1. Many people grow up struggling with body-image issues, no matter how confident or ~cool~ they may look. With the standards we see in the media, it would be impossible not to have some insecurities — even for young men.
So, for BuzzFeed’s Body Positivity Week, The Try Guys decided to open up about some of their body-image issues — and see what goes on behind the scenes of those impossibly perfect celebrity photos.
2. Believe it or not, The Try Guys weren’t always the self-possessed, often half-naked dudes you’ve come to know today.
ZACH: “Growing up, I thought I was too pudgy — I didn’t want to take my shirt off at the pool. Now that I’m an adult, I think I’m too thin and scrawny. It’s hard sometimes to not look at the people around you and feel less than.”
NED: “What I think makes men attractive is athleticism. I have a scar that goes up my knee, was in the hospital for like two weeks, and was recovering for months. I resent the fact that it’s made me weaker.”
3. They struggled with figuring out who they are and how to deal with their bodies in their own unique ways. (Yes, even Eugene.)
KEITH: “I am proportioned like a skinny person but I have no muscles… Instead, I just have fat there. I’m always in sleeves that go all the way to my elbow because then that covers up parts of my body where there’s supposed to be muscle definition.”
EUGENE: “I grew up in an environment where I was beat up a lot and made fun of — I was kind of told every day that I was ugly. And then, being Korean, I was also told that I could always be improving how I look. One wouldn’t expect me to have a lot of issues about me, when I’m just riddled with body insecurities.”
4. So, each guy picked a famous image they personally felt was #BodyGoals and re-created it with the help of a professional hair, makeup, photo, and retouching team. Because “perfection” doesn’t come easy, y’all.
5. Keith wanted to re-create a photo of John Krasinski post–getting ripped and “hot as hell.”
Keith noted that a rapidly growing number of male comedians in the spotlight like Chris Pratt and John Krasinski, who he relates to, have started to become sex symbols and action stars — and can no longer be the awkward, pudgy cute guys. He feels that there’s some pressure now for funny guys to get jacked, too.
6. Zach wanted to recreate this iconic Calvin Klein underwear ad featuring Justin Bieber.
Zach pointed out that both he and the Biebs shared thinner, smaller frames before the latter pumped iron after puberty. This image was also allegedly photoshopped, so Zach’s expectations of his performance were already low: “If they have to photoshop Justin Bieber, then what do they have to do with me?”
7. Eugene wanted to channel his inner ~magic~ and re-create a photo of Channing Tatum as Magic Mike from the Magic Mike XXL poster.
Eugene related to Channing’s interest in performance and dance and recognized Tatum and the Magic Mike brand’s contribution to a growing focus on and interest in (especially online) the perfectly sculpted male physique.
8. And Ned had a hard challenge ahead of him, hoping to re-create a picture of one of his football idols, Cristiano Ronaldo, in an Armani underwear ad.
Ned mentioned that Ronaldo is the epitome of athleticism and health — this photograph was apparently barely retouched because as a pro athlete, Ronaldo needed very little to enhance his chiseled form.
10. The guys had a tough time figuring out how to be sexy. And tbh, modeling is no easy feat.
“I’m of the opinion that these things are attainable — if you have the time, the money, and the team to constantly work out. It’s just nobody is that rich or has that much time except for celebrities, actors, and models. It’s not our job to look that good.”
13. Eugene almost* nailed his pose, and his body was rockin’ in the original, un-retouched pic:
*The photographer mentioned that a few of Eugene’s photos would have to be stitched together by the retoucher and that Tatum was more than likely stitched to appear to be jumping mid-air on the Magic Mike XXL poster.
25. ZACH: “I think a lot of guys use humor as a coping mechanism. If I don’t laugh at this photo, then the only other option is to feel bad about it. Looking at this photo now, I feel like I should look like this — like, should I not be OK with my body? When I think of my attractiveness, I think of my personality. As guys, you don’t often think of your bodies as sexual, and seeing it is startling.”
“Improve yourself because you want to and because you enjoy it — not because you’re trying to achieve an ideal that someone has told you you should fit.”
26. KEITH: “This is terrifying — I don’t like that at all. No one wants to be friends with that guy. While I lament that my body’s not better, I don’t know if I want to look like that. Maybe I like my soft body more than I thought.”
“Lots of people out there think, Oh, if you’re a guy, you should just work out and be strong and if you’re unhappy with you’re body, you should change it! If you’re unhappy with your body, maybe you should just learn to love yourself for more than just your body.”
27. NED: “I look like a god among men! You know, Cristiano Ronaldo is so rare — he’s like, 0.01% of the population who actually looks like that. If I wanted to look like this…and have my job…and spend time with family…there’s just not enough hours in the day.”
“Earlier I said that the stronger you are, the more healthy you are. There’s a lot of other aspects of health that strength doesn’t encompass.”
28. EUGENE: “I think a lot of men out there — especially straight men — don’t necessarily have to confront their bodies as openly as LGBT men or people of color. For me, having to always constantly deal with my relationship with my body and navigate that is an issue I’ll have for my entire life. I’ve learned that being so hypercritical of myself won’t translate into being more confident.”
“If you have a problem with how you look, that’s a way deeper issue than changing your outsides. I will always have issues with how I look, but maybe I can lessen those issues by focusing on things that really matter.”
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