Scrawny Is Hot?

According to Time Magazine, we are supposed to be scrawny and weak, or at least not expect to gain more than a few ounces per year without resorting to drugs.
A word of warning: This week's article is a rant. Read at your own risk.

Did anyone read a recent issue of Time by any chance? They had a major coverage of a new Testosterone crème that will become commercially available this summer, and - of course - how COULD they pass up the opportunity to mash in some bashing of the sport of bodybuilding.

To their credit, they didn't go as far as to claim that everyone working out with weights is a steroid-pumped, violent spouse abuser, as some other publications have suggest throughout the years, but the article was skewed nonetheless. As a summary for those of you who have not read the article in question, the big deal is what a couple of researchers have dubbed "The Adonis Complex."

"They didn't go as far as to claim that everyone working out with weights is a steroid-pumped, violent spouse abuser ..."

The basic idea is that men of today are more fixated on their looks than their female counterparts (is that why my wife takes 45 minutes in bathroom every morning, while I only need 10 - shower included?), and don't shy away from anything to become incredibly, Hulk-sized buffed. To prove their point, they roll out some truly tragic teen and adult statistics, and make some comparisons to the development of G.I. Joe through the years.

Bottom line: If you work out with weights and aspire to fend off your dad's potbelly for as long as you can, you're brainwashed by Hollywood, bodybuilding mags, and toys aimed at boys in recent years.

My Response: Get A Life

G.I. Joe was still scrawny when I grew up. Superman didn't have 30-inch arms and a jaw wider than his forehead yet. Arnold was the only really big guy on the silver screen, and was generally considered a meathead by the sheer fact that he had peaked biceps.

So how come I am still a bodybuilder? What about you guys? Did YOU suddenly feel forced to get huge, because a toy made you certain that you'd never get a girlfriend unless you put on 80 pounds of muscle - preferably in three days, so that you could make it in time for the big date on Friday?

I see the point they're trying to make, and it's truly sad that some people actually GET influenced to go to extremes. But does that hold across the board? Is it fair to say that anyone who tries to stay in shape is solely focused on "looking good" like some wannabe Calvin Klein model? Does working out equal having the world revolve around looks?


"Arnold was the only really big guy on the silver screen, and was generally considered a meathead by the sheer fact that he had peaked biceps."

Nobody can deny the positive cosmetic aspects of bodybuilding. Who wouldn't like to grow their biceps by an inch? But to go from that positive reinforcement to a general, nationwide unhealthy obsession just doesn't make sense to me.

Another thing was that they made some interesting claims about what can and can't be achieved without drugs: if you have visible muscle, you have to be on steroids. They added a disclaimer about the possibility of a few extreme cases with natural hormonal imbalance, but as a rule, you have to use drugs to get big.

Bull. Granted, the IFBB pros are hardly natural, but there ARE enough natural competitions out there - with stringent drug tests - to prove that hard work and disciplined diet indeed CAN make you buffed. Never to the gargantuan proportions of a Mr. Olympia lineup, but surely enough to get even the most self-conscious person to feel pretty darn good about himself. According to the authors, I would have to be on drugs to reach 225 pounds at 5-foot-10, and I suspect that a good part of you would fall under their suspicion as well.

They actually DID bring up something that I appreciated - pro-hormones aren't the free ride to muscledome that the marketers want us to believe. Especially when taken by boys in their lower teens. It's not quite as forceful as a full-blown steroid, but they alter the hormone balance and can cause considerable damage to a young body if abused.

The bad news was that they - of course - took the opportunity to take a stab at creatine, fat burners, and other common supplements. Not as in openly putting up the red flag, but more stealthily drape it in the same cloak of suspicion as pre-hormones and illegal steroids.

Bottom line: We are supposed to be scrawny and weak, or at least not expect to gain more than a few ounces a year without resorting to drugs.

The irony is that by putting these limits into people's head, they make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. What if you don't WANT to be scrawny? Well, the message is pretty clear:

"If you still want to get buff, you must use drugs."

Nice going, guys.

Thanks,