The headlines on October 7 and 8 were cruel and merciless. "Photos: You Won't Believe How Fat Vin Diesel Looks Now," proclaimed Nigerian Entertainment Today. "Vin Diesel Showcases Softer Figure While Lounging Shirtless In Miami — See His Not-So-Buff Bod," was Us Weekly's choice of phrase. "Vin Diesel Shows Off His 'Dad Bod' In Miami — Shirtless Pics," read Hollywood Life's iteration. Entertainment Tonight inquired, "Vin Diesel, Is That You? Shirtless Action Star Has Noticeable Body Transformation." Finally, people started calling out these outlets — and their judgment of Diesel's appearance. Vin Diesel was being body-shamed, and it wasn't okay. Diesel himself responded on his Facebook page on October 7, posting a link to VH1's article asking, "Why Are Publications Body-Shaming Vin Diesel Right Now?" He captioned it, "All love..." It was a great response. Diesel basically rose above the fray, refusing to stoop to the level of publications snarking on any sort of physical transformation he had undergone in the past few months. It was a mature and dignified way to deal with the situation, and it felt like the issue was closed. There's just one problem: Diesel is currently doing press for his new movie, The Last Witch Hunter, which comes out October 23. Apparently, journalists are asking about the photos, and one even asked to see "the dad bod." Diesel debated whether he should post a photo revealing his torso. "Body-shaming is always wrong! What do you think?" he wrote in an Instagram caption of a picture he posted two days ago. In the end, Diesel decided to show the bod.
He also posted a photo of himself holding his daughter, Pauline, on his Facebook page. Diesel is shirtless in the photo. It is unclear when the picture was taken, and there is no caption. Now, Diesel's photo with Pauline is certainly a sweet image. And the picture of his six-pack is, of course, an admirable reminder of his commitment to fitness. I'm still disappointed with his secondary line of defense to the onslaught of body-shaming he's received in the past few days, though. Initially, it seemed like Diesel was really going to rise above all the haterade and just take it all in stride. You want to call Vin Diesel fat? Say he's gone soft, and that he's rocking a dad bod? It's all love from Vinny, baby. He's a world-famous action star and the emotional center of the Fast & Furious (2001-present) franchise. He doesn't care about your judgment, and he thinks it's wrong. Except he clearly does care about the judgment and body-shaming. If he truly didn't, he wouldn't have felt the need to post a photo showing that he hadn't actually gained weight, and he still had a six-pack. I get it; it's definitely hard to read international headlines about your new, softer figure. No one likes to have their body judged or shamed. It hurts — no matter how big your paycheck or Facebook fanbase (95.6 million). Still, responding by saying, "Oh, you want to body-shame me? Well, joke's on you, because I actually have a six-pack!" does a disservice to all of the people who are body-shamed every day, but just have to be mentally and emotionally strong enough to rise above the noise. Diesel was correct when he said "Body-shaming is always wrong," but that statement should stand on its own. I understand the counter-argument, of course. He's an action star, so his body is part of his image. But does he really need to be Xander Cage from XXX (2002) or Dominic Toretto all the time? His adoring public has the ability to separate Vin Diesel, the real person, from the characters he plays onscreen. Actors should be able to do what they want to their bodies when they have a break between films. They should also be able to take a cigarette break (although really, Diesel, smoking? That part disappoints me the most). On a private balcony without being photographed at an unflattering angle, that will result in them being called fat by everyone and their mother. Vin Diesel is in the privileged position of having a global platform to create change. In refusing to cave and show his body to the journalist who asked to see "the dad bod" — and then on Instagram, to his 11.5 million followers — he would have made a powerful statement for people everywhere who have to be strong enough to stand up to body-shamers without the ability to then show off six-packs.