Ten years ago, you'd never see someone like Ashley Graham and other plus size women gracing the pages of major magazines like Glamour and Sports Illustrated. Ten years ago, waifish models were in style and body positivity was mostly confined to far off corners of the internet. Thankfully, body positivity is a popular concept today, and celebs from Kim Kardashian to Jennifer Lawrence have spoken out in support of body love for all.
But is body positivity limited? The conversation has primarily been centered around women, and there's a very simple reason for that: when it comes to fielding societal pressure to look a certain way, it just isn't the same for men. When it comes to male representation in the media, you'll find a greater variety of bodies, and see that an individual man's worth isn't boiled down to his attractiveness the way it often is for women.
But that doesn't mean the pressure isn't there. It may not be as glaring or as all-encompassing, but men have their own unique set of standards to contend with. While women are expected to be as thin as possible, men are judged based on their height and are pressured to bulk up at the gym. And while plus size female models are gaining more mainstream popularity, we haven't seen those changes happen for plus size men.
Luckily, that's all starting to change. There are men - and even big companies - out there fighting the good fight. IMG Models - one of the biggest agencies in the world - is ahead of the game; just last month, they debuted "Brawn," their new plus-size male division. It's a step in the right direction for diversifying the modeling industry. And Zach Miko, the first "Big and Tall" model hired by the agency, is just the type of male body positive icon the world needs.
"We have been told for so long that beauty is this one thing, but times are changing," Miko said in an interview with Buzzfeed. "It's a new conversation. Beauty comes in every variety. If you want to be a model, go do it. Dress up, take pictures, post on your Instagram, tell a story, be proud of who you are right now. Put yourself out there. You never know who is watching."
The internet has always been a breeding ground for change. It gives us all the chance to tell our stories and inspire others. Style bloggers like Kelvin Davis (of Notoriously Dapper) are proving that you don't have to look like a traditional Calvin Klein model to dress well and look great. Tumblr pages like Body Positivity For The Modern Man and Body Positivity For Guys are never-ending sources of positivity and support. Men's body positivity may still be a little ways off from achieving mainstream visibility, but with time, hopefully "love your body" will become as common a mantra for men as it is for women.