It certainly looks like Pierini and I have symbiotic blogs. He wrote about body image on his blog not too long ago and after reading it, it filled my mind with enough ideas and opinions to state my own ideas on the matter. It nice to know of blog that stimulates though about fitness and strength training beyond the norm.
For those of you who saw, "Bigger, Stronger, Faster," you saw that a large reason that drives the performance enhancing drug use in all walks of training is the endless desire to be better. Even on a saner, less drug-fueled level, most of our training is a constant cycle of making and exceeding goals on a regular basis. Now, obviously this isn't wrong in and of itself. Where things go wrong is where stop learning to appreciate what we've accomplished. Instead, we fill ourselves with the notion that we can never be good enough.
Another thing that struck me about that movie was most of the people there admitted to wanting to look like someone else, Arnold being the most frequently mentioned. Therein lies another huge problem: when we set our goals about how we want to look and be, we too often think of someone else that we'd like to look like. What we fail to realize is our own individuality.
I doubt I'd be wrong if I said that there is at least two generations of bodybuilders who looked at Arnold and said to themselves, "I want to be like him!"
Looking back on it, I did the same thing, except on a less celebrity-fueled level. I wanted to be built like my dad. To this day, I can stand next to my father and you wouldn't be able to tell that we were father and son. Aside from being much darker than I am, we are somatope-polar opposites.
Still, most of us define how to we're supposed to be from our parents, whether we realize it or not. I may not have caught the Arnold Bug, but I still thought growing up that a real man had to have 8 1/2"+ wrists, like my dad naturally sports. I remember years ago I saw him grab onto and lift a cube-shaped, cast iron machine part that two men could barely lift, let along carry, like he did.
Eventually, I realized that I couldn't (sanely or naturally) turn my leopard-like physique into a hulking bear-of-a-man build like my dad sports. That was probably a moment that saved me a lot of endless searching and disappointment. That inability to accept that and the endless desire to be someone else other than yourself cuts to the heart of body image problems. We're all individuals. It's one thing to want to improve on yourself, push yourself to new limits, and be a better person. It's quite another thing to have someone else in mind other than yourself when you're doing this. If you're doing that to yourself, you're asking for trouble.