With the increased visibility of the plus size modeling industry this last year, we're arguably living in a time of more diverse representation for women than ever. And finally, men are getting some of the body positive treatment they too deserve. IMG Models launched a plus size male model department, according to Women's Wear Daily. The new division will be named "Brawn," and will represent male models who fall under the "big and tall" category of fashion.
You might recognize the agency's first sign as Zach Miko from the Target advertisements that gained headlines in 2015. At the time, using a plus size male model to advertise plus size male clothing was practically unheard of. Standing at 6'6" with a 40-inch waist, Miko is a man who actually wears XXL tall T-shirts, so it only makes sense for him and others like him to model them, too.
The truth is that Miko's rise to fame has been a revolution for male fashion. Despite being what some might call a small fat, his body type and weight are very rarely seen in fashion imagery. As diversity in female modeling has become more inclusive, it's become more apparent that the same hasn't been true for our male counterparts. But body shaming is an issue that affects all of us, no matter our designated sex. Representation and visibility for all sizes of all genders is a necessity that we should be pushing for.
When asked about the Brawn division, IMG president Ivan Bart told WWD that the name was meant to represent "physical strength," but that the meaning and influence of the plus size male model department will hopefully be about much more than that. “The body positive messaging and size diversity is something that’s relevant and something that continues to be on everybody’s mind. We have to extend the conversation for men."
He went on to discuss his own experiences with body image, telling the publication, "I consider myself a beefy, stocky kind of guy or whatever buzzword you want to use. I’m in the fashion business and I’m required to dress fashionably but yet I have size issues. It becomes defeating when [...] I go to certain stores they don’t have my size."
The push for more available plus size male fashion is essential, and perhaps the rise of male plus size models will bring attention to that. As many plus size women can likely attest to, finding plus size clothing that isn't either ugly or incredibly expensive can be tough. And the same is true for fat, fashionable men.
As Bart told Refinery29, "The success of our Curve business for women was an indicator that this cannot be a one-sided conversation. In an ideal world, fashionable clothing should be an option in all sizes. We want people to feel good about themselves no matter their size."
I for one can't wait for a revolution to go down in male fashion, and will be waiting for the beautiful plus size men of IMG to rock the boat a little.
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