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DEFINITION: Swole

February 26, 2019 1 comment



swOl/  To be visibly muscular.  This is to be distinguished from “swollen” which would be in the past tense and usually refers to some sort of malady or affliction.

Swole is the 21st. century description that has now succeeded:

-‘Pumped’ as popularized by the 1977 movie Pumping Iron and referenced in 1997’s Boogie Nights, was the calling card for pneumatic muscular development in the late 70s and early 80s.  The tire reference was telling as that era of bodybuilding and weight training, which are NOT the same at all, was characterized by the intake of massive amounts of whole diary products lending their users a somewhat bloated appearance.

-‘Jacked’ took over at about the time I started tending bar.  ‘Jacked’ had multiple meanings in conversation when referring to appearance.  ‘Jacked’ as in acquired illegitimately, “Dude, that guy must be jacked, he’s so big.”

(This meaning of illegitimate acquisition is still used in hip-hop in reference to illegal and unacknowledged samples).

‘Jacked’ also referred to self-abuse as bodybuilders were often thought to be absorbed in onanistic self-enchantment.  In this context ‘jacked’ was something of a double entendre.

-‘Decked’ came into fruition in the 90s as weightlifting and bodybuilding became chic among Generation X.

‘Decked’ is a nickname for DecaDrol, a trade name for Dexamethasone, a popular anabolic steroid easily obtained through scrip doctors who charged cash for prescriptions that rarely if ever required an examination or bonafide therapeutic issue.

(It is worth mentioning that Decadrol was used by AIDS patients to combat the wasting precipitated by a variety of AOOIs).

‘Decked’ also came to refer to the use of DecaDrol as a party drug, in spite of the very real danger of alcohol interactions.

Women seeking a tad more fiber to enhance their sleeveless tops began to emulate Linda Hamilton in Terminator II with her display of ‘femceps/sheceps’.

Eventually, enough bad interactions prompted authorities to crack down on the number of prescriptions and DecaDrol became just another drug by the time President George W. Bush was elected.

‘Swole’ entered the lingua franca around the time of President Obama’s second term.  By this time an almost obese silhouette had become acceptable and indeed de rigueur for hip hop fashion.

Smartphones enabled the instant constant communication of physiques to all interested…and even those who were uninterested.  Massiveness that filled a  screen superseded aesthetic elevation.

This new standard inspired a new definition of fitness which emphasized an inflated midsection that sat in stark contrast to the cut, defined look of 90s fitness practitioners.  Whole milk, refined sugar and sugared sodas returned to the menus of many.  Bulging bellies and bulging biceps formed a kind of symmetrical symphony which came to be called ‘swole.’

It is telling, at least to this aspiring journalist, that ‘swole’ is always in the present tense.  Although the ‘pumped,’ ‘jacked’ and ‘decked’ eras all had contradictions there was at least the pretense of looking to be healthy.

And while the morality of chemically enhanced strength is a matter of continual debate in gyms and professional sports the ‘swole’ era is primarily about appearance.

‘Swole’ is the current nomenclature but a new generation will press another term.  Stay tuned…

 

 

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