Two women, dressed in bikinis, stand on a stage. One woman’s muscles bulge from every part of her body. The other is voluptuous with a perfect hourglass figure and a fat gluteus maximus. The first woman is a bodybuilder, flexing, flaunting, and celebrating her body for an audience. The second woman is a video vixen, also parading and celebrating her body. Similar in wardrobe and performance, these women’s bodies are the center of their careers. Yet, the commoditization of black female bodies remains a controversial topic. While the video vixen would receive the cast of shame for promoting her figure for profit, the bodybuilder gets a clean pass for doing the same, simply because she’s in the fitness industry. It’s the same for high fashion models using their figures for profit. Why do certain women receive callous judgment for pursuing careers centered on their bodies?

Bodybuilders train for years to get their bodies in shape for competitions. It’s a combination of strict workout regimens and diets that create muscular hypertrophy. Each contestant is judged on a stage by a panel of judges while flexing, entertaining, and showing off their bodies for an audience. Although black women are a minority in the sport, they do exist and make careers out of competing. Surprisingly, this career decision is rarely met with complaints that echo the politics of respectability, unlike video vixens. Perhaps, black female bodybuilders are less threatening because they are muscular and thus, desexualized according to mainstream desirability. Muscular is connotative to masculine and therefore, unattractive in the context of the female body. But truthfully, bodybuilding competitions and the performances of video vixens have remarkable similarities. Simply put, one is considered sexier than the other because video vixen bodies are more desirable by mainstream standards.

While it may surprise most, video vixens also train to stay in shape and preserve their hourglass figures. Of course, some indulge in plastic surgery, as do bodybuilders, but regardless, it takes effort to maintain a video vixen’s body. These women also flaunt and entertain for a living on stages and in front of cameras. However, this work is met with extreme disdain because of the politics of respectability that consume the black community. It is not “respectable” to be black, female, voluptuous, and sexy on a stage for profit, but it is perfectly acceptable to be black, female, muscular, and “unsexy.”

Is this double standard acceptable? Is one profession truly more sexualized than the other? Speak on it.

 

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15 Comments

  1. This is ridiculous! Body building is not as overtly sexual as video “vixens”. The “workout” to maintain the natural assets for a video hottie is not the same as crafting your body for bodybuilding. Performing in a video to the delight of the male artist is mostly for money, notoreity and possible opportunites in the entertainment industry. Most bodybuilders will never receive as high as a celebrity status. Also, bodybuilders are strong and physically intimidating. You will never find anyone as intimidated by a big ass and a pretty face in a video. You can say the video vixen makes an effort for her craft, but let’s not kid ourselves and say it’s the same thing.

  2. I don’t think there is a double standard. If there is a double standard, I don’t see it. I’m having a hard time comparing the bodies. Could be my male private parts talking but I just can’t imagine the hype over a body builder. I know. Shame!

    I love my video vixens :D

  3. I’m pondering female masculinity vs. female femininity. The former being more respectable than the latter because, well, it’s masculine. There’s always some sort of shame associated with being feminine, particularly when it’s hyper-sexualized. Sex + Femininity = Bad; Sex + Masculinity = Good.

    Thoughts…

  4. I most certainly believe that the money the video vixens are getting and the crowd they are staging for makes a huge difference in the way they are looked at. As a man a very curvy beautiful woman can be just as intimidating as a muscular woman even more so because of what she represents. They both are just trying to make it in a society that values looks and money above all. A woman who shakes her assets to a song about cars, clothes and choking the block has a certain image she is representing and I think thats were the criticism comes from. Would you want your daughter bouncing her but and getting twenty tattoos before she is twenty. What we should be looking at is who is behind the exploitation of these young women who is telling society this is cool on television and in the magazines certain people read. The media is not telling these women to get ahead using quailties other than their bodies so they really are victims. Some women become well known and rich some get into porn and some die in alleys from overdoses and we never hear about them. Lets educate our youth!!!

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  6. Clearly, the women bodybuilders are not bumping and grinding on some man in a car, or in an alley or around a pool! They are not gyrating, dropping it like it hot or having milk poured all over them. Both wear very scanty clothing, both parade around all oiled up but it is the forum in which they are doing it that differentiates the levels of respectability.

