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Taylor Lautner says being 'known for taking his shirt off' in 'Twilight' led him to struggle with body image

Taylor Lautner opens up about struggling with body image after Twilight. (Photo: Getty Images)
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Taylor Lautner is opening up about the body image issues he faced after starring in the Twilight saga, sharing that his "entire life" was dedicated to maintaining washboard abs for the films.

"When I was 16 through 20 years old starring in this franchise where my character's known for taking his shirt off every other second, no I did not know that it was affecting me or was going to affect me in the future with body image," he said of his role as werewolf Jacob Black during an episode of The Squeeze podcast. "But now looking back at it, of course it did, of course it’s going to."

The 30-year-old actor explained that he was "viewed as having this unbelievable body" because of how he appeared on the big screen for all five of the series installments. In reality, he dedicated most of his time and effort to look that way.

"In the first movie I was 140 pounds and in [the series's second film] New Moon I was 175, so yeah, that wasn't my natural body. I had to work very hard for it and very, very hard just to maintain it," he continued. "I was forced to be in a gym multiple times a day, six days a week for those years."

He previously told Yahoo Life that his diet was also an "absolute nightmare" at the time. "I had to consume at least 5,000 calories a day to maintain the weight that I was at."

Once the franchise ended, he started "rebelling against a gym." When the media drew attention to how his body had started to evolve, he became more self-conscious.

"I started having more normal of a body and I remember one of the first times seeing it online was very tough. I was filming a movie called Run the Tide and my character in that is not supposed to be a body builder or a ripped guy in any way. I still, I thought I looked fine," he recalled. "But then seeing it online where they put the side by sides of me shirtless in the ocean in a scene from that movie compared to me in Eclipse or whatever and being like, 'Wow, he's let it all go,' I was like, 'Oh man, did I really let it all go?' I didn't think I looked that bad."

Lautner said that the side by side photos of him "continued for years and years," which he said "messed with me" and "hurt." All the while, he was struggling with his relationship with his body.

"I'd buckle down again and I'd get in shape and then I would let it go and then I'd get in shape and then I'd let it go. And that’s been something that I've struggled with over the last 10 years," he said.

The actor also explained how body dysmorphia played a role in the way that he viewed himself. "I look at myself in the mirror and I'm like, 'Bleh.' And then I'll have [my wife] or Jason, close friends of ours be like, 'Bro, what are you talking about? You're looking at a different human being than the rest of the world is.' And that's how scary it is because you distort things. Your brain just sees things differently."

He also recognized how the early praise of his body led him to place too much value in his appearance, which ultimately he had to unlearn. Now, he's a big proponent of mental health and views exercise as a tool to better it.

"Don't find happiness in what you want your body to look like. Don't think just because you lose the 20 pounds or you put on the muscle, you're gonna wake up, look in the mirror and all of a sudden be happy. That's not where you should be finding value," he said. "Over the last couple years I've gotten healthy again but I think in order to get my body physically healthy it took my mind getting healthy first."

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