With his latest gym selfie over on Instagram, actor and filmmaker Justin Baldoni is tackling one of the great existential questions of our age: have you really worked out if you haven’t documented it in a photo?
“A lot of change in one week,” Baldoni wrote in the caption. “Cut my hair. Started eating carbs. And now I’m seeking validation from strangers on the internet by posting thirst traps. Wait …is this a thirst trap? Just Googled it. Don’t google thirst trap.”
Despite his ill-advised Googling, Baldoni still seems a little foggy on the definition of a thirst trap. He is, after all, fully clothed in the photo, minimizing the potential for thirsty replies in the comments—although even so, his muscular physique is visible, and he has clearly been hitting chest and arms in the gym.
And the response was still remarkably positive. “I’m in love with you,” wrote actor Travis Van Winkle. “Like for real. The big kind of love. The love that Whitney Houston sang about.” Meanwhile, popular novelist Colleen Hoover thanked Baldoni for his “dedication.”
Thirst is, of course, something that Baldoni is familiar with, having gained popularity as the suave, frequently shirtless love interest Rafael Solano on Jane the Virgin. Although he openly admits that he has struggled with his heartthrob status and the increasingly unrealistic body standards that are projected onto young men.
“As someone who for years has made a living taking off their shirt on television, I am acutely aware of the privilege I have simply for having the genes and resources that I do,” he wrote in his memoir, Man Enough. “And yet, under whatever amount of muscle definition I think have or do not have, is a little boy who feels like his body will never measure up, a young adult who struggled with terrible body image, and a man who, to this day, suffers from a problem that he helps perpetuate.”
Philip Ellis is a freelance writer and journalist from the United Kingdom covering pop culture, relationships and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV.
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