  7. This article holds no water whatsoever. Erica and others have already echoed my sentiments. How do you even compare the two? The kind of effort, determination, motivation it takes to get to the place some of these bodybuilders do in order to compete or for the sake of fitness can never be compared with shaking your booty or showcasing what your momma gave you in some video for cash. Really Frugivore?

  8. So… shaking your butt is less respectable than injecting your muscles with hormones to make them bigger? GTFOH.

    I personally get the author’s point. Showing your body is showing body. Period. Point blank.

    Nowadays, video models barely dance (or “gyrate”, as some of you have said) anymore. They just pose and look all up in the camera. And the only time they’re in bikinis is if the song they’re modeling for is released in the summer or takes place on a beach. If anything, you see them dolled up in designers or something of the like. So, how would you compare video modeling then, if the video model has more clothes on than the bodybuilder?

    Oh, let me see. If the model doesn’t make you jealous or your member erect, then she’s OK. But if she does, throw stones! *smh* Get it together, people.

  9. Why is it white people don’t have a problem with video vixens but blacks do? Van Halen, Guns n’ Roses and Anthrax…all had video chicks and no one said nuffin’. Soon as a sistah shakes her azz…all hell breaks loose. I see why it is more profitable to sel to the masses than black folks. Ya’ll just too complex with too many issues. FIrst of all it is not enough sistahs in the damn gym to do a real comparison. Video ladys…..stop this vixen madness…..have an age limit b4 all that donkey booty turns to mush whereas black body builders never really retire cause they stay in great shape.

  10. Arielle,

    I think you are on to something here, but I also think that you do yourself a disservice by framing this as a binary. What would have been interesting would have been adding Sarah Baartman to your images because it historicizes how people have made money off of Black women’s bodies.

    I have always respected the Vixen’s hustle. That shit takes work. They are also the people who earn the least in the rap music video eco-system, AND they are the most necessary piece/element of many rap music videos. I’ve been saying since ’06 that the vixens need a union, but that is a whole other conversation.

    You are on to something when you talk about the body builders and the vixens and the sexual nature of the display; Black women who are muscular are read as being men.

    #interestingpost.

  11. It is a similar comparison, but to agree with what was said above, the bodybuilder works out for an audience who is judging the quality and technique of the model, as opposed to a “video vixen” who works it for the male fans (and fantasies). There is no judging, just role playing/dancing

    One of the major differences between the two is that it is not possible to enter female bodybuilding without being qualified. You cannot just saw up off the street and compete with established models. Unfortunately, that is very possible with video vixens. Any attractive girl (or stripper, as that has been the case) can walk on set and take a job away from a talented veteran, which is why the industry as it were, has gone down, and the stigma attached to the ladies as “video hoes.”

    Are there female bodybuilders who may sleep with judges or promoters to get ahead? probably. But they don’t talk. Rappers and entourages do, which is why the rumors become more popular than the video girls themselves.

    All of this brings down the value and perception of professionalism that any of these women have had.

  12. I don’t think there is any comparison between a video vixen and a fitness competitor. A fitness competitor or body builder conditions, trains, diets and works out to build a beautiful physic it’s a sport. A video vixen disrespects herself and acts like a whor*e for men for profit. It’s ridiculous watching videos with men fully clothed while the women are all practically naked. I’ve been stopped and asked in the past to model for videos and I said H*ELL NO! Unless I’m fully clothed and the men are naked feeding me grapes and I still get paid! Totally different.

  13. it is not the same, first off yes there are SOME women who do inject steroids BUT there area HUGE number of them who dont inject which is really what causes the MANLY LOOK… regardless, the main difference which so many have said previously is the fact that the vixen is blatantly disrespected in most videos, calling them b*tches and ho*s talking about how they ran a train on them or make them dance for “BANDZ”… you gotta wonder what goes on behind the scenes on some of those videos… if i ever have a daughter you can best believe that she will know that she is worth more than some money some cat is gonna throw at her for a piece of her treasure… thats sickening to me its basically condoning prostitution! AS A MAN I HAVE MORE RESPECT FOR A WOMAN THAN TO SEE HER BELITTLED AND HUMILIATED IN A VIDEO!

  14. This is an interesting article, but to be the devil’s advocate do you or say, the average women view a stripper and a male bodybuilder in the same light-particularly a male bodybuilder in a fitness competition. As a female, I don’t.

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