Kumail Nanjiani ‘doesn’t regret’ sharing body transformation photos on Instagram

Pakistani-American actor Kumail Nanjiani arrives for the premiere of

Kumail Nanjiani talks about his body transformation in 2019 – and the impact it has been so widely reported on. (Photo: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

Kumail Nanjiani explains how he handled the public response to his widely reported body transformation in 2019.

It has been almost three years since the Eternals star, 44, took to Instagram to share a photo of himself shirtless, putting his abs and muscular arms on full display. Now, in a new interview with Hype GQthe actor talks about the pressure he faced when the media turned his body into a clickbait.

“It’s weird that my body has such a part in the public conversation,” he explained at the time. “There’s no good outcome for me personally with this, but I also understand that as a public figure, anything about me is fair game to discuss.”

“I’m the one who put these photos on Instagram, so I started this. I don’t regret it,” Nanjiani clarified. “But it became something that I never expected. To have my body criticized so much…I guess now I understand 0.0001% of what it could be like to be an actress in Hollywood.”

While Nanjiani admits he doesn’t “have to deal” with the kind of pressure Hollywood actresses face about their bodies, he was, at the time, regularly asked about his body in interviews, which took some getting used to.

“It’s such a small part of my life,” he says now. “It’s always a risk to publicly reflect on something that you’re going through personally. And that’s what was happening in those interviews. I was dealing with the fallout of those images, and the outpouring of reactions to them, and to my own contribution to causing them, and my own role in advancing a male bodily standard that is ultimately unhealthy, unachievable and unrealistic.”

“Some people reacted to me relying on this, thinking it was also part of a performance,” he noted of how he handled the response. “And now I say this, and maybe it will be interpreted as part of the performance…I did these interviews because a lot of things were going through my mind”

“I really don’t have anything more to say about it,” he said.

Nanjiani has been open in the past about how conversations around his physique ultimately led him into an unhealthy cycle. In an interview with QG last year he admitted he had become obsessed with his looks and his stats.

“I’ve found in the last year and a half since I took this photo that I’m very uncomfortable talking about my body,” he said at the time. “and it became less and less comfortable.”

Additionally, Nanjiani explained, the experience made him realize how harmful the perpetuation of toxic masculinity on social media has become for men.

“It’s aggression,” he said of the idealized male body. “It’s anger. Often we are taught to be helpful by using physical force or our brains in an aggressive and competitive way. Not in an empathetic way. Not in an open and collaborative way. It’s the same when you have all these guys, like, asking people to debate it on Twitter. It’s the same as arm wrestling. It’s about winning. And that’s what the male ideal has been.” Dominate. Conquer. Crush. Kill. Destroy.”

In a separate 2021 interview with Vulturehe admitted that he had become “obsessed with that number on the scale”.

“It’s a difficult thing,” said the Welcome to Chippendales shared actor. “It’s misleading. You get obsessed with it. I certainly have, and for me, it’s not great to weigh myself every day. I could tell you what I weigh today. If I could change something, I wish I didn’t have to think about it.”

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