Is the secretive world of steroids giving men unrealistic body image expectations?

Steroids. Roids. Anabolic steroids. Juice.

Whatever they are known as to you, anabolic steroids are more and more becoming an almost societal norm that is hidden away….but used by many. It’s a complex way of looking at things but it is undeniable. The influence of social media has been quite clearly massive and women’s body image expectations have come a long way, they’re still not quite au natural but they have certainly improved in terms of the transparency and reduction of air brushing and other methods of improving pictures to unrealistic proportions. And don’t get us wrong this still is happening but that’s not what we are here to talk about. We’re here to discuss the forgotten topic surrounding social media. Male body image.

Male body image has been tainted in recent times with the increase in your everyday gym bro suddenly becoming a mini-Arnie overnight. As the amount of followers you have becomes more financially important, the need to stand out does too. And with this comes the highly competitive world of ‘looking good’. Everyone wants to look the ‘best’.

More attention = More likelihood of a follow

More followers = more money per post when advertising

You don’t need to be a math genius to work that formula out in your head. So now you might say everyone wanting to look and be in their best shape is good for the promotion of good health in society, no? Well I would say if we are competing to be healthy inside and out then yes there is absolutely no harm in this whatsoever. HOWEVER. This really isn’t the case. How many of these large follower insta gym bros are pushing the concept of eating a balanced diet at you and doing an appropriate amount of exercise each week? Most likely…….none. We do provide a breakdown of vitamins in Our Vitamin Guide if you want to learn how to incorporate all of these into your daily consumption. Whilst there are some really good guys out there like James Smith who, whilst admitting to being foolish and cycling steroids for a very short period of time in his late teens / early twenties, looks to cut down the constant marketing and product pushing or concept accepting and breaking things down to the bare bones. Whereas you have these huge steroid head guys out there, who aren’t really talented at anything besides injecting themselves and training hard, who are pushing BCAA and subpar clothing lines in your face from every angle. It is often that these guys are the most popular.

Whilst there is the argument that Arnold did steroids and that doesn’t mean you instantly get big. No absolutely not. You still need to eat fairly right and work very hard to look like Arnold. But that’s exactly the point. To look like Arnold you have to do that. People forget that he is a 7x Mr Olympia, not just a Hollywood actor. He had to train exceptionally hard every single day to look the way he did. He makes some of these insta guys looks like complete nobodies. So don’t bring the argument of still having to work hard. It is no magic pill indeed but it sure does help…..a lot.

Going back to what we touched on earlier regarding James Smith. He admits he did use steroids once. This is the key. The vast majority of the fitness industry is littered with guys who deny constantly or refuse to comment on the matter and then shove products in your face to buy to look like them. And so you buy them, you work hard, eat right and take your expensive supplements. But why after even a year – why haven’t your shoulders grown to be as wide as a door frame and got an immaculate 8 pack with zero % body fat? I think you can sense what our answer is here. At the end of the day you can choose what you do with your body. Although we massively do not condone or endorse the use of them. They provide massive health risks and complications that can effect you for the rest of your life!

So how do they work?

In simplistic terms, steroids will come in contact with muscle cells and manipulate the DNA inside of them to trigger an increased amount of protein synthesis. This will help muscles grow after being damaged by exercise and then adapt to the extra stress that the increasing amount of weight lifted causes.

As great and simple this may sounds it of course comes with massive side effects. After all the biology of your body is extremely complex and has been formed over years and years of evolution. Interfering with the composition and chemical balance will cause changes. And in this case these are not good changes.

These are such as ;

  • Urination problems
  • low sperm count (decreases likelihood of having children)
  • higher Bad cholesterol
  • Libido affected – (sex drive)
  • Hair loss
  • Acne
  • Aggressive tendencies
  • Becoming paranoid

These are just a few examples of repercussions of taking steroids. Along with this testosterone levels once off of them will most likely plummet and leave them with additional complications and the need for testosterone replacement therapy. This is as taking steroids disrupt your body’s natural hormone production system.

Not to mention the risk of unclean needles used to inject into your body which increases the risk of getting : HIV, Hepatitis and ulcers in veins. This admittedly is when needles are shared however there are some people out there who will undoubtedly be advised by their friends in the gym and not know these risks, no matter how basic it might seem.

Now there are different reasons people take steroids such as :

  • Muscle building
  • Boosting endurance

With more reasons of course but the muscle building is where this is targeted mainly. This is as social media gathers more clicks and follows based on an impressive appearance rather than some steroid head running for 17 hours straight. (bit of an exaggeration but you get the point). So this is the main reason that steroids will be used.

Is there a risk of addicition?

YES! Massive risk of addiction. Like with many substances. Your body can begin to yearn for this drug after initial use and then going cold turkey to get off them will cause problems in itself.

What could going cold turkey cause ;

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • muscle / joints can begin to hurt
  • Concentration problems
  • Fatigue

Again these are just a couple of problems. They also have a huge impact when used in adolescents. This is as it can stunt growth and cause bones to age quicker then they usually would in a healthy individual.

You will often find people will cycle off and on justifying a reduced amount of risk in the use of these steroids. However, this will not remove risk. As well as this another term you may here is ‘stacking’. This means that someone is using multiple substances in order to improve effectiveness. This will not be entered into the gym dictionary as it is related to a subject in which we don’t think should be glorified and should be exposed for what it really is.

What are they known as?

Steroids have many different forms but below are some extremely common ones with their slang names :

  • Methandienone or (Dbol)
  • Anadrol or (drol)
  • Durabolin or (NPP)

So how is this affecting body image?

Well it’s very similar to the problems with female social media presences. People on social media are looked up to due to huge following. Most of the time these people, whilst having not much genuine talent, look very good (appearance wise). Therefore, these bodies can often be linked with success and admiration. Young guys will look at these people and want to be like them so will constantly be chasing this goal and can often be left feeling deflated and upset when they spend large amounts of time and money working hard in the gym and taking the ‘right’ supplements and not getting there. It can also lead the average person to believe that this is the norm and they are actually different and not normal for looking the way they look. This takes a similar point that our article on why the fitness industry must change however is focusing more upon steroids.

So what really is wrong here? Well the hidden nature of steroid use makes it ever increasingly hard to tell if someone just works really hard or juices up. It takes away from those who maybe are slightly more genetically gifted than others and works very hard, eating the right diet who are now being called out as a ‘fake natty’.

A fake natty is someone who claims to not use steroids but actually does. The fact this term has even had to be coined proves the problem enough. This is as there are so many people at this point who look to lie about this that they have actually had to be categorised into their own group.

Why lie?

It’s not hard to see why people lie about this. Many people would end up becoming uninterested in them as the large perspective around steroids is that it is, unnatural, harmful to your body and is a form of cheating at the gym. The last one may sound strange but you know it makes sense. And if these people lose their following then they would most likely lose their income. So you may feel sympathy for them in this respect but why? Don’t build a façade where your income is based of off a essentially what is an enhancement whilst pretending you’re on a level playing field with everyone else. And keeping this up all just to sell them products they probably don’t need.

So next time you feel annoyed about not looking like these insta guys. Just remember they will probably be on testosterone therapy soon and likely will face further complications down the road whilst everyone else forgets about them and gets on with their life.

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