This week for BuzzFeed News, Amanda Shapiro explores the tanned, toned world of competitive bikini bodybuilding. Read that and these other great stories from BuzzFeed and around the web.
Twenty-six-year-old Ashley Kaltwasser is the reigning world champion of a polarizing new bodybuilding competition that raises questions about attainable female body image while cultivating a massive following on social media. But the LeBron James of #BikiniCompetitor culture doesn’t have the answers – she’s busy trying to make history. Read it at BuzzFeed News.
2. Cicada: Solving the Web’s Deepest Mystery — Rolling Stone
A thrilling read by David Kushner about a complex coded online riddle and the teenagers who worked for months to decipher it. “Solving things is kind of addictive…It kind of felt like National Treasure.” Read it at Rolling Stone.
3. â€˜Food is a Death Sentence to These Kids’ — The New York Times Magazine
Prader-Willi syndrome is a rare genetic disease that keeps those who have it, like 13-year-old Rachelle Ross-Williams, from being able to feel full, leading to a lifetime of battling the urge to eat at the risk of obesity, illness, and, sometimes, death. Kim Tingley chronicles Rachelle’s time in an inpatient facility as her mother tries to keep her alive. Read it at The New York Times Magazine.
4. Grounded — Charlotte Magazine
Cheryl Stearns, the greatest female skydiver in history, was closing in on a record 20,000 dives when she was hit by a car while riding her mountain bike last November. Now, Michael Graff learns how she’s coping with life on the ground. Read it at Charlotte Magazine.
5. The Vocal Life Coach — BuzzFeed News
Pop stars like Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, and Meghan Trainor go to great lengths to protect their voices — and their livelihood — amid grueling tour schedules and high-pressure performances. Peter Holslin meets vocal coach Eric Vetro, who keeps their spirits and notes high. Read it at BuzzFeed News.
6. The Rise and Rise of the Spornosexual — Esquire UK
“Spornosexuals” are men obsessed with sculpting their bodies into those of celebrity athletes and porn stars. Max Olesker spent 12 weeks, 48 training sessions, 64 protein shakes, and 316½ chin-ups finding out just what it takes to become one. Read it at Esquire UK.
7. Can Yakov Smirnoff, the King of Cold War Comedy, Make a Comeback? — The Guardian
Avi Steinberg visits conservative Branson, MO, one of the few places where Yakov Smirnoff can still get a laugh. But as American relations with Russia continue deteriorate, could the reigning comedian of the Soviet era become relevant again? Read it at The Guardian.
8. The Hunting of Billie Holiday — Politico Magazine
A historical account by Johann Hari of how the Federal Bureau of Narcotics’ ruthless targeting of African-Americans led to the downfall of Lady Day’s career and, eventually, her tragic death. “It was called ‘The United States of America versus Billie Holiday,’” she wrote in her memoir, “and that’s just the way it felt.” Read it at Politico Magazine.
9. Wolflandia: The Fight Over the Most Polarizing Animal in the West — Outside Magazine
Elliott D. Woods heads to the Rockies, where hunters, conservationists, and lawmakers are engaged in a fierce battle over the thriving wolf population. After decades of trying to protect the once-endangered animal, is it time to let it go? Read it at Outside Magazine.