Glamazon. It's a title not many women can pull off. I don't think I can, for example. Champion female bodybuilder Kizzy Vaines, though? She OWNS the word.
I first came across her when she starred in Elisha Smith-Leverock’s sweaty, sexually charged fashion film I Want Muscle, working it out in a sheer red leotard and piles of gold jewellery. I relate to Kizzy and I think she looks like Reese Witherspoon, but, you know, with less fluid. “Everything stays still when you walk, nothing jiggles," she says. "It’s nice.”
Recently, I sat down with Kizzy for little bit of girl chat. She told me about how she got into female bodybuilding, her thoughts on female beauty, the elegance of muscle and why she prefers having a designer body over a designer dress.
VICE: So you’re the only British competitor for the Fitness Olympia title in Las Vegas. Female bodybuilding is generally a much bigger thing in the US, right?
Kizzy Vaines: Whenever I go to the US competitions it’s just full of women, and it’s always getting more and more accepted over there. I love seeing the girls because I don’t get to that often, 'cos they all live in America.
I checked out the videos of you competing like you suggested. They look sort of look like dance routines. Do you have a background in dance?
Yeah, I did it from a young age, from about three. My favourite part of the competitions is actually the round where I get to do a gymnastics contortion routine for about two minutes on stage.
I think a lot of people would be surprised to see a female bodybuilder compete in a tutu and braided pigtails with red bows, like you did a couple of years ago in the Arnold Classic. What do you look for in an outfit for the competitions?
I’m trying to show as much body as I can without looking, you know, a bit slutty. It also really depends on what sort of music or theme I’ve got, because I usually work my outfit around that. For the last competition, I had a rock and roll theme, so the music was “Rock Around the Clock”. I wore some pedal pushers and a crop top with a scarf in my hair and little gloves. Very cute.
So, why did you decide to start bodybuilding?
My husband encouraged me to do this because he knew I admired the women in the fitness magazines and the ones I had seen on stage competing. I thought these women had a sexy and beautiful look. As a dancer, I also admired the toned physiques of male ballet dancers and acrobats. So when I saw those kinds of physiques on women, I thought it looked hot. And when I saw these women dressed up, it sealed it for me that this was a perfect look. The curves they showed in a dress were amazing. I knew right away that that was what I wanted to achieve.
You defo achieved it. Why do you think muscle on women is beautiful?
I wouldn't say that muscle is beautiful, but it is more unique. I like to look a bit different. People like to dress to be noticed. When a lady walks into a room showing – not big, bulky muscle – but more of a toned look, you can see people stop and stare, or even nudge a friend to turn and look. I get this reaction from both males and females. At first it is a little uncomfortable, as I do this as my sport and not for attention, but eventually they usually come up to me and compliment me on the way I look.
Do people tend to be nice, or bitchy?
Some will tell you how great it looks and that they wish they had the dedication to go through the hard work to achieve that look themselves. The ones that turn their noses up are usually the jealous ones, as they don't like the attention that you are receiving, and they know they can't put in the work themselves.
The strangest reaction was when I won my first competition In Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I was walking through the airport holding my trophy and people were coming up to me to ask what I had won, congratulating me. Even the security, whilst pretending to interrogate me, were asking me my name so they could follow me on Facebook and google me. As soon as I got to England, of course, this ended. People just stared at me as if I had two heads.
What is your definition of beauty?
I don't like stick-thin; to me that looks unhealthy and sends out the wrong message. It’s important to me that I feel strong and look strong. I love it. I prefer the curvier look of Kim Kardashian, Beyonce and Jenifer Lopez. I don't know, maybe it is because there is some detail in the shape to look at. It looks natural and healthy. And with a pretty face at the top of it, you can't get much better.
Why do you think so many women are afraid of putting on too much muscle?
I don’t know, I think it’s a phobia of looking like a man, but that doesn’t have to be the case at all. I’ve put on a lot of muscle and I don’t look like a man. When I first started training, I used to go to the gym a little afraid of picking up a weight, because I thought it might make me muscular like a man by the following week. A fallacy that most women seem to believe. But when I began training with my husband, he encouraged me to train hard with the weights.
Do you ever find it difficult to reconcile your muscular physique with your femininity?
I think my strength is part of my femininity. It’s important for every woman to feel strong and empowered. All women should definitely do it: Get training, and look good!
Would you say your muscles make you feel more masculine at all?
No, not at all! Definitely not. I like the fact that my bum got bigger, like a Beyonce bum! I got curvier, so I felt more womanly.
That’s interesting. How did you feel when Elisha approached you about the film? Were you tentative at first?
I was really up for it because I’ve never done anything like this before, and when she explained how it was going to be produced and shot I wanted to show women that muscle is beautiful; that it can look elegant and sophisticated.
What has been the general response to the film?
Everyone loves it. Apart from my brother. He said, “Oh my God, you can see your nipples!” So yeah, you could say he wasn’t too impressed. But other than him, everyone has been totally positive, no negative feedback whatsoever.
Which of your female bodybuilding friends that you compete with in the States do you think have especially hot bodies?
I think that Ava Cowan and Alicia Harris who are figure girls (not my category) have nice, hot figures. Larissa Reis also takes the hottest pictures ever. She looks sexy on the camera and knows how to work it without going overboard.
Great. Nice to meet you, Kizzy!
Films Stills: Courtesy of Elisa Smith - Leverock / Knock Knock Productions