonder if that could be true. I had the exact same reaction to your comment–what the hell kind of question—wait a minute…the truth is, I don’t know. I’m a tall lady, so when a large man hugs me and makes me feel petite (and yes, safe), I sort of swoon. On the other hand, I’m independent and capable, and there aren’t many times I feel like I need someone to take my hand and lead me through. My best guess is that women will either be attracted or not to your size, and if they are, they won’t stop to think that it’s because you could protect them in a bar fight.
I think some women see a large man and feel some measure of intimidation, yes. It’s a natural reaction–you’re huge and we’re not and evolutionarily speaking, we should probably run and hide in a space you’re too big to grab us from. I don’t think a reasonable woman would refuse to talk to a big guy, so that’s when you prove you’re a sweet, smart guy who just happens to love to work out.
Hey Kris! Which way to the gun show?
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