The other day I put up a poster at the gym for the Pine Tree State OCB natural bodybuilding and figure show. There are a few BBAC members who plan to compete (it’s going to be held in April in Westbrook) and there are only two physique-related shows in Maine a year, so I was happy to help advertise it.

I was not prepared for the response from normally quiet gym members — it was universally negative, at least among those who spoke to me: “GROSS!” “Euwwwww!” “Is that even real?”

Now, mind you, this is natural bodybuilding — these are not big juiced-up bodies on the poster. They are lean — very lean, in fact — and muscular, but more on the “very defined” side of things versus the gigantic side of things. So the response kind of threw me. Especially since one of my favorite figure competitors — Donna Shea — is featured on the poster.  (She’s the one on the far left, below) This isn’t the poster I put up in the gym, but two of the people on the poster are in this picture, Donna and the man posing with his hand behind his head, and these are the same photos that are featured in the poster.

The pictures aren’t the best I’ve ever seen, and pictures tend to make those who compete in physique shows look bigger than they actually do. In real life, natural competitors generally are pretty small because they have very little fat on their bodies. But the response reminded me of the time I purchased an Oxygen magazine at the grocery store (a magazine that features fitness models, not bodybuilders, on its cover) and the cashier was very vocal in his thoughts about how “gross” the model’s abs looked. Again, Oxygen is mainstream fitness magazine.

We definitely have feelings about how people are “supposed” to look. It appears to be a knee-jerk kind of thing, as the people making the comments sort of let them fly out of their mouths without thinking, as soon as they saw the photos.

How much is too much? And better yet — does it matter? What is it we are reacting to? Are we as sizeist about lean bodies as we are about fatter bodies? Why is that?

Things that make you go hmmmm …..