1. Mediaite
  2. Gossip Cop
  3. Geekosystem
  4. Styleite
  5. SportsGrid
  6. The Mary Sue
  7. The Maude
  8. The Braiser

What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Great Hera!

Hera Gave Me Strength: MAC Cosmetics Ad Featuring Jelena Abbou, Female Bodybuilder

Samantha Escobar at Blisstree has the most succinct summation of why this is cool:

We all know that our society often fat shames people they deem overweight and sometimes body shame those declared too thin, but many men and women consider very muscular women to be “gross” or “unappealing.” I find this strange, since — while I don’t remotely condone it — fat and thin shamers tend to at least cite health as a typical reason for being assholes. When it comes to insulting muscular females, this logic makes no sense; typically, those women work out frequently and eat incredibly well in order to achieve the bodies they have… We’re “allowed” to be strong and toned, but give us some solid definition, and bam — suddenly females are not “feminine” enough anymore.

This MAC ad takes body builder Jelena Abbou and treats her with the glamour they would any other model, even as she gives each and everyone of us a ticket to the gunshow. Striking a powerful pose indeed. Also, relevant Kate Beaton comic.

(via Alb in Wonderland.)

Previously in MAC Cosmetics

Are you following The Mary Sue on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, & Google +?


  • Chanel Diaz

    “I find this strange, since — while I don’t remotely condone it — fat and thin shamers tend to at least cite health as a typical reason for being assholes. When it comes to insulting muscular females, this logic makes no sense; typically, those women work out frequently and eat incredibly well in order to achieve the bodies they have… We’re “allowed” to be strong and toned, but give us some solid definition, and bam — suddenly females are not “feminine” enough anymore.”

    I hear that, sister. In this Society, females are NEVER Good Enough, which probably explains why they’re even Victorian Secret Models still Subconscious.

    And I’m not even talking about the female bodybuilders who use Steroids either. HEALTH’S GOT NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. It’s all just about being Physically Fragile DRAMATICALLY Compared to men (Unlike this Picture here, Super Models Often Look very Passive, and so I WISH, we’d have more Female Models like her to Balance out all the Submissive-Looking Ones.).

    I Love how she LOOKS LIKE A SUPERHERO! :D

    She kinda Looks Like Korra, who also Possesses a Body Type not Typically shown in the Media. Don’t know why, though. I thought her Body Type was just as Beautiful Compared to what we’re Used To Seeing, not to mention how Refreshing it was.

  • Sara Sakana

    On the one hand, it’s nice to see representation of muscular women in the media. On the other, putting said muscular woman in a foofoo dress and makeup just reinforces the idea that it’s okay for women to have muscles and be athletic as long as they’re otherwise adhering to artificial standards of “femininity” that exist for the sole purpose of giving straight men something pretty to stare at.

  • Tiffany Burke

    I saw it more as being that women who are muscular can also be feminine, as you almost never see a muscular woman with makeup and nice clothing. Most of the time, a muscular woman is used to be intimidating or as a joke. I really liked this ad.

  • Magnus David Magnusson

    Jelena Abbou is a gorgeous woman with an amazing phisique. Generally though I think figure competitors like Jelena are far more widely accepted and admired than female bodybuilders like Caroline Wang.

  • Aeryl

    Well, MAC Cosmetics has always been about challenging gender binaries, they are the cosmetic sponsor for RuPaul’s Drag Race(or at least they were for S1 & 2)

  • Chanel Diaz

    “Baby Steps, Baby Steps.” You’re right, though. :(

    I’ve heard of this Breast Cancer Survival who got a Double Mastectomy, but because she considered herself ‘Androgynous,’ she had no problem going ‘Topless’ with just some Swim Trunks to a PUBLIC POOL.

    They ‘Banned’ her because of some weird sounding Patriarchy Rule about “Gender-Approprate Clothing,” even though, last I checked there are no Federal Laws Concerning, Literally Nippleless Females. She “won” her case, but only during “Adult Swim Sessions.” Lack of Femininity, even though, it is the same case for Prepubescent Girls, apparently will Mislead All Prepubescent Girls into thinking they Don’t have to “Constantly Look Female” for the Opposite Sex.

    People, Including Commenters were “Uncomfortable” with the Idea of a “Shirtless Female,” or just a female, NOT OBVIOUSLY FEMALE. Goes to show how Ignorant and Stupid, people can be if they Pretty Much NEED a ‘Pink Bow’ to MARK the Humans with Female Genitalia.

