Inspirational bodybuilder goes viral after revealing the disability he hid for 17 years
We worry so much about our physical appearance - our weight, our hair, our clothes. Whenever you go out in public, you can't help but feel self-conscious, like everyone's judging you. Life isn't easy. But just imagine how much harder life would be with a physical ability.
Thanks to the Internet, a lot of people with physical disabilities have shared their stories. A one-legged Paralympian showed off his insanely clever Halloween costumes. A woman with no legs shared her Tinder profile, where she described herself with a wicked sense of humor. A woman with a prosthetic chalkboard leg traveled around Europe, taking incredible photos. In the face of tragedy, they didn't let life beat them down. Their inspiring stories let other people with disabilities know that they're not alone.
Bodybuilder Chris Ruben was born with a congenital birth defect in his left hand, but has always worn a glove to hide it. Over the years, he's pursued a career as a powerlifter and motivational speaker, building a huge online following, and all the while, never taking off that black glove. Until now.
In a thirteen minute video called "The Glove Comes Off," Chris drops his typical 'character' to get real with his fans. He's struggled with his physical disability ever since he was a little kid. But now, after seventeen years, he's ready to share it - with his girlfriend, his followers and the world.
"I was born with two fingers on my left hand and a shorter left arm," says Chris. "I teach people about overcoming limitations but this is one of those limitations that I've swept under the rug for myself and I've hidden from everyone else and myself - and I can't any more."
At the two minute and twenty-five second mark, Chris finally takes the glove off, and tells a heartbreaking story from childhood. In middle school, the other kids made fun of him for his disability, shattering his confidence.
"I will never forget this one girl I had a crush on," says Chris. "Everyone was laughing. I said, 'Why is everyone laughing?' And I turned around. She had a stapler [in her hand], making fun of me, pretending to be me, like some sort of crab. I immediately shoved my hand in my pocket and that's where it stayed."
The entire time Chris was at middle school, he put his hand in his pocket. "It was literally to the point where I would almost cry in school if I would put my backpack on and then put my hand in my pocket over my backpack strap," says the bodybuilder. "Because then I would freak out - I couldn't take my backpack off because I refused to take my hand out of my pocket."
But Chris isn't hiding any more. On the same day he shot his incredible video, he shared his hand with his girlfriend for the very first time.
"The main reason I'm doing this is - yes, to get comfortable with myself, but to break that last barrier, that hardest barrier that I've faced, to help anyone that's struggling with something similar," he explained.
Currently Chris's video has over half a million views on YouTube, and forty thousand likes on Reddit. The comments are overwhelmingly positive, with users calling Chris "badass," paying him "mad respect" and praising his bravery in sharing his story.
"As someone with a similar birth defect, this hit home," says a user on Reddit. "I have mad admiration for you taking charge of yourself and creating this video," says a user on YouTube. Meanwhile another YouTube commenter jokes, "Bro, I'd rather have that disability on both my hands than my small penis!"