"I feel terrific about where I am in my life, when I look back at what I've accomplished," 63-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger says in the new issue of Newsweek. "But I feel shitty when I look at myself in the mirror." Finally! A poor-body-image-sufferer who isn't a woman.
Schwarzenegger started bodybuilding when he was 14 years old and went to to be Mr. Universe five times and Mr. Olympia seven times. Even after he stopped competing as a bodybuilder, Schwarzenegger's persona was closely linked with his physique, and the idea that he was so strong he was indestructible. Roles like Conan the Barbarian and the Terminator were rooted in his strapping chest, humongous biceps and washboard abs. He's accomplished much since then — both as an actor and as a politician — so why does it matter if he doesn't have the (steroid-assisted) muscles he once flaunted? Obviously the man has a right to feel bad about his body. And self-confidence is closely linked to self-image. But it's troublesome how much emphasis we put on our outer appearance. We assume that athletic people are also in possession of inner strength, and, conversely, that if you're out of shape you must be weak of mind or spirit. Not necessarily true, of course, yet pervasive. It's not like Arnold's old figure was normal, or natural. And even though he is completely healthy, and his body works, he, like many of us, longs for some kind of ideal — not necessarily based in reality. As someone whose life revolved around maintaining a certain look, Schwarzenegger seems shocked about what has become of him:
"I'm not competing, I'm not ripping off my shirt and trying to sell the body… But when I stand in front of the mirror and really look, I wonder: What the fuck happened here? Jesus Christ. What a beating!"