    If she would’ve Sued for Gender Discrimination, I think Cases like hers would’ve been the Next Big Supreme Court Ruling that Also Would’ve Brought People’s Rigid Biases of Gender Roles Out There.

    Now I want to see her in a Korra Outfit or something Functional, but I think it still can be Stylish. B)

  • Emma Jones

    To be fair, I think all body builders look gross. At some point, they don’t look like they can move their limbs correctly anymore, and the muscle isn’t really useful. Lady at the top, though? She looks just fine.

  • Anonymous

    I know what you mean, but I think you’re probably thinking of bodybuilders that use, uh, “enhancements.” Abbou looks more like a bodybuilder that got there naturally. I agree the ‘roided up look is gross and seemly pointless.

  • Aeryl

    Well, she isn’t as buffed out as she would be for competition either. I have friends that are body builders and on days when they aren’t competing they just look like your average exercise fiend. They have to do preparations to make their bodies look as tone as they do in competition.

    Still beautiful though.

  • Patrick Denny

    More than that. RuPaul was their original Spokes-Model. At least up here in Canada.

  • Chanel Diaz

    I have a similar Opinion, too. Male or Female, I’ve just never really like the Aesthetics of the “Super Broad Muscle” Types (I keep asking myself, “Is this Photoshopped or Real?”). ->

    This Reminds me what someone said in a “Male Power Fantasy” Versus “Male Sex Fantasy” Discussion, that women’s “Female Sex Fantasy” didn’t Involve Super Hulk-Shaped Men, but Men like Nightcrawler who are Significantly Less Bulky….

  • Ividia Kt

    It’s nice to see a woman who doesn’t look either anorexic or 12. Now if only the “fashion industry” can get going in the right direction.

  • Anonymous

    That just looks weird, honestly. The glamor style doesn’t fit a muscled-up Amazon. I’m all for women being powerful and strong but if you’re going to that it’s going to look weird in a dress.

  • Eilonwy

    She looks great. I just think it’s sad that any time a model doesn’t fit the cookie-cutter rail-thin standard it becomes news. “Thin Shaming” is such a cop out. If I didn’t like being thin I could go cry on the shoulders of the ENTIRE fashion industry. Thin is the ONLY beauty they see fit to publish in any mainstream magazine. What a snooze.

  • Brian

    You don’t think skinny girls feel hurt when people they admire say “REAL women have curves!” You think every lanky teenager who feels like a mess of knees and elbows goes “La de dah! At least the fashion industry is full of thin people!” whenever someone tells them to go eat a sandwich or makes fun of their small breasts? BAH. Thin doesn’t mean they automatically fit the standards of “conventional beauty”, nor does it mean they can’t feel insecure in their bodies. Check yourself.

  • Joanna

    Think you sort of missed the point here…

  • Joanna

    This photo is incredibly striking. I know people are still griping about “standards of beauty” with this image but to me it’s art. =)

  • Brian

    I quite agree with the initial point, that it’s a shame that models outside of a narrow mold are automatically newsworthy. I call bull malarkey on the rest of the post, which acts like ‘thin shaming’ doesn’t exist and negates the feelings of thin women who are insecure in themselves.

  • Chanel Diaz

    I get that “Thin-Shaming (Which has to be a Result of “Fat-Shaming,” as a Counterintuitive to the Female Plight, “Defensive Mechanism.”)” Exists, but I think “Fat-Shaming” is Worse. Thin Females at least have “Inherent Value” about their Thinness that isn’t Completely Related to Sexuality like the Typical Big Breasted and Big Butted Non-Thin Females.

    And even though Thin-Females are more likely to have Small Breasts, isn’t it more like ‘Small-Breast Shaming,’ which could even happen to Overweight Females?

  • Laura Truxillo

    Which is why Nightwing’s shapely bum has a fandom all its own…

    (Nightcrawler’s pretty cute too. Wiry and and a buckler of swash. Something about those circus-types, I guess?)

  • Laura Truxillo

    Oh shoot, I WISH I’d had a character like Korra when I was in high school. I took karate and while some girls just toned up, all those push-ups just left me with shoulders like a linebacker (less so now that I’m a bit more stagnant), and it made me uncomfortable to wear feminine clothes, looking like that.

  • Ashe P. Samuels

    There is a lot of pressure to be thin, yes, and the amount of insecurity that goes along with STAYING thin is insurmountable.

