“Strangers with Candy”: Teenage Girls on Steroids

Strangers with Candy – Extensive media attention has recently been given to the alleged widespread steroid use by teenage girls; the rates have largely been discounted as overstated even by anti-steroid experts such as Harrison Pope, MD. But nonetheless, the fear of female steroid users have contributed to the collective paranoia regarding the dangers of steroids.

Occasionally, television and cinema explore the topic of anabolic steroid use by women, usually for comic effect. Such is the case with the sitcom, Strangers with Candy. The main character is Jerri Blank – a 46 year-old former drug addict who lives with her parents and has re-enrolled as a freshman at Flatpoint High School. Given the absurdity of the premise of this Comedy Central sitcom, we can only expect an equally unrealistic treatment of the topic of female steroid use.

Jerri is a member of the Flatpoint High School girls’ track relay team. She performs absymally in the event and is given an ultimatum by her coach – either improve her performance or get kicked off the team. She is told that she has a body fat percentage of 80% with the remainder likely consisting of scar tissue. She is “pressured” to do whatever it takes to improve.

Jerri is reluctant to work hard at anything but decides that the prurient lesbian opportunities of tub time and the locker room make the effort worthwhile. She ventures into NutriWhiz Nutrition Center seeking a miracle in a bottle. A chubby store clerk, played by Andy Richter, initially recommends a legal supplement protocol that will produce marginal improvements over six months. But given Jerri’s desperation, he reveals a syringe and gives her a bottle of injectable anabolic steroids. He dismisses side effects and assures her that steroids will neither shrivel her testicles or reduce her sperm count (since she is a girl); the only real concern from the use of anabolic steroids is brain cancer.

Strangers with Candy comically explores several of the possible motivations often suggested for teenager steroid use. Peer pressure, body image issues, coach encouragement, and the alleged unscrupulous supplement salesmen who use supplements only as a gateway to dealing steroids.

Jerri experiences miraculous results and becomes the star athlete of her relay team. After a track meet, she reveals “Jerri’s secret little helpers – steroids.” After minimal discussion of clitoral enlargement, the girls all eagerly and enthusiastically volunteer to allow Jerri to “inject them in the behind” with steroids. Accordingly, the sexuality of any female who chooses to use “male hormones” is suspect.

Furthermore, this scene displays the producers ignorance about the method of administration of injectable anabolic-androgenic steroids. Jerri suggests intravaneous route when she expresses the need to find a vein in the “nude behinds” of her teammates.

The results of the Flatpoint High School track team’s experimentation with anabolic steroids is a smashing success. Detection of their steroid use is cleverly avoided and the athletes experience few side effects other than facial hair growth reminiscent of ZZ Top.

As Jerri enjoys the true rewards of her steroid use, frolicking with her teammates in the hot tub, she explains the lessons that the steroid experience has taught her:

“Only losers do drugs unless they help you win. Then only winners do drugs!”

This episode listed several potential side effects of anabolic steroid use: testicular atrophy, reduced sperm count, clitoral enlargement, facial hair, and brain cancer. All of the side effects were summarily dismissed or the characters simply failed to acknowledge them. Interestingly, the testicular atropy and effect on sperm count had no relevance for the population group involved (i.e. females). Clitoral enlargement was referenced without concern and the excessive facial hair was never acknowledgement although clearly apparent to viewers. The one side effect that was give credence as a real and established contraindication was brain cancer. Most steroid researchers and anti-steroid advocates will agree that there is no scientific support for a causal relationship between steroid use and brain cancer. This episode probably references Lyle Alzado’s unfounded claim that steroids caused the rare brain lymphoma that contributed to his untimely death. Of course this rare brain lymphoma is inevitably linked to certain auto-immune disorders in 99% of such cases.

Regrettably, depictions of steroids and their side effects, even from silly Comedy Central sitcoms, ultimately reinforce a lot of misinformation available concerned steroids.

Strangers with Candy

About Millard Baker

Millard Baker writes about anabolic steroids and performance enhancing drugs and their use and impact in sport and society. He discusses the medical and non-medical uses of anabolic-androgenic steroids while advocating a harm reduction approach to steroid education.

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing the information regarding the teenage girls who take steroids.. I have seen so many girls at this age doing the same to look attractive..n