Steroid use and abuse is, regretfully, commonplace amongst top athletes and weightlifters who wish to maximise and enhance their sporting prowess. However, it is now almost a social expectation for young men to utilise illegal supplementation to better their body image. All thanks to the marketing campaign of clothes brands such as Hollister and Superdry, who are using increasingly muscled models to show off their latest outfits. The concerning use of social media by these companies as an outlet to further their campaigns has resulted in a warped image of the average male body, making the ideal physique an unachievable paradigm of muscle, and men simply cannot cope!
A spokesman from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said that the average age of steroid users had dropped dramatically from 30 to 23, and that the problem was so common and widespread amongst young men that they had in fact advised multiple gyms to provide sharp bins for the safe disposal of needles. Not only is this both abhorrent and shocking, it also points to the deeply ingrained culture within young gym goers to take steroids as they cannot achieve the sculpted body they yearn for through natural means! This is due to the underhand use of Photoshop and social media sites, like Facebook, by clothing companies to promote their own product in a way which alienates the general population of men in the UK, due to the exaggerated masculine features of the models used. Women have been dealing and suffering with this problem for years, but for men this is a relatively new adversity which the modern era has thrown at them, and they are frankly unprepared and incompetent in dealing with it.
It is a well-documented fact that men prefer to deal with their problems alone, in place of sharing their burdens with other people who could help them better. It is this mentality which is allowing social media pressures to drive men to the extremes in search of the perfect body which conforms to the modern expectation, and in doing so sacrifice their health in order to perfect their image.
One example of a person who paid the ultimate price for what, in his mind, was the ultimate body, was Aziz Shavershian, better known as Zyzz, an Australian bodybuilder who transformed himself from a "skinny kid" to "the father of modern day aesthetics" through extensive use of steroids and growth hormones. Zyzz's story began when, at the age of 14, he began to feel inadequate and out of place due to his small frame and weak body. He subsequently transformed himself "miraculously" into the pinup boy of amateur body building. Such a change was only possible through illegal steroids and, on the 5th of August 2011, he died aged just 22. Although the autopsy concluded that it was an undiagnosed heart problem which claimed his life, it is widely believed that steroid abuse was just as pivotal in his demise. What is more troubling is the legacy which Zyzz left behind him. Men felt as though they could understand and connect with Zyzz's story and to some he is an idol who they wish to emulate! With nearly 200,000 followers on his Facebook page after his death, it is clear that 'Zyzz' has a strong fanbase of people who, like him, feel effeminate and ashamed of their bodies, due to social pressures, and will go to any lengths to transform themselves. No matter what the cost.
Original illustration by Issy von Schmidt