    However, fat-shaming is still worse. Little to no representation, and when it does occur, it’s always in a negative or humorous light. Chalk that up to being assumed constantly as unhealthy, ugly, undesirable?

    When it comes to societal pressure, being thin is a little easier. Not by much, but it is. I think we can agree, though, that society’s desperate need to constantly police and regulate women’s bodies is a shitty process all over the board. Women literally can’t do anything without it being wrong or inaccurate somehow.

  • Brian

    Oh, fat shaming is definitely worse, and far more prolific. No arguments on that.

  • Eilonwy

    As a lanky teenager myself I can tell you for a fact that I took it as a complement EVERY time someone told me to eat a sandwich. I’m sure some people genuinely don’t like being thin, but they don’t have the media to blame for that. Check your own self.

  • Chanel Diaz

    Which is Another Reason, why we NEED more Women like the Model Above! :D

  • Brian

    Ohhhh, I see, because YOU took it as a complement (meaning you saw ‘skinny’ as an inherently good thing), that means all skinny girls should just deal with it, right? Yeah, “go cry on the shoulders of the entire fashion industry” isn’t at all insulting or dismissive.

  • Eilonwy

    Can you honestly say that the media doesn’t represent skinny as an inherently good thing?

  • Eilonwy

    If not, you’ve never looked at a fashion magazine. It’s a monoculture of thin.

  • Brian

    No, and I never have said that. What I said was that since YOU saw skinny as an inherently good thing, YOU took “eat a sandwich” as a compliment. And what YOU feel and how YOU react to insults and bullying is not what everyone feels, and belittling the experiences of others because YOU don’t think they should have a problem is wrong.

  • Eilonwy

    I, just like the vast majority of teenage girls saw skinny as an inherently good thing because it’s what the fashion industry shoves down our throats. I’m not arguing that people should go around commenting on each other’s bodies. My point is that no one can ask “Why is nothing but a single body type represented in fashion?” without someone crying “thin- shamer!” Meanwhile nothing changes because as much as people like to prattle on about every body type being beautiful, no one seems to have a problem with the fact that tall and thin is the exclusive body type chosen by fashion. Any time a model varies from that mold it’s so rare that it’s newsworthy.

  • Magic Xylophone

    “fat and thin shamers tend to at least cite health as a typical reason for being assholes. When it comes to insulting muscular females, this logic makes no sense”

    Yeaaaaaah, except professional bodybuilding can actually wreak havoc on your body. People hurt themselves just as much for unnaturally big muscles as they do for unnaturally thin waists.

  • Brian

    “My point is that no one can ask “Why is nothing but a single body type represented in fashion?” without someone crying “thin- shamer!” ”

    Except that wasn’t your point. Your point, that I agreed with, was that this shouldn’t be worthy of comment. No one cried out “thin shamer”, you just reacted to the mere mention of it by insulting thin girls with body issues. That is what I took exception to.

    Can you at least admit that “go cry on the shoulders of the entire fashion industry” is an insulting and dismissive thing to say? Or that your reaction to fashion culture and mockery of your body is not necessarily the same as everyone else’s?

  • Anonymous

    For real. It endlessly irks me that so many guys think extremely muscled men are the standard in what straight women want. It’s never been my preference.

  • Eilonwy

    It was my point. This isn’t an article about bullying. It’s an article about a fashion ad. As it pertains to fashion, thin-shaming is completely unrelated to fat-shaming. I think it’s totally disingenuous to act like they are. Thin is represented exclusively as beautiful by the fashion industry, fat (or anything in between) almost never.

  • Chanel Diaz

    And those Same Sexist Bigot ‘Straight Males’ will Bash those Type of Men for being “gay/womanly” while Possibly calling the females who Like those Type (Who Seem to be in the Majority, actually.) either “Lesbians/Dy*es” at the same time. Talk about “Patriarchy Agents,” Trying to Enforce the Unbalance Dynamic Between Men and Women. Stuff like This Comes to Mind:

    I Honestly Think it’s Universal to NOT be Attracted to Certain People who Look Like they can ‘BEAT’ you up, In a Unfair Fight, Emotionally & Physically.

    But when Women become Unafraid to Get and be Open about what and who they want and Men become Unafraid to Express their Untypical Characteristics while Supporting those Women Everyone WINS (Except for the Sexist Bigots)!