We’re slowly moving past the cultural belief that feminine women “shouldn’t” be muscley. No longer is there a women’s fitness binary split between the lean pilates look and the ultra-swole of bodybuilders. And as the appreciation for a variety of body types expands, a new term of admiration for strong women has emerged: the “wheyfu” and the “muscle mommy.”
Combining “waifu,” a word originating in anime/manga for a woman whom you love in a wife-like way, and “whey,” referring to the whey protein many weightlifters use, “wheyfu” has grown across TikTok, Twitter and Reddit to label hot women with big muscles. Per Urban Dictionary, a wheyfu is “a girl, real or not, who hits the gym for strength and you find attractive.”
Unlike “muscle morph” fetishes, where men Photoshop women to have impossibly large muscles, the body type of the wheyfu is realistic. She’s strong in a natural way. In fact, even the illustrated forms of the wheyfu reflect an understanding of the limitations of the human body. Notably, a wheyfu isn’t necessarily “cut,” with intense definition and abs. Instead, the only real marker of a wheyfu is that she strives to build muscle.
Across all platforms, though, it’s the real-life self-identified wheyfus who really stand out. On TikTok, where the hashtag #wheyfu has more than two million views, there are hundreds of videos among women affixing the label to themselves or their friends. Some associate it distinctly with anime, but like the word “waifu,” it’s transcended the genre, too.
Meanwhile, “muscle mommy” is a synonymous term for this body type and aspiration. The #musclemommy hashtag has 44.3 million views on TikTok, with many of its videos overlapping with wheyfu content. With both, there’s an embrace of women who want to be muscley, in defiance of many beauty standards that suggest women shouldn’t be so physically strong. The point isn’t that these women shirk beauty entirely — as a scroll through these hashtags shows, many of them love doing their makeup, wearing dresses and embracing other conventions of femininity. Instead, it’s that having large muscles can fit within these conventions, too
And as the comments on these videos indicate, there’s a ton of appeal across genders for women with this look. “Well, I guess I’m gay now,” one woman wrote on a video of a woman flexing in a sundress. “I believe I may have found a TikTok crush at the delicate age of 31,” a man wrote on the same video.
There are plenty of people who fetishize women with this look or express it as their preference, but what’s most fun about the current wheyfu/muscle mommy moment is that women are embracing it themselves. It also coincides with a trend of the last several years where we equate our desire with destruction. It’s become popular to say something like “I want her to crush my head like a watermelon,” and these women look like they easily could. There remains a sense of awe and fear to their attractiveness, but it doesn’t overpower the fact that, regardless of how they wield their strength, they’re hot. And with “wheyfu” and “muscle mommy” at our disposal, we have a new, beefed-up way of expressing that.