Why are bodybuilders tan?
August 2, 2006 11:42 PM   Subscribe

Why the hell do bodybuilders use self tanner?

Everytime I see a bodybuilder it seems they are orange in color and extensively use self tanner. Why is this?

It seems that some of them want to change their race such as these guys.
posted by bd to Society & Culture (13 answers total)
The old-school reasoning is that the darker color makes muscle tone appear more ripped and cut.
posted by frogan at 11:46 PM on August 2, 2006

Yeah, looking at that picture, the gleam of the lights is white, so by making the skin color darker you're increasing contrast between your skintone and the highlights.
posted by kindall at 11:49 PM on August 2, 2006

Yep, it's for definition.
posted by teleskiving at 1:28 AM on August 3, 2006

For the record, pretty much everyone who performs under bright lights either self-tans like that, or puts on really exaggerated make-up (stage makeup). I used to know a bunch of girls involved in gymnastics and calisthenics, and they would all self-tan to a horrific shade of orange for performances.
posted by jacalata at 2:10 AM on August 3, 2006

You can actually apply it in such a way to add to the appearance of definition...put more in areas that you want to appear darker along side a muscle that you want to have stand out.
posted by livinginmonrovia at 2:47 AM on August 3, 2006

And/or they could just be very vain.
posted by orange swan at 7:13 AM on August 3, 2006

Because they're having an affair?

I tend to agree with those who suggest chiascuro, though...
posted by baylink at 8:42 AM on August 3, 2006

It could also be to a large degree now a cultural norm. Perhaps the enhancement of definition was an original reason, but now it's what bodybuilders do. Thus, if one doesn't want to be considered "odd" by other bodybuilders, one conforms to the cultural standard.
posted by The Michael The at 9:51 AM on August 3, 2006

cf. Kenneth Saltman's essay on bodybuilding titled 'The Strong Arm of the Law,' (abstract, with link to pdf for $) I think there might be a lot in this essay if you want to pursue that 'change their race' line of reasoning you describe, and also to explore an extension of The Michael The's suggestion that its just to conform to a certain type of normativity. Though, it probably also is just to make their muscles look more defined.
posted by jrb223 at 10:10 AM on August 3, 2006

I always wondered if they might as well go all the way and have someone airbrush in gradients of tan to further enhance the cut.

But according to my body building friend this is actually illegal.
posted by bitdamaged at 10:33 AM on August 3, 2006

Whoa. I've never seen that before. They look metallic!
posted by small_ruminant at 11:55 AM on August 3, 2006

They've been bronzed alive! --But to be helpful, I think it is for the same reason they shave/wax any and all body hair. They want their muscles visible. If humans had invisible skin this would be an easier task, but then we'd all look pretty buff.
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:10 PM on August 3, 2006

I have had occassion to hang out with professional bodybuilders in the past, and got to know them quite well. These are people with some very severe body perception and self-image problems. I came to view it as the male form of anorexia. So some of it may be an extreme form of getting the "perfect tan."

However, a more likely explanation is to counteract the side effects of steroid use. Using steroids at high doses will frequently cause severe acne breakouts on the arms, back and face, primarily. Bodybuilders have learned that heavy tanning both reduces the likelihood/severity of the outbreak and helps disguise those acne sores that do appear.
posted by centerweight at 2:20 PM on August 5, 2006

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