T Nation

Jordanian Woman Bodybuilder



AFP - Her highly muscled body is smothered in tattoos, she is constantly criticised by her fellow Jordanians and she suffers deep inner torment.

No matter what it takes, however, 26-year-old Farah Malhass is determined to become the first Arab woman to enter an international body-building competition.

"Everyone is against me. No one understands why I want to become an international star in figure body-building," she said.

Her pursuit comes at great personal cost; many Jordanian men have strict views on "correct" behaviour for women, as witnessed by the frequent so-called honour killings -- of female family members suspected of having sex before marriage.

Malhass is a sitting target for Jordan's hardliners, not least of all because her body is covered in tattoos: a bare-breasted angel is depicted on her upper thighs, angel wings cover her back, and edgy statements are branded across her arms.

"You are somebody when you stop being nobody," reads one. "Only the one who hurts you can heal your pain," reads another.

"The tattoo is vital for me. It reveals my identity and the path I want to follow," says Malhass, who travels regularly to Beirut to get her tattoos after receiving her first one at the age of 17.

"Yes, it hurts, but it is therapeutic at the same time because the pain allows me to overcome the inner suffering that eats away at me," she says.

Hailing from a well-off Jordanian family as one of two daughters, Malhass's parents are divorced. She has no contact with her businessman father and her mother is often away on travels.

"It was my grandfather who looked after us. He always spoiled me, but when I was 20 I wanted to live alone and achieve my dream."

A rebel from an early age, she has nurtured the dream since the age of 14, when she swore that one day it would be her pictures splashed out across the walls of the gym.

Malhass began training at 20, but soon came up against the disapproval of her family, who could not understand why she should chose to "deform my body and make myself look ugly."

So she enrolled at Saint Martins College in London to study fine art, but soon dropped out.

Back in Jordan, she joined the International Organisation for Migration in 2007 and worked with Iraqi immigrants, "an experience that scarred me with their stories of torture and abuse."

Malhass left the IOM last year and is now totally committed to her ambition of taking part in international body-building competitions.

Today, she is on the verge of seeing her dream come true.

She is to travel to Canada in September to take part in an amateur body-building competition in the "figure" category, for muscle men and women who do not aim to develop huge biceps.

"If I win first prize, I would then be able to participate in professional competitions," she says.

But in Amman her plans are met with scepticism and derision far more than encouragement.

The Jordanian body-building federation has difficulty accepting a woman into its ranks. "Aren't you ashamed of parading in front of the world in a bikini," she is asked.

So far only one Jordanian athlete, Zeid al-Far, has supported her. He is also competing in Toronto and they are sharing the cost of their training.

They are also seeking sponsorship together but this is proving elusive, with just one radio station manager in Amman and a nightclub owner in Beirut taking any interest.

"Preparations for the competition are expensive, with all the vitamins and other health supplements, gym membership, food ... I've even sold my car to meet the costs," she says.

She insists she wants to reach her goal by herself, without family help.

"Besides, my grandfather is ill and if he ever learned that I was taking part in this kind of competition, he would certainly never recover."


i'd smash.




"She is to travel to Canada in September to take part in an amateur body-building competition in the "figure" category, for muscle men and women who do not aim to develop huge biceps."
Out of that whole article I got this... there's figure for men??
Oh, and she's hawt.


It'd be cool if she had her own website or a way to accept donations and such. I'd be more than happy to help her out. I wish her the best of luck.


This article is so frustrating!

It mentions that Malhass's plight to be the first female Arab bb'er is met with friction, but only explicitly cites tattoos and expenses as the problem and just vaguely mentions anything about Jordanian views regarding female bb'ers aside from their 'strict views on 'correct' behaviour for women'.

I'd be more interested in reading about Arab views re: a female muscular physique. Such a shame they couldn't elaborate more on this.


She's purdy!

I'd walk 20 miles barefoot over broken glass and barbed wire just to suck the lug nuts off the truck that takes her panties to the cleaners.




I had to cover my mouth to avoid laughing out loud in the office!


You sir need to find a new office.


That's great on a number of levels.


I dated a Jordanian girl who looked like princess Jasmin with giant tits. She was easily one of the more physically attractive women I've ever seen. Think I posted her picture on here a few times. She said her country's full of women that look just like her. We should organize a field trip to Jordan.

EDIT: The chick I dated has several tats and does hooters calenders but won't eat pork due to her Muslim beliefs. Always found that really funny.


She's hot. If she is suffering deep inner torment for looking like that, I think that says more about the tormentors than her.


Her arm is laughing on the outside, but I bet it's crying on the inside.


Maybe you should post them again, for old times sake.


If that means more chicken and beef... damn, son.


I support this but WhiteFlash doesn't pay attention to what I write, so it will be of no use!


I know tons of people that don't eat pork for various reasons from religious to some traditional belief that the animal is "unclean". Hooters ain't porn....they just make you think about porn.


I agree it's too bad that good health has a bad stigma then add on religious beliefs well good thing she moved to Canada. On a side not I'm moving to Jordan and here's a picture of my friend Victoria from that part of the world as well.


That's a great face.