Cheating Genetics

A wave of hot shame washes over me as I write this, even though it happened a week ago. I never thought that I would stoop so low. Other people give in to carnal urges, begging for forgiveness later on Dr. Phil, but not me. My shame begins to spiral as I confess this second egregious sin: I regularly watch the bald one pontificate while eating small chunks of chicken during afternoon breaks from writing. But you are not interested in my smutty TV habits, are you? I imagine that you kind and gentle readers want details—lurid, excruciating details—about the nastiness I did with my fallen body. I’m not one to be squeamishly reticent (though I am one to use a thesaurus), so here they are…

I cheated. After being steadfastly committed for so long, I finally strayed. Just once, well maybe three times, or was it six? I’m not sure how these things are counted. Here’s the long and short of it: I gave in to forbidden love. It was exhilarating, physically and mentally, but of course it could not last. Now it is over and I am left with regrets and recrimination. So…deep breath…okay. It happened in the kitchen, last Sunday afternoon. Unable to control myself, I grabbed what I wanted, hoisted myself onto the countertop, and put tempting slabs of energy into a warm, narrow slot. Do I need to paint a picture?

That’s right. With hands shaking from excitement, I first toasted and then devoured delicious multigrain bread, starting with two slices, then two more, then two more. I think this event is known as a Triple Double Oral in the industry. I savoured those six crispies in a way that put a smile on everyone’s face, contradicting the soft porn lead-up depicted above. By the next day I had gained 7 pounds. How can that be? That is a fucking great question! Especially since I ate the bread out of desperation, being sick from both ends—well, you said you wanted juicy details so suck it up babies. It felt like knitting needles were inside my gut, repeatedly stabbing me. I gulped the absorptive toastiness to speed my recovery, and it worked, almost immediately. But was it worth it? I think not.

I waited two days before confessing what I had done to QMR. She said ‘that’s not good.’ How’s that for an understatement? She recommended that I drink some pedialyte along with other fluids, and direct my ardour at more appropriate targets, namely brussels sprouts. I meekly agreed to comply, eyes downcast. Then QMR boosted my flagging spirits by informing me that she typically loses clients over the Easter weekend. Surrounded by glistening buttock-shaped hams, aromatically alluring mashed potatoes, and frankly sexual chocolate bunnies, bodybuilders who have been dieting for a full three months suddenly submit, stuffing themselves right out of competitions that are still a month away. After hearing this I felt slightly better about my situation because I had by no means entirely blown my show. ‘Let’s just see what your body does,’ suggested QMR. ‘Everyone responds differently to carb loads and electrolyte losses, depending on genetics.’

While keeping an eye on my rebelliously ballooning body, I pondered the term genetics. It is used in contradictory and complex ways within the world of bodybuilding. For instance, some people are said to have ‘good genetics.’ G-Smash has great genetics, gaining muscle easily—well, she works hard for it, but her lady meat will in fact grow faster and larger than it does for most women—a nicely proportioned body, and tendons that attach low on her bones, providing an impressive lat spread, among other impressive spreads. Sorry G-Smash, I can’t resist teasing you! Someone with bad genetics likely suffers from more than a slow metabolism and muscle growth. They also cannot overcome such faults as short legs, small calves, or a lower body that retains fat even when ribs and shoulder blades press through a thin skinned torso. Not much can be done about such bad genetics, other than to realize that turning pro is not in the cards. In these cases, genetics are equated with biology, with unique physical traits that are inherited as a gift or a curse, depending on your situation.

But that is not the only use of this loaded term in bodybuilding argot or slang. Genetics are often scorned by those-who-like-to-lift-heavy-things-and-grunt; the natural body is refused in ways that are both visceral and scientific. Consider the ‘ripped freak’ who consumes a substance called ‘mutant mass’ in order to ‘go hard or go home.’ This monstrous being engages in acts of blatant self-creation, rejecting his or her heritage as well as all physical expectations and limitations. The tendency to laugh in the face of biology is what moves certain kinds of bodybuilders toward the image of the mad scientist. Think Dr. Frankenstein. I once saw a t-shirt proclaiming ‘test is best,’ and I doubt that the hormone referred to was produced in a factory located inside the male body. Chemical additives and injections are acceptable, even obvious, within a discursive framework that defies the body’s birthright while embracing the artificial. This kind of body was not grown in a womb, and is not beholden to or even linked with the past. It is an ongoing creation made in the present and the future. Produced in the gym and elsewhere, this hulking, ripped, cut, and jacked physique sends out a strong message: Fuck genetics.

I am still in the process of learning about my own genetics, though I subscribe to the notion that they cannot determine me. Like other bodybuilders I have met—they tend to be independent over-achievers—I too insist that the past will not direct my destiny. I perhaps naively affirm that I am in control, and that my personal history and unchosen heritage do not hold sway. I plan to cling steadfastly to this notion, at least until I start showing signs of the early onset dementia that runs in my family.

I am cursed with freckles, sweat-induced backne. and a certain asymmetry, but am working on it

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About feministfiguregirl

I am a 51-year-old professor named Lianne McTavish who receives as much satisfaction from working out at the gym as from publishing my academic research. About eight years ago, I decided to combine my two primary identities (scholar/gym rat) to create "Feminist Figure Girl," a fictional character who both analyzes and participates in bodybuilding. I competed in my first figure show in June of 2011, and then wrote a book inspired by the process, published by SUNY Press in February 2015. In this blog I will write about and consider my ongoing research on the body, while regularly making fun of myself. I recommend that you start reading my first post from August 2010 (available on the home page), instead of backwards from the most recent one, in order to get the full FFG effect.

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