When it comes to the male physique in Hollywood, bigger always appears to be better. Literally.

The age old saying “the camera adds 10 pounds” tells the truth that that perception through the camera lens can be very different from what is true to reality. Playing a superhero on the big screen often involves being contractually obligated to “bulk up” and put on weight. The thing is, what matters most is what you see on the big screen, not what the actor actually looks or feels like in real life.

The Instagram post that started it all

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Chris Hemsworth (@chrishemsworth)

The Australian actor posted an endearing photograph on Instagram of him holding one of his twin son’s hands. Chris captioned the photograph saying, “Holding my little man’s hand and asking him the age old question. ‘What do you want to be when you grow up’ ‘Dad i wanna be Superman’ Lucky I have two other kids.”

While no parent wants to hear that their child admires the competition, it wasn’t necessarily the caption that caught the attention of the 10.1 million people who liked the post. People could not stop talking about Chris Hemsworth’s legs.

When you look at the photo it becomes clear why. While your attention immediately goes to Chris’ incredibly buff, muscular, top-heavy exterior, your eyes can then become drawn to the proportionately less bulked up lower half.

The Internet is more than a bit ablaze with a conversation around Chris Hemsworth, more specifically his legs. Chris Hemsworth plays Thor and also has had to quite literally become him in the eyes of the camera.

Chris’ brother Luke Hemsworth commented on the post, “Bro?! You’ve been skipping leg days again?!” Luke’s comment alone has over 111,500 likes.

After 83,600 comments of Instagram users putting in their two cents on Chris’ seemingly slender gams, including celebrities, the internet has made a statement. The contrast between Hemsworth’s upper and lower body in the photo is startling when you give it a proper look. Once you see it, you kind of can’t unsee it.

Skipping leg day or dangerous expectations?

From a health perspective, one has to wonder how these harsh training, diets and overall bulking regimens affect the body. Chris recently told The Telegraph that his training has in fact focused on his upper body because that part of him is “what you see the most.”

Hemsworth says, “Working with my trainer, we consider the costume and if it shows a lot of shoulder, or are we gonna see the bicep or the traps.” Chris continues, “But you want it to be balanced, because there’s probably a shirt-off scene somewhere. You don’t want to look like Popeye with one section of the body blown up.”

Hollywood actors, but especially male superheroes are expected to bulk up to literally match the bodies of their original comic book counterparts so as to not disappoint the audience. But what about the actor’s health? What about achieving that balance Chris speaks of with The Telegraph?

Often actors will use dangerous methods to bulk up including steroids, treatments, and unnecessarily rigorous training schedules.

While speaking about his approach towards training, Hemsworth has said:

For years I probably overtrained. People who do muscle-building often don’t realize it’s a sport that shouldn’t be seven days a week, two hours a day. I was doing that in the previous Thors, and was coming up sorer, with less energy.

The body standards set by Hollywood and disseminated onto the screens in our homes are unrealistic. Men are often comparing themselves, and simultaneously their masculinity, to the size of their muscles. What does seeing an actor like Chris Hemsworth bulk up to the extent that he has in that photograph do to the psyche of male audience members?

These questions and more are being explored by the members of the online community. Questions such as whether or not these body standards are outdated, harmful to the audience and to the actor as well are circling in people’s minds.

One thing is for certain though, the photograph has people talking, and it gives “don’t try this at home” vibes for the majority of us. While we may not know Chris Hemsworth’s exact training and bulking routine, what we do know is that he was cast as the lead in Thor: Love and Thunder, a film with a Hollywood blockbuster budget. This means that he has access to Hollywood blockbuster level trainers which can completely change the game and the conversation.

No matter what side of the coin you are on when it comes to the debate surrounding whether or not it is dangerous for actors to transform their bodies for roles, it is important for the conversation to be had.

Why we need to think about it seriously

Hollywood has a responsibility to its consumers, also known as us the viewers, to help maintain positive body standards and contribute to overall mental wellness. When we continuously see bodies that are literally nearly impossible to achieve under regular circumstances, what does that do to our self-esteems as individuals?

With great power comes great responsibility and Hollywood has a large share of the world’s power and attention. Is it time for filmmakers to stop pushing actors to such far lengths physically for a role?

Chris Hemsworth is one male actor in a long line of many who have radically transformed their bodies to “supersize me” levels for a superhero role. His legs have sparked an international conversation that is important to have surrounding body standards, appearance and health.

If Chris is expected to emulate a character who is originally a comic book drawing, he has potentially succeeded. But, as for creating a realistically human-like body that is healthy for the masses to achieve, the masses have spoken: 10.1 million likes and 83,600 in comments to be exact, and it sounds like Chris may have fallen short.

None of us are superheroes, including Chris Hemsworth

When undergoing a body transformation, remember that we are not real-life superheroes. The body has its limitations, and we must be conscious of them in order to give our bodies the respect they deserve. Sure, we can transform our bodies and sculpt them in incredible ways, but it is important that we do it safely in ways that prioritize or physical and mental health.

Always remember not to compare yourself to the beauty standards you see in the images around you. Not only do Hollywood A-Listers have access to incredible equipment, trainers, nutrition, diets, cooks, and all sorts of resources money can buy, but they also are literally paid to do this. We may not know exactly how a celebrity achieved a superhero body for a superhero role but comparing ourselves to the impossible standards set by Hollywood is an unfair battle

When embarking upon a body transformation, make sure to do your research and find out what works best for you. Prioritize your physical health and mental health above all and get ready to put in the work. Set attainable goals and watch the results come in.

It’s all about perspective even when it is about appearance, and it is all about the mind even when it is about the body. Hollywood can portray whatever images it wants, but it’s up to you to decide if those are the standards to which you are going to listen to in your life.

The choice is yours.