Julia Vins is an unusual blend of beauty and brawn.
The 18-year-old powerlifter is described as having the face of a porcelain doll – with wide eyes, full pouty lips, and soft blond curls – and the body of The Incredible Hulk with wide shoulders, bulky arms and the ability to deadlift 400lbs.
“People know me as ‘ Muscle Barbie ’” says the Russian teen “I like this comparison. It’s nice. I have these big, beautiful eyes and wear make-up. But at the same time, I’m strong.”
In fact she’s so strong that she holds three world powerlifting records: 396 lbs in the squat, 231 in the bench press, and 363 in the deadlift, according to The Daily Mail.
Vins didn’t always have the ripped figure she has now — not even close. In fact, she used to have a naturally slender body when she first started going to the gym at age 15.
“Because of my facial features, people have always said I look like a doll” she says, as she explains what prompted her to start body building, “And I was a good, academic girl for so many years. I studied music, was well-read, participated in various school competitions and was skilled at art, but I never felt like I had any particular objective in life. My body was not in harmony with my soul – it wasn’t the right one for me.”
So she figured focusing on her body might give her life some direction and meaning.
“I had no interest in sport but I was lost. I thought I might see if I could build some strength and confidence by weight training at the gym” she said, adding “I started copying exercises that the male gym-goers did. It did not make me strong but then I started powerlifting. I loved it! I knew then that my goal was – to build muscle.”
A year later, she teamed up with a coach who trained her four times per week, and she even transformed her diet to be in line with creating the type of body she wanted.
Today she Vins also works out with her 29-year-old boyfriend, Sergei.
“My mum and dad don’t like to interfere with my life but Sergei is very hands-on” she says of her weightlifting partner. “For me, there is no limit. I want to become as muscly as possible.”
The response she has gotten has been mixed. With more than 23,000 Instagram followers, people have certainly taken notice but not all of it is positive.
“Everyone has an opinion on what I look like – they either respect my work or reprimand me for being a muscly girl. But to be honest, I’ve noticed that the guys who are negative about my athleticism – are just jealous” says Viins, adding “people have tried to knock me down but my training has made me strong – both physically and mentally.”
She says she’s no ordinary doll and she hopes everyone finds their true calling in life like she has.
“I don’t like to think of what I would have become if I wasn’t muscle Barbie” she says.