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Sheila Marikar Headshot

Please Madonna, End the Gun Show

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Madonna is a woman of so many missions: Kabbalah, AIDS advocacy, adoption.

Here's a new cause she might consider: gun control.

No, the Material Mom and pop superstar isn't toting AK47s to Malawi, Manhattan and beyond. Madonna's weapons of choice are her buff-beyond-belief biceps. Recent images of the singer display a double-barreled mass of sinewy veins that strike fear in the hearts of paparazzi and raise questions in the heads of fans and critics:

How and why does a 50-year-old woman get her arms to look like that?

"Oftentimes when your body fat is really, really, low, as Madonna's is, you're going to see veins pop," explained Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "Her body fat is minimal, and she does a lot of strength training workouts that are going to build her muscles to look more visible."

But scant fat plus hardcore exercise doesn't necessarily translate to a healthy body.

"When muscles look that way, it's often the result of pretty restrictive eating and dehydration," Bonci said, noting the "pop" of Madonna's veins mimics the appearance bodybuilders attempt to achieve for competitions.

"With bodybuilders, the goal is to be sinewy, to make everything stand out. How do you get to that goal? You restrict your fluid intake. But then you might collapse on stage."

Take note, Madonna: if you plan to keep high-kicking your way through your Sticky & Sweet world tour, a couple sips of Vitamin Water between sets might not be a bad idea.

Beyond that, maybe it's time to quit the quest to achieve ageless perfection. True, it's not just Madonna -- too many women in Hollywood abide by the ridiculous regimen of few hours of cardio here, one hour of lifting there, then a trip to the clinic to get lasered down and Botoxed up.

But she can help turn the tide. Madonna made her name in the '80s by bucking established trends and pioneering new ones. If she stopped striving for the body of a Greco-Roman God, perhaps the entertainment industry would adjust its expectations for what its female stars should look like.

And not for nothing, but she'd probably be happier. Those arms lift a lot, for sure, but they don't look like they've picked up an ice-cream cone in weeks.