The Man Whose Arm Exploded

Thursday, March 15, 2007
Last night I happened across a program on TLC about a body builder who went to extremes in order to achieve the body he desired. The program began with a warning “This Program Contains Material That May Be Disturbing to Some Viewers. Parental Discretion is Advised”. My parents were nowhere to be found so I decided I’m old enough to watch it by myself. The title of this post, “The Man Whose Arm Exploded”, is the title of the program I watched and frankly I was disgusted. Even with the warning, and knowing it was going to be about bodybuilding, I felt sick watching it.

When I was about 12 or 13, thanks to seeing Conan the Barbarian on video, I had a huge crush on Arnold Schwarzenegger. His giant rippling muscles were fantastic and I fantasized that one day I would end up with a man like that. Boy how times have changed. I no longer dream of some giant brawny he-man encircling me with his arms and whisking me of for unknown adventures. Body shape and size mean very little to me when it comes to a potential mate. It has more to do with personality, intelligence, humour, and compassion. Wait…I’ve gotten off topic once again. Basically I used to like muscle-bound, monosyllabic Neanderthal types. I quickly grew out of that.

Back to the program. Exploding Arms is about Gregg Valentino, a bodybuilder who used testosterone and ultimately steroids (and eventually began dealing) in order to increase his size. If you have a look at the clip below (be warned it is quite graphic and includes blood and needles) you will be able to see what he ended up looking like. At one point, he developed a massive infection in one of his biceps and tries to drain it himself. Without going into too much detail, he ends up in the hospital and the bicep is “deformed” compared to the other one. The program also looks at other former professional body builders and the physical consequences they experienced after using steroids. It also introduces us to a young man just starting out in the business and his determination to do whatever it takes to achieve the body he so desires.

The Wikipedia article suggests that Valentino possibly suffers from Muscle Dysmorphia. While watching the program last night he certainly reminded me of individuals who undergo plastic surgery after surgery because they are never satisfied with how they look - these people usually have a condition called Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

I’ve never really understood people who have elective plastic surgery. We’re all unhappy with some aspect of our bodies (if you’re not – you’re one of the rare lucky ones) but I’ve never considered the idea of an eye/chin/face lift, butt implants, lypsosuction, bigger boobs, or collagen injected lips. I feel the same way about body building and using drugs to get the body you want. I have no problem with muscles – it’s muscles taken to the extreme that makes me ill. Now, I know I said in the previous post on nudity that we should be accepting of each other regardless of body type/shape/size. And I do feel that way. Men (and women) like Gregg Valentine though do not have natural bodies. The human body is not meant to look the way they’ve transformed their bodies, nor are we designed to function properly with muscles that size. We have a certain amount of fat on our bodies for a reason. I’ve had my issues with body image and likely will for years to come. But it makes me sad when people feel the need to take their image obsessions to such drastic extremes.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Those disease of the week shows always have the best titles don't they? I actually saw part of that show too and was pretty flabbergasted.

Jocelyn said...

I agree with you that these bodybuilders are suffering from deeper body issues than the rest of us traditional "I hate my hips" folks. And I'm really sorry about that Schwarzenneger (okay, can't spell it) crush, even though you were an adolescent.

Tanya said...

My Auntie Carol goes for loads of plastic surgery. But that's a post all on its own.

Kate and I saw this programme too. It's really sad the lengths that people go to to actually feel 'normal' or acceptable. I don't understand it myself. The bottom line is low self esteem. And that's a whole post on its own.

* (asterisk) said...

I saw this most of this show a few months ago over here. I could hardly watch at some points in the film. Really really grim, where he's trying to syringe all that shit out of his arm (if memory serves). Uuuugghgghhhhh! And the weird square muscles he had. Fucking grim, man.

Gardenia said...

I just rented "Key Largo" - I should buy it, I keep watching it. It amazes me how far we've come as a society with body images. I love the 40's where bodies were natural - some of the stars even did not have perfect teeth - oOOOOOOOh my gosh! It's like now we want something that's not real....why? I don't get it.

Once I had someone tell me I was too tall. (In Christian college) - I looked at her and said, hey, take it up with God, he made me.) I did not get an urge to go have a couple inches taken out of my thigh bones.

I'm disappointed in Arnie - I thought he was sweet, but he couldn't have been. From what I've read, and also being an occasional steroid user (prescription from doc) because of Crohns I know what even short term use can do - makes ya ornery. I would vacuum at 3 a.m. then cry and then yell at the cat. Somehow I never got the muscles though - - - what went wrong?

Nomad said...

when your biceps are as big as your head it's probably time to start slowing it down a little...

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