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Renee Toney and her impressive biceps

Renné Toney. Photo courtesy Facebook.

Renné Toney Shows Us There Is No One Way To Be A Woman

Renné Toney is not your average gym rat. Weighing in at 214 pounds (mostly of muscle!), the 5’8″ body builder has been measured, and she has the largest female biceps in the world — 21 inches. Toney flips “traditional” cis-gender roles upside down with her mythic Olympian feats, such as benching 521 pounds raw.

Toney has experienced plenty of discrimination in the world. Between being a BIPOC woman, as well as a woman in a male-dominated industry, her experience is either questioned or completely erased. People either see her as “just one of the guys” to the extent of erasing her (literally mistaking her for one), or she is seen as not feminine enough to be a marketable general media role model.

“They don’t want women to go this far because we still have to sell sports apparel or supplements. The average housewife isn’t going to aspire to look like that female body builder with extreme muscle,” Toney says.

Renee Toney and her impressive biceps.

Renné Toney. Photo courtesy Facebook.

The body builder has had little support from her family, sadly. “My mom is old fashioned. ‘Women just don’t have muscles, she just didn’t understand it. I didn’t have a little boy, I had a little girl.’ You know, that kind of attitude.” She has had to find her own definition of family within friends, trainers, fellow gym-goers and fans.

“I don’t appreciate being dictated to and told what I’m supposed to look like, how far I can and cannot take my body. It’s always going to be that way for me. The message I like to get across is look what a woman can do. If she’s just given that ball and given that chance to take her body to whatever limits that she can, given that ball and let her run with it,” Toney explains of her attitude toward opponents. “Win, lose, or draw … I do it for me.”


Laurel Dickman is an intersectional feminist, plus size model, stylist, and fat activist that can also be found via her blogs, Exile In Dietville and 2 Broke Bitches. She grew up in the south between Florida and North Carolina, migrating to the Portland, OR in 2005. All three places inform her perspective of the world around her a great deal. While in Portland, she worked with the Alley 33 Annual Fashion Show, PudgePDX, PDX Fatshion, Plumplandia, and numerous other projects over the near decade that she was there. In August of 2014, she moved to the Bay area with her partner, David and trusty kitty, Dorian Gray. She continues her body positive and intersectional feminism through various forms of activism, fashion, photography projects, and writing from her home in the East Bay. She can be reached at laurel@wyvmag.com and encourages readers to reach out to her to collaborate!

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