The body positivity movement has been integral to reassessing our understanding of personal health. It has helped us shift the topic of conversation from aesthetic appearances to a more holistic approach to ourselves, a much-needed break from the unrealistic body standards peddled by television, commercials and mainstream cinema.
It’s been a much-needed breath of fresh air in an industry that has consistently peddled fad diets, fitness hacks, and health tips across pop culture. Although the conversation around body positivity has mostly centered around women, slowly men too have started to find a place in it. A really welcome change indeed.
For so long, lean, athletic bodies with rippling muscles and a seriously shredded core were the prerequisite for most male actors to be taken seriously in most modern action movies. The appeal is understandable, especially amid the plethora of superhero movies these days, where these heroes are encouraged to push the limits of their bodies in order to get as close to their comic book counterparts as possible. .
Millions of impressionable young men idolize these stars so much that they devote their physical and mental well-being to the pursuit of looking like their on-screen heroes. Except these heroes undergo inhuman workouts and diet plans to look the way they do. And more often than not, all gains come at a high personal cost, which usually goes unaddressed.
Thankfully, Hollywood’s current generation of male stars have done their part to give their audiences a much-needed reality check by sharing everything going on to make sure they look the way they do in front of them. the camera.
Speaking to JOE UK, Miles Teller shared his experience going from lanky dude to his best to star Tom Cruise Top Gun: Maverick“For me, gaining weight was the hardest part, man.”
Teller continued, “For breakfast it was like six eggs and then, you know, you work out, then you have a shake and then it was two lunches. Every lunch would be like a chicken breast, a full potato and some broccoli, and I would have two, and then I remember there was another snack after that, and I remember for dinner in particular, it was 20 ounces of some fish or steaks. And so you eat so much. That’s really what I didn’t appreciate.
His castmates Jay Ellis and Danny Ramirez also expressed the extreme lengths the cast went to on the sets of Top Gun: Maverick.
Jay said, “Everyone ate water. It was a lot of air that was eaten. Every person in that cast was in the gym every day.” And Danny added: “Every time we hear ‘cut’ then you see everyone falling to the ground, starting to do push-ups, starting to do squats, there were braces and bicep curls happening. “
Channing Tatum is another actor who has often been reduced to his physical appearance. After all, he swooned in front of the public with his skinny, shredded look for the magic mike franchise, which has done wonders for his career, establishing him as Hollywood’s premier male icon.
However, he almost refused to return for the third part of the magic mike series, because it had an impact on his daily life.
On The Kelly Clarkson Show, Channing was asked if he trains regularly when he’s not filming for his movies, to which he replied, “Even if you train, being this fit doesn’t come naturally.” He continued, “It’s not even healthy. You have to starve yourself. I don’t think when you’re that skinny it’s actually healthy.”
Even Hollywood idol Zac Efron explained he’d rather not look like he did in 2017 Baywatchwhere he played the role of a lifeguard.
On Hot Ones, Efron said: “Really, it was so hard. You work with almost no leeway. You have things like water under your skin that you worry about. Turn your six-pack into a of four. Shit like that. It’s not… it’s just stupid. It’s just not real.
Zac went into more detail about the type of messy eating practices he had to go through to look shredded for the camera. In his docuseries, Down to earth with Zac Efron, he confessed“I went, like, years without eating carbs. When I did Baywatch, I had no carbs for about six months. I almost lost my mind. You need it. Like, it’s so good.”
Closer to home, whether it’s Bollywood or some regional films, the muscular physique of the male protagonist is often used as bait for unsuspecting youngsters. Six-pack abs and burling biceps lure impressionable young boys into the trap of lifelong body dysmorphia.
While the major physical transformations are part of the appeal of these films, they aren’t inherently problematic, as they can often show just how capable the human body is of being sculpted.
Much of the traditional Bollywood hero’s appeal lies in the square shoulders of his “physicality”.
Take a look at the trailer for Aditya Roy Kapur’s next film ‘OM’, where he seems to have left his forever-desperate lover status behind, instead packing on several pounds of muscle for the action flick. It is clear that with this role, he is poised to join the pantheon of Indian actors setting high body standards within the industry as well as the country en masse.
This notorious list includes the likes of Tiger Shroff from Heropanti and Baaghi fame, Ram Charan and Jr. NTR of RRR, as well as industry veterans like John Abraham and Hrithik Roshan.
Like an artist chisels a block of marble in hopes of sculpting a masterpiece, so do these Bollywood celebrities. And so does their army of passionate fans, imitating them.
But the difference is that the celebrity has an army of professionals who dedicate their waking hours to keeping the star in tip-top shape, while being generously compensated for their efforts, while the average fan doesn’t have the privilege of asking for such indulgences in their personal lives. fitness trail.
Instead, they are simply served platitudes upon platitudes that “dream bodies” can only be achieved if you work hard enough. Thus, any burden of responsibility is transferred to the individual trying to follow in the footsteps of his idol. So what happens when the quasi-religious devotion to fitness regimes and diets doesn’t match the visible changes these fans might have wanted? It breeds self-contempt. It breeds body dysmorphism, which in turn can snowball into a variety of other mental disorders.
Again, the problem is not that such exaggerated physiques have become commonplace in the Indian film industry. The problem is that such bodies are considered normal and easy to achieve, when in fact they are anything but. Also, not to mention the subtlety with which CGI is often used to alter these heroes’ bodies to make them even more intimidating, it often goes unmentioned.
So, at the very least, we expect our Indian heroes to explain to their audience the realities of building those physiques. Don’t disrespect your adoring fans by pretending these transformations are achievable for the ordinary junta. If anything, you owe them the whole truth, including the harsh realities of building and maintaining such physiques.