The fuss over the female body’s representation in the media has been all the rage for years, and although it seems that women have been seeing more and more diversity amongst models in the media, there hasn’t really been any sort of male equivalent – until now, with the news that IMG Models have recently hired their first plus-size model.
The company, which is famed for representing slim and toned men, has announced a new division called Brawn, which is intended to cater for bigger and taller men and reinforce the message of body positivity. Their first recruit, Zach Miko, measures 6’6” and has a 42-inch waist, 10 inches larger than the typical IMG male model. It was a pleasant surprise for Miko, who never thought he had a shot in this career due to his size.
While I’m at it, why do so many of these male models have their shirts off? Modelling clothes is, like, their one thing…
IMG Models President Ivan Bart has said that he wants to extend the beauty conversation to men, and hopefully have an impact on the world of fashion. Considering himself a stockier man, he notes that it becomes ‘defeating’ when he can’t find his own clothes size in certain stores when he wants to dress fashionably.
My first response to this news, as a man verging somewhat on the larger side myself, is that it is good – I’m not massively influenced by advertising, but seeing nothing but impossibly slim and chiselled men modelling clothes that seem to barely fit over their rippling abs is a touch dispiriting to say the least. And while I’m at it, why do so many of these male models have their shirts off? Modelling clothes is, like, their one thing.
Although the question of beauty and appearance is unisex, there is definitely a heavier focus on women – they are the ones suffering from nonsensical concepts like thigh gaps and having their eyebrows on fleek…
The more I think about it, though, I can’t help but think that the gesture may be a bit more meaningless than first intended. Although the question