Trigger Warning: eating disorders and body dysmorphia
Zac Efron, famously known for High School Musical and it’s sequels, has never been my favorite celebrity. I never got the hype when he was on Disney and I didn’t connect to any of his comedies like Neighbors, Baywatch, or Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates. I couldn’t even get into him and his work when he did Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.
That all changed when when he did the documentary Down to Earth with Zac Efron. Here was a man that I connect with, one that was shockingly nice, relatable, and like the title says, down to Earth. That’s when I started to like him, hell, even respect him and the work he was doing to bring awareness to some serious issues when it comes to planet Earth.
Zac became even more relatable when during a segment he became visibly emotional while eating carbs. He explained how he went years without eating carbs and that while shooting Baywatch he didn’t have a carb for six months and how it he almost lost his mind. And instead of judging him, the internet surrounded him and supported him.
That’s why I’m so pissed that people on the internet have turned around and forgotten his previously expressed issues with eating disorders and the pressures of Hollywood. In a video for Earth Day, Efron was unrecognizable to many. His face seemed to be more filled out but also sharper around the edges in a weird dichotomy. And the internet lost it.
Some bemoaned the fact that he “wasn’t hot anymore” or that their childhood crush has been ruined. I’m sorry, I didn’t know this was about you. I didn’t know that his appearance change would make you lash out and show how ugly you are inside by you pointing out how “ugly” he was on the outside now that you didn’t find him attractive.
And it’s bullshit.
It’s not about you, what you want, or what you need. In fact, it’s the complete opposite of all that. It’s about Zac, his previously expressed concerns, and how Hollywood pressures even the best of it’s celebrities to radically change themselves to stay relevant and marketable to the world. That’s what we should be focusing on and not how you think he looks like handsome Squidward.
People on the internet need to use this moment as a learning opportunity and not to make jokes. Men also experience body image or weight disorders. And all this talk about how he looks is a distraction from the real issue that something inside of Zac Efron, if the photos/videos are real, made it so he wanted to radically change what he looks like.
That’s cause for concern, a time for patience, and a moment to be more understanding of those that experience body image or weight disorders. And if his appearance now is a call for help, I hope that Zac gets the help he needs in a loving and kind environment based on trust, acceptance, and hope that things can get better.
Experiencing an eating disorder and need help? Contact the National Eating Disorders Association Hotline HERE. Want to learn more about body dysmorphia? Learn more at the Centre for Clinical Interventions HERE.