When the ‘Twilight’ films came out, one of the most talked about moments had to be Rob Pattinson’s shirtless scene at the beach. The actor was sporting some serious abs that seemed to be perfect for playing the handsome yet vulnerable teenage guy who has to overcome his bad reputation and win the heart of the one girl he truly loves. While we were all distracted by his amazing physique, it was clear that this was not actually what the actor was going for. With fans clamouring for a sequel, Rob Pattinson has now released a new photo with an entirely different message. With a mermaid on one arm and the slogan “Choose Your Future, Not Your Genes” on the other, the former ‘Twilight’ star is clearly wanting to remind fans that he is in fact choosing not to be like his vampire dad — and that his shirtless scene was no big deal.

Mermaids Are Cool

While we are used to seeing humans in swimsuits on screen as part of the Hollywood routine, it is still considered risqué to feature underwater creatures in such attire. It is generally frowned upon to show immodest or provocative poses or deeds while celebrating a character’s unique qualities or traits. This is one area where Robert Pattinson has truly bucked the trends and established himself as a sexual icon. Even more impressively, he has done this while adhering to what is expected of a Hollywood star. While many may argue that going shirtless is the key to attaining a more primal masculinity, Pattinson has chosen a more aesthetic approach highlighted by his affinity for mermaids.

His choice of companions is also noteworthy. Instead of choosing traditionally attractive companions such as Kate Winslet or Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Pattinson has surrounded himself with fascinating creatures such as the mermaids he features in the stunning new photo. It is clear that he sees some kind of connection between himself and these nameless water nymphs and is comfortable enough to display it. One may argue that having a mermaid on your arm is the key to entering the mainstream LGBT+ community. It is certainly an interesting strategy and one that has arguably worked. Whether this is just a one-off photo shoot or a glimpse at a new fashion style, we will have to wait and see.

No Big Deal

When the first ‘Twilight’ movie came out in 2008, people were completely absorbed by Rob Pattinson’s shirtless scene at the beach. While some may have been put off by the high school-set romance, the actor’s uncanny ability to remove his shirt and display his muscular frame really did make an impression. While the scene itself was fairly mild — and it is a well-known fact that the ‘Twilight’ films were almost universally panned by critics — the idea of an A-lister going shirtless was still novel enough to warrant a photo spread in a national newspaper at the time. In fact, it was so unusual that the photo was used as a central image in an article about the film. And since then, there have been a gazillion similar stories where a tabloid newspaper has run with a story about a famous person removing their shirt for a different reason (and usually not for a good reason), most notably Meek Mill and Mandy Moore. In other words, going shirtless for a sexy photo is a trivial matter nowadays, no matter who does it.

This is not to say that Robert Pattinson is not still considered fairly attractive or that he does not have the capability to remove a shirt and make it look good. It is clear that he still has the physique to fully commit to a shirtless routine and make it work for him. But since deciding to go au naturelle, the 33-year-old has realised that there is more than one way to skin a (m)cat. He can now choose whether to go for the classic good old hairy chested look or try something different. While some people may see this as a step down, we can see it as a further demonstration of the evolving sexuality of the modern day actor.