The Underlying Problem with Celebrity Revenge Bodies

An argument made in thirsty mirror selfies.

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(Image credit: Marie Claire)

Until Calvin Harris' ripped torso appeared in various "exercise"-themed Snapchats and above a pair of cobalt Speedos, it was unclear whether we had ever had a male revenge body. Female "f*ck-you-I'm-hotter-than-ever" bodies, yes; male "I'm-better-now-that-you're-gone" bodies, rarely. Here, we unpack that disparity and its underlying sexism using five (mostly) workout pics as examples just to keep things from getting too stuffy.

Katie Holmes

Katie Holmes

(Image credit: Getty)

In one of the earliest known instances of the Revenge Body, Katie Holmes was commended for toning up after her 2012 divorce from Tom Cruise. Nothing about the CIA-level maneuvers she had to make to get away from him—just details about her attending Spin class on her birthday. Gonna go out on a limb here and say maybe impressing her ex-husband wasn't so near the top of her mind at that point in time.

Ruby Rose

The media: "OMG she called off her engagement! So now she must be trying to lure Phoebe Dahl back WITH HER SICK AB DEFINITION!" The reasonable explanation: She was filming an action movie. SMH.

Khloé Kardashian

The weird thing about perhaps the OG Revenge Body is that she never *said* that was her motivation—she started working out to escape her home with Lamar Odom, which had turned "dark and toxic," as she revealed in an interview with Harper's Bazaar. But when a woman's body changes anytime near the end of a relationship, it 100 percent has to be because she wants to show him what he's missing, blah blah blah.

Calvin Harris

We called it what it is, FYI. Other outlets have too, so let this be the beginning of a new era of equal-opportunity Revenge Body-ing.


Why is this categorized as "Drake Got Swoll" and not a revenge body? Especially when THERE ARE SO MANY HEARTLESS WOMEN HE COULD BE EXACTING VENGEANCE ON WITH HIS NEW CUT-NESS? ::hurls mic at wall::

Chelsea Peng
Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.