I’ve touched on the subject of attractiveness in both the strong sex and the fair sex before, but for a while I’ve found myself intrigued by the work of J. Sanilac (a.k.a. Evil Vizier on Twitter), and once again I’ve been reading up online about the ever-fascinating topic of performance-enhancing drugs. As J. Sanilac points out both on Twitter and in her great essay, “Dispelling Beauty Lies”, women have an array of makeup and cosmetic surgery options that are very reliable and very effective at improving appearance. Men? Not so much. As she puts it:
Of the three main factors in male attractiveness, only muscular strength is under your control, and even that to a limited degree. Fashions are bland, and makeup is out of the question. All in all, men’s ability to improve the appearance they inherited is much less than women’s.
While that’s true, the sexes are more alike in certain respects than it might seem at first glance. Men profess to prefer the “no makeup” look that’s only achievable by the meticulous use of makeup; men profess to prefer the “no cosmetic surgery” look that’s only achievable by a full-throated embrace of cosmetic surgery. What it takes in terms of artifice for the vast majority of even attractive women to achieve the “naturally attractive” look is an aspect of life men tend to be totally and curiously oblivious to.
Yes, Virginia, both Sexes are Oblivious!
Amusingly enough, there’s a parallel to this in masculine beauty: the “no gym rat” look that’s only achievable by going the gym like it’s your religion, the “no steroids” look that’s only achievable with a whole medicine cabinet’s worth of steroids. Like men, women are totally and curiously oblivious to what it takes to achieve this “naturally attractive” look they profess to prize.
Consider how women tend to think any not-medically-necessary use of steroids is a turn-off and a deal-breaker; you see it over and over again if you search online. This Reddit thread is a typical example. Yet these same women practically drool over this guy’s physique and think all men should put in the work to look like a man who literally played a Norse god in a movie. You see that too over and over again if you search online. This Reddit thread is also typical.
Well, hate to break the bad news to you, girls, but steroids are about the only realistic way the overwhelming majority of men’s bodies will ever look like that. Sure, if you make working out, training, and dieting your whole way of life over a period of years or even decades many if not most men could get there. As far as I understand it Hayden Christensen, for example, in the three years between “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith” achieved near the upper limit of what most untrained men could build naturally in that amount of time :
40lbs of muscle is doable in 3 years naturally without juicing if you’re fully untrained. It’s definitely possible when the studio pays for trainers and dietitians to make food for you.
As a Hollywood actor, though, who was basically paid to do it, he had little in the way of other obligations (like a day job), so he could devote his full energies to bulking up for his role. Even a third of the sort of effort Christensen reportedly had to put in would preclude a man with a full-time job from doing much else, like spending much time or attention on his woman, and given that such a man would still not be on as good or as intense a program as Christensen had, he’d have to stay in such a “monk mode” for perhaps a decade to achieve the same results; indeed, it’s entirely possible even with more time the end result, as in the physique you max out at in such a regimen, would still be less impressive even after a decade’s work.
If you start out when you’re around the age of 20 that means a big portion of your most prime years are frittered away in the grind. So although it’s not true stricto sensu it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say, like this amusing Purple Pill Debate Reddit poster did, that “Almost all Chads are taking anabolic steroids. You can’t really ever hope to be a Chad unless you take them yourself.”
The Dark Side of the Pharmacopeia is a Pathway to many Abilities some consider to be Unnatural
Steroids are powerful. In a striking 1996 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it was found that men given superphysiologic doses of testosterone (i.e. raising testosterone levels higher than those found naturally in any human) gained far more muscle mass and strength than those who took nothing and worked out the natural way. So strong is the effect that those who took testosterone and did no exercise at all actually gained more muscle than those who did the exercise without the steroid. Let that sink in: you can get further by just taking the steroid than you can by exercise alone.
Makes me feel like a bit of a chump for doing my strength training program the natural way. But I hate needles, dread the possibility of a program that might necessitate I be put on testosterone replacement therapy from my thirties onward, find the very idea of juggling these different drugs and hormones on and off these cycles a real chore, and the side effects like shrunken balls, infertility, hair loss, and acne (I had the last one pretty bad during and after puberty) make me flinch, so… 🤷♀️
On the other hand, my physiology has always responded great to corticosteroids whenever I’ve taken them; for me even more than for other people it’s truly “the wonder drug”, since they pretty much cure every malady I ever get. I even find their pep to be much better than what caffeine gives me, and with no adverse effects whatsoever to boot, other than making me kinda hot (I’m heat-sensitive enough and live in a hot enough climate that I feel uncomfortably hot even for much of winter, let alone the rest of the year…). I can’t help but speculate that I might also respond really well to the anabolic steroids, but the effects of those are completely different from the corticosteroids, so who knows?
There are real trade-offs to taking testosterone, anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, SARMs, or whatever other drugs along these lines, but at the risk of sounding like that old Nazi doctor from “A View to a Kill” I honestly think their potential to improve the experience of life is severely underrated, and underutilized in today’s world. This particular poster’s experience while on a cycle of SARMs is rather typical:
People tell me I look leaner and treat me with more respect, I have become one of the best players in my football team and my trainer is impressed. I get more attention from guys and girls. […] My whole life I was a very chubby guy, bullied and taken advantage of, I sucked at sports and because of my asthma, I could barely run. 2 years ago I decided to join a Gym to change this. […] I looked better but not even close to my ideal body. […] I just wanted to look a bit better. I did some research, found out that most actors and Instagram influencers are on some sort of drug and decided to buy some. The first 2 weeks I felt ripped off, nothing was different, but a couple of weeks later I noticed that I had better recovery from workouts, I was able to run for longer and became… Better? At most physical things.
Hmm. It’s well known that testosterone is the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth, making men not only look better but also feel better and to an extent actually be better across the board, and indeed it’s thought that high-powered executives are keeping their hormones at a young man’s level so they can retain that youthful aggressive start-up-style edge well into their old age. While men’s options for improving appearance are more limited than women’s, men do have the key advantage of their most effective method being much more comprehensive in its beneficial effects than any of the techniques available to women.
Women have embraced only a small fraction of the full power of modern technology and technique to improve their appearance and themselves, but men have embraced a smaller fraction still of the technology and technique available to them, probably on account of the strong sex’s most effective method, performance-enhancing drugs, eliciting the Pavlovian reflex of “drugs bad!” from the puritanical masses and various members of the ruling class.
Nevertheless, consider that for all the demonization of steroids as being so horrible for you, when you look into it there isn’t much behind the curtain. Steroids might give you a lethal heart attack a few years earlier than you would have otherwise had one, but smoking tobacco (or marijuana) might give you lung cancer, a much worse way to go, while not even offering you the chance to look like Thor, yet you can buy the latter off the shelf! Consider also how doctors during a spiraling obesity crisis that’s expected to give most people diabetes within a few generations hand out long-term-weight-gain-inducing SSRIs like candy if it’s to combat depression, yet flinch at how “unhealthy” it is for someone to take some steroids to build muscle and look better without having to make the gym their whole life!
As I said above, sure, there are real trade-offs, but the little secret, for both men and women, for both performance-enhancing drugs and other things, is that the number of people for whom the trade-offs of these techniques society considers to be on the dark side are worthwhile is much greater than commonly assumed. Makes you think, doesn’t it?