My Lovely Lady Lumps

By: Caitlin Makary

“I don’t want my arms to get jacked!!”

More than one of my girl friends have said this in response to me encouraging them to try climbing.  And while I don’t think that everyone’s body responds to climbing in the same way, I kind of get it.  Being strong and athletic while still maintaining one’s femininity can sometimes be tricky.

Caitlin, 6 BC (6 years ‘before climbing’)

Caitlin, 6 BC (6 years ‘before climbing’)

Caitlin, 2014. Photo by Jay Kolsch

I love my muscles.  Before climbing, I never used my arms for anything – doing one pull up would have been cause for celebration.  Climbing has made me strong in a way I never thought possible and I love the transformation.  However, since I’ve always had a thin, ‘athletic’ frame every once in a while I wonder what it would be like to have boobs.  Or hips.  Or curves of any kind, some sort of softness about my body.  Something to make me feel more womanly.  Feeling active and fit is amazing, but sometimes it could be nice to be more archetypically feminine.

Dressing for formal occasions, especially weddings, is really the only time balancing ‘strong’ and ‘feminine’ is difficult for me.  At my brother’s wedding, my sisters and I wore strapless bridesmaids dresses.  In the group photos my biceps are prominently featured, as the photographer had us hold flowers with our arms bent at a 90༠ angle.  Last May, I was at a friend’s wedding and had made myself a strappy, semi-backless dress.  We later saw photos of everyone dancing at the reception, and there I am,  back muscles rippling.

Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 7.52.04 AM

To be clear, I was a bridesmaid at this event, not a bouncer

None of us can figure out what dance move that is. I’m calling it ‘The Bruce Banner’.

My friends laugh at these photos because ‘in real life’ I don’t look like a bodybuilder.  Nothing has been altered in the photographs above, nothing is photoshopped but , obviously at certain angles, in certain lighting, I look a little….bulkier.  I’ll be attending a couple weddings this year and am considering making myself something with sleeves, just to avoid the potential for weird photos.  As a designer I know lots of tricks to hide ‘problem’ areas of women’s bodies – but I don’t like thinking of my strong back and arms as a problem.  Would hiding my muscles mean that I am ashamed of them in some way?  Or is it just dressing myself to flatter my other features?  Am I totally overthinking this?

I brought this up to some of the other girls and found that we all have instances where the fruits are our climbing labor have been excessively highlighted in photo form.  And while the above photos make me question my ability to appear feminine and womanly, I also find them hilarious.  The other ladies did as well, so much so that some of them wanted to share their own lumpy shots:

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Shelma: “Hm.. a photo where I look jacked AND I’m about to put a giant mouthful of food into my mouth. Delightful” ; P

A Reader Submission: “You know, Im leaving shortly after this photoshoot to go and flash 5.14. NBD.”

As of now I haven’t decided what to wear for this year’s weddings.  I may try to cover up the guns, or I might just rock out with my jock out.  While they may not make me look dainty and ladylike in a dress, one thing I do know is that I’ll be glad for my lady lumps this weekend at the Gunks 🙂

*Celebrate the hilarious side of being a strong woman and share your own ‘lovely lady lumps’ shots with us at!

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 3.03.08 PMCaitlin I’m from New England but have lived in Brooklyn since 2003.  I’ve been climbing since 2011 and love it all – trad, sport, ice, alpine… maybe not bouldering so much 😉  I’m learning to aid this year to get up on some big walls!

I’m a women’s clothing designer and love to sew.  I make my own clothes when I have time – which isn’t often since my climbing addiction began.

3 Responses to “My Lovely Lady Lumps

  • I don’t think there is anything unfeminine about having muscles. Women are very strong in their hearts & minds, why not wear that on our sleeves? Or under them as it were?

    I think muscles on a woman are very attractive and I know lots of guys who do too. No need to cover them up! Show others that strong is sexy!

  • Lindsey Lenox
    5 years ago

    Great article! Strong is sexy 🙂

  • Thanks Betty and Lindsey!! Keep repping for all the strong women out there! 🙂

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