I love, love, love this book! Venus with Biceps: A Pictorial History of Muscular Women is one of the very few books I’ve bought in the past year in paper rather than on my Kindle.
“Venus with Biceps is an illustrated history of muscular women over the course of more than 100 years. It features a wealth of photographs, posters, line drawings, magazine covers, and film stills documenting the image of the strong, healthy female—an object of fascination, derision, amusement, and fetishization, depending on the era. Unlike their male counterparts, muscular women were historically not considered to be prototypes for the ideal body but more akin to circus freaks.” It’s published by Arsenal Pulp Press and you can read more about it on their blog.
The images are just terrific. So too is the history and I keep picking it and wanting to show to people and share. I might even buy multiple copies to give some away. I like it that much.
In Stronger Than Yesterday, “Venus With Biceps” Do It Nothin’ But Their Way Meghan writes:
“I love that this book exists because so many people still believe that women need to look a certain way, use their bodies a certain way, be in the world in a certain way in order to be women. Strength is for everyone. Pictures like these serve as a great starting point for conversations about the history of women in sports, about gender performance, about what constitutes beauty and why we create standards for strength based on gender. But more than that, these pictures, and these women, are proof that there have always been women who weren’t afraid to push the boundaries of social convention.”
There’s also a good review of Venus with Biceps in The Atlantic by Maria Popova. You should go read the reviews and then buy the book!