Don’t hate Zac Efron, hate the game.

Zac Efron's beautiful face is the hill many millennials will die on.

Whether you were first introduced to the Hollywood heartthrob in the form of High School Musical's Troy Bolton or were drawn in later in the game by his dreamy portrayal of Logan in the Nicholas Sparks' classic  The Lucky One, it is a truth universally acknowledged that most girls, gays and theys of a certain age have had an Efron-induced sexual awakening at some stage.

Watch: Zac Efron and Zendaya on filming The Greatest Showman. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

We're invested. We're protective of him — maybe even overly so. 

We love that he bought a little bush retreat in Australia to see out the pandemic.

It is perhaps for all of these reasons that any mention of Zac Efron's jaw online will elicit the kind of vicious comment-section kick-offs usually reserved for conversations about topics such as politics. Think: 50 per cent of us riding into battle on the questionable horse that is Efron's 'jaw accident' explanation (more on that in a minute), and the other 50 per cent deriding him as being a vain liar who has "ruined" his looks through unnecessary cosmetic surgery.


The backstory.

'Jawgate' kicked off in 2021, when pictures of Efron's face looking decidedly different went viral, sparking speculation he'd gone under the knife.

The photo of Zac Efron that went viral in 2021. Efron was one of the celebs who participated in Bill Nye's musical titled: Earth Day! The Musical posted on Facebook. Image: Facebook Watch.

Everyone weighed in on the snaps at the time, from his mate Kyle Sandilands — who denied the star would have undergone cosmetic surgery, claiming it would be like "letting kids finger paint over a Picasso painting" — to surgeons pontificating about what kind of procedures he might have had done. 


Even exercise buffs chimed in, speculating that the use of human growth hormone (HGH) to gain serious muscle can have a similar effect on a person's facial structure.

Then, a year later, Efron — who "doesn't read the internet" and has no public social media presence — did an interview with Men's Health in which he addressed the rumours.

He detailed an accident he'd had at home nearly a decade earlier in 2013, where a slip on a puddle of water led to a severe facial injury resulting in his "chin bone... hanging off".

The muscles on the inside of his face and jaw, Efron said, had to compensate. 

He had been working to remedy the issue with a specialist, but after taking some time off from the exercises while in Australia, his other facial muscles grew. "The masseters just grew," he said at the time. "They just got really, really big."

The 'Family Affair' affair.

That was in 2022, and while speculation about his appearance died down for a while, his appearance in everyone's favourite Netflix hate-watch of 2024, A Family Affair, has reignited jawgate in a massive way.

Starring alongside Nicole Kidman (whose own facial features in the film have also drawn a significant volume of opinions), Efron plays a Hollywood heartthrob who craves more depth than his surface-level existence provides.

When viewers aren't tearing the cheesy script or wooden acting apart (the film scored a paltry 31 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, FYI), online chatter is almost exclusively centred around the stars' faces.


Here's the thing though: we're all directing our outrage at the wrong culprit.

Listen to Mamamia Out Loud where Holly, Mia, and Jessie talks about the debate between Zac Efron's face. Post continues after audio.

The disturbing reality hiding in plain sight.

Whether or not you believe Zac's jaw is due to natural ageing, medication, fillers or an unfortunately placed puddle of water, he's made other comments over the years that should have us questioning an industry that normalises such extreme cosmetic intervention.

Putting aside his face for a moment, let's talk about the other, more worrisome admissions Efron made in his 2022 interview that didn't get nearly as much press as his accident.

Like the fact that extreme diuretic use and 'over-training' for his 2017 Baywatch role left his body in near collapse. 

"That Baywatch look, I don't know if that's really attainable," he told the magazine.

"There's just too little water in the skin. Like, it's fake; it looks CGI'd, and that required Lasix, powerful diuretics, to achieve. So I don't need to do that. I much prefer to have an extra, you know, two to three per cent body fat."

He also told the publication he was only averaging a few hours of sleep per night, filming until midnight and then waking up at 4am to train. "I started to develop insomnia," he said, "and I fell into a pretty bad depression, for a long time. Something about that experience burned me out. I had a really hard time re-centreing. 


"Ultimately, they chalked it up to taking way too many diuretics for way too long, and it messed something up."

In the same interview, Efron — who has been hounded by intense fans since he was a teenager — also shared that he suffers from agoraphobia as a result, and doesn't really go out.

That an actor can detail the crippling physical and emotional impacts of actions he was pushed to take for his work, and then have that narrative overridden by a debate on whether or not we should blame him for how his jaw looks, is troubling.

The fact that this level of pressure began before he was even old enough to vote is downright disturbing.

That Hollywood demands unreasonable and harmful body modification from the artists it deems worthy of fame is, quite literally, old news.

But let's not pretend that the celebrity industrial complex, in which we are all complicit, isn't the real villain here. It sucks people in — often, as in Efron's case, while they're still children — then spits them out with eating disorders, psychological issues and arrested development, all the while victim-blaming them when their body modifications reach critical mass.

Perhaps the issue isn't that millennials are too protective of Zac Efron. It's that more people in his life should have been.

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Feature image: Getty.

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