No, Will Smith Isn’t a Body Positivity Icon

The actor was praised for showing off his dad bod, but he's also doing everything he can to get rid of it

Will Smith
Will Smith arrives at the Los Angeles World Premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures 'Focus' at TCL Chinese Theatre on February 24, 2015 in Hollywood, California.

On Monday, Will Smith shared a picture of his shirtless post-pandemic body on his Instagram, writing, “I’m gonna be real wit y’all — I’m in the worst shape of my life.”

That’s pretty relatable these days, as we’re all coming off a year of eating our feelings while stuck at home, and naturally folks on the internet rushed to praise the actor for being brave enough to show off his gut and compliment his “body positivity.” “We Salute Will Smith For Living His Damn Life,” one headline read. “Will Smith Flaunting His Dad Bod on Instagram is Inspiring Dads to Flaunt Their Own,” said another. But the following day, Smith followed up the post with some news that makes it clear the whole thing is less about body positivity than it is about getting paid to get fit.

“This is the body that carried me through an entire pandemic and countless days grazing thru the pantry,” he wrote in his follow-up post. “I love this body, but I wanna FEEL better. No more midnight muffins…this is it! Imma get in the BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE!!!!!” Smith also broke the news that he’s teaming up with YouTube on a new series that will chronicle his attempts to “get my health & wellness back on track.” CNN reports that the six-part series is tentatively titled “Best Shape of My Life” and will feature Smith “rebuilding his body into the best shape of his life and getting his groove back along the way.”

“This is the fun, funny, inspirational, wildly adventurous, and deeply entertaining story of Smith challenging himself to improve every aspect of his fitness, from agility to power to recovery and more,” YouTube’s description of the series reads.

So let’s be real: Smith is not “embracing his dad bod,” as so many were quick to claim. In fact, he’s doing everything he can to get rid of it, and most annoyingly, he’s getting paid to do it. There’s no “body positivity” here, nor is there anything relatable; Smith is taking advantage of the fact that he’s rich and famous enough to have access to the best trainers, nutritionists and personal chefs money can buy to help him lose weight, and he’s cashing a check for it. Despite the obligatory disclaimer that he loves his current body, he’s clearly presenting the “worst shape of his life” — which, to be clear, is still better shape than plenty of people are in — as something that needs to be corrected.

Of course, he’s totally entitled to lose weight if he wants to, and we can’t begrudge anyone for trying to get healthier, but we can’t call it “body positivity.”

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