Ethel. That was the name of my first vein. Yep, I actually named it. I was so proud of that sucker. A little line right across the top of my right delt, that popped out whenever I did shoulder presses. When the one on my left shoulder emerged, it was christened Lucy. Since weightlifters see their bulging veins as evidence of their growing muscles, I wore Ethel & Lucy with pride and all of my weightlifting buddies rejoiced with me.


But not everyone is so keen on the veins. I mean, nobody wants to be this:

But even Angelina Jolie & Madonna, both known for being simultaneously muscular and ultra-sexy, are being called out for having rope-veined arms. And I’ve got to admit, my arms look just like Angelina’s. (Which is the only comparison between her & I you will ever hear me make. Look ma, I got celebrity veins!) Granted, the veins are worse when I’m lifting, dehydrated or clenching my fists. But just sitting here typing, you can’t see them at all. It seems unfair that we chastise women for not looking “toned” but then ridicule the effects of the exercise necessary to get those shapely arms.


So where do they come from, these veins? Because I am apparently not the only person who worries about such things, Scientific American has a very detailed and technical answer. It basically boils down to two things: growing muscle pushes veins closer to the skin and a lack of subcutaneous fat makes them more obvious (which explains why old people have such veiny hands). Bodybuilders have both bulging muscles and a low bodyfat percentage, hence the garden hoses. Genetics are also involved. Scientific American doesn’t address this aspect of it but I’m pretty sure the fish belly color of my skin probably helps the veins pop as well.

My mother, who is a nurse, has her own take on it: “You’re a phlebotomist’s dream come true!” She’s so easy to please.

So how about you guys – any other vein-y folk out there? Do you wear them with pride or hide them away? And how do you feel about women being critiqued for the size of their veins, of all things?

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