Experts Say, Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Bodybuilding Legend, Was Unhappy With His Muscles

Arnold Schwarzenegger, known for his strength and resilience, reveals in a new documentary that he was never satisfied with his body. The Netflix series “Arnold” covers his life as a bodybuilder, movie star, and former governor of California. Even during his peak in the 1970s, Schwarzenegger felt inadequate about his physical appearance. This dissatisfaction haunted him, always leaving him wanting more.

Image Credit: Harry Chase, Los Angeles Times, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In the documentary, he admits that his confident persona on camera doesn’t always reflect his true feelings. He confesses that when he’s alone, he looks at his body and acknowledges that it’s not where he wants it to be. Although the precise language may not have existed back then, the pressure on young men to achieve physical perfection is well-documented. The media and sports perpetuate the idea that the ideal male body should be big and muscular, influencing the pursuit of muscularity goals.

Dysmorphia Vs. Body Dissatisfaction

Nagata, a researcher on the topic, explains that pursuing the unattainable “perfect” body can lead to dissatisfaction and muscle dysmorphia. Muscle dysmorphia, also known as “bigorexia,” is a condition where individuals chronically feel dissatisfied with their muscularity and perceive their bodies as inadequate, despite others disagreeing. It is more common in males, especially bodybuilders, and can result in excessive exercise, steroid abuse, and eating disorders. Muscle dysmorphia is officially recognized as a psychiatric diagnosis, although its prevalence is not well-studied or diagnosed frequently, as it is generally rare.

Image Credit: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Making A Film Of It

In the documentary about Arnold Schwarzenegger, director Lesley Chilcott approached his body image experience with sensitivity. She used unused footage from the 1977 weightlifting documentary Pumping Iron, showing Schwarzenegger and his friend weightlifting on a California beach while onlookers watched in fascination. Despite his success in bodybuilding, Schwarzenegger admitted he was never satisfied with his body.