The Real Reason Kumail Nanjiani’s New Look Is Causing Controversy

Comedian Kumail Nanjiani broke social media and caused a huge stir after posting a picture of himself for the new year looking buff and glowing. Nanjiani is set to star in Marvel’s upcoming movie Eternals, a project he’s cited multiple times as the inspiration behind his stunning transformation. 

Nanjiani first debuted his ripped look back in a December 2019 Instagram post, where he was open about the amount of work he put in. “I found out a year ago I was going to be in Marvel’s Eternals and decided I wanted to transform how I looked,” he said. “I would not have been able to do this if I didn’t have a full year with the best trainers and nutritionists, paid for by the biggest studio in the world. I’m glad I look like this, but I also understand why I never did before. It would have been impossible without these resources and time.”

Fast forward to January 2021. While many of his fans expressed their thanks for being blessed with this fresh “thirst trap” in the comment section, there were some who were super critical of the shot and accused Nanjiani of using steroids (via NY Post). This accusation is making waves and has sparked a serious debate on Twitter around body shaming and racism. Here’s why those steroid rumors are controversial and, frankly, dangerous.

Is the hate that Kumail Nanjiani is getting for his transformation racist?

Fans immediately fought back against accusations that Kumail Nanjiani used steroids to get buff for his new Marvel role. Some users compared public reaction to Nanjiani’s transformation to other white Marvel actors who’ve gone through a similar weight loss journey (via Yahoo! News). One user slammed the criticism and tweeted, “Anyone wanna talk about how we’re so eager to lather people like Chris Evans and Chris Pratt for getting beyond jacked for movie roles, but once Kumail Nanjiani does it, it’s grotesque and shame-worthy?” 

Another fan added, “Chris Pratt can bulk up for a marvel movie and everyone is cool with is. Kumail Nanjiani does it and people call him “grotesque” and assume he’s using steroids. I hate it here.”

Intentional or not, it’s possible that there’s an underlying layer of racism beneath the criticism. Throughout their Marvel movie careers, veterans Chris Pratt and Chris Evans have gotten a lot of praise for their superhero workout routines. In an interview with Men’s Journal, Pratt shared that he lost 60 pounds in just six months for his role in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. Pratt’s stunning transformation was met with an overwhelmingly positive response, which begs the question of what, exactly, makes Nanjiani’s so different, considering both actors have similar roles in the Marvel universe.

Whichever side of the debate you’re on, it doesn’t cancel out the fact that body shaming anyone, regardless of their race or gender, helps no one.

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