Kumail Nanjiani Says Getting Jacked Gave Him Body Dysmorphia

When Kumail Nanjiani posted that ripped image of himself on Instagram, everyone freaked out—in a good way. Then, some people turned salty, comparing Nanjiani to Chris Pratt and worrying for Nanjiani’s wife Emily Gordon (Pratt and wife Ana Faris divorced well after his body transformation). Thankfully, people seem to be back to stage one: feeling good for a man who pushed his body to the limit to play a superhero in Marvel’s Eternals. You did it, buddy. We’re proud.

In the April Men’s Health cover story, Nanjiani admitted the online noise produced some complicated emotions as he transformed his body. (He didn’t know how to feel, for instance, when Pornhub used the shirtless photo as a lead on the category “muscular men.” That was a “weird” couple of days, he says.)

Gordon also said she was overwhelmed with responses to her husband’s new look. “Half the messages I got that day were from people being like, ‘Hey, I want to have sex with your husband.’ And the other half were from people making sure I was okay with my husband’s naked body being everywhere. . . All I could be was really proud, because he looks amazing.”

Nanjiani said that before his post, he probably wouldn’t have agreed, admitting his transformation actually made him less confident. “I don’t want to discount people who genuinely have debilitating body issues. I don’t have that. But I did start getting some body dysmorphia. I’d look in the mirror and I’d see my abs—and when I looked again, they would fade. I would just see the flaws.”

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I never thought I’d be one of those people who would post a thirsty shirtless, but I’ve worked way too hard for way too long so here we are. You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. I found out a year ago I was going to be in Marvel’s Eternals and decided I wanted to transform how I looked. 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. So big thanks to @grantrobertsfit who started working with me at the beginning of the year and made me understand true physical pain for months and months. Then, once we started shooting, a massive thanks to @davidhigginslondon and his team (@ellispartridge, @thebeardypt, @tomcheesemanfitness) for training me almost every day and making me strong, limber and injury free. I can almost touch my toes now. (And thank you for forcing me to do cheat meals David.) Matthews Street Catering for their delicious and healthy meals. And finally, the biggest thanks goes to @emilyvgordon for putting up with me complaining and talking about only working out and dieting for the last year. I promise I’ll be interesting again some day. #thirstyshirtless (Photo by @markupson.) (edit: I left off one very important person: @lancecallahan who trained me for 6 years and helped me build the foundation I could use to do this. Thank you!)

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Nanjiani said that once the photo was posted, that first stage of reactions helped bring him back to reality. “When I saw that reaction I was like, ‘Okay, I clearly don’t see what’s actually there.’ It’s something that I’m trying to be aware of and be better at, because that’s not a good way to be. You want to be easy on yourself .”

It’s that second stage that he tried to avoid. He didn’t want the transformation to change who he was. He noted that his physique was never something that defined him. And that was a good thing.

“A few years ago, I was working with a great guy—I won’t say who, but he’s a very handsome, really in-shape guy—who was making fun of me for being doughy. And I was like, ‘I could weight another 50 pounds and I’ll still work. But if you gain ten pounds, you’ll never work another day in your life.”

Sounds like #goals to us: be someone who can gain weight and still find recognition.

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