Zac Efron's 'dad bod transformation' sparks debate about the harmful body expectations on men
Netflix/Paramount

Viewers of Down To Earth With Zac Efron have commented on how different the actor looks these days.

And this has sparked an important debate on how problematic celebrating, or criticising, “body transformations” can be.

After watching Efron's new travel series on Netflix, a small minority of viewers (and an article in the NY Post) have suggested the star now possesses what's known in the streets as a "dad bod"'. This is a body type attributed to men of a particular age who aren't necessarily "ripped" or "hench". Polling suggests that women now view this physique as increasingly desirable.

The Netflix show sees Efron, who is 32, focus on travelling around the world in search of more sustainable ways to live. But of course, some people have commented on how the actor's bearded face and his body look different to how he looked while starring in a Baywatch reboot back in 2017.

Actor Chris O'Dowd made a joke about how ridiculous it is to call Efron's physique a "dad bod", even jokingly accusing him of "cultural appropriation".

People on social media were thirsting over Efron, but simultaneously questioning whether it's helpful to refer to his body type as a "dad bod" when he's still very toned.

Some users pointed out that celebrating his new look could be very triggering for people who could be struggling with their body image or living with eating disorders.

The concept of "transformation" is also quite problematic, as it infers the superiority of one type of body over another, no matter how it is used.

Others pointed out that Efron is a recovering addict and has previously spoken up about never ever wanting to replicate his past physique. In interviews he's explicitly warned people not glamorise his body.

While on The Ellen Show, he urged others to "be your size" because his Baywatch body was "unrealistic".

He said:

That’s too big. For guys, that’s unrealistic. I’m telling you. I got very big and buff for that movie, but I don’t want people to think that’s the best way to be. Like, be your size… I don’t want to glamorise this.

Speaking to Hot Ones back in April about his appearance in Baywatch, Zac said:

I realised that when I was done with that movie, I don’t ever want to be in that good of shape again.You’re working with almost no wiggle room, right? You’ve got things like water under your skin that you’re worrying about, making your six-pack into a four-pack. S**t like that it’s just not … it’s just stupid.

In short, there is no need to pit past Efron against new Efron, or any future Efron. He looks good either way. And whether you've got a "dad bod" or any other physique, let's not make a hierarchy of which bodies are better than others. Because as this story shows, men in and out of the public eye are also impacted by unrealistic body expectations.

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