In my experience, its not the level of conditioning that the average person finds gross. I find, most people feel today's BB'ers are "too big". With that said, I think most average people end up seeing a pic of Ronnie (b/c he is (was) the most popular guy in the sport) towards the end of his career and see his wide waist/gut.
They then get the impression that BB'ing is about huge gigantic bloated gut looking guys and that the "golden era" was ideal because people had small waists. People take one example (a bad one too. See Ronnie in his prime) and make generalizations.