Some might say that professional and extreme bodybuilding is all about pushing the body to its limits, in search of that “perfect image” that tends to vary from person to person. Others might claim that it’s an addiction that can’t be helped, a habit that must be continuously fuelled and supported. But whatever a person’s reason for pushing the limits, most will agree that steroids, specifically anabolic steroids, tend to do more harm than good, especially when the side-effects are brought to attention.This piece intends to shine a light on the potentially horrific outcomes when a female bodybuilder decides to take things beyond what most might rationally call “the norm”, as in the perceived image of what a feminine form should look like. This writer understands that this is a topic in which opinion and personal preferences play the largest part in any decision, but merely aims to provoke thought on the matter of what it is that drives people to do this to themselves. Is it madness or sheer willpower and a desire to achieve something that drives these women? Is the resultant figure or body an example of horror, or that of beauty, which is – as they say – in the eye of the beholder?These steroids increase the synthesis of protein within cells, thus resulting in the buildup of tissue, especially in muscles. The word “anabolic” comes from the Greek words “anabole” meaning “to build up”, as well as the word “androgenic” (as well as meaning the enhancement of masculine characteristics due to the increment in testosterone levels) from the Greek words “andros” and “genein”, meaning “man” and “to produce”, respectively.The side effects associated with steroid abuse are particularly negative for women, resulting in a whole range of various problems and unwanted effects including – but not limited to – deepening of the voice, increased body hair and clitoromegaly, or an abnormal enlargement of the clitoris. So take a look at the following professional female body builders and decide for yourself where you think the boundary between beauty/obsession lies and whether or not these people have left that line so far behind that they begin to lose all traces of their femininity. One note: The portraits are done by photographer Martin Schoeller as part of a series of portraits of female bodybuilders, check out some of his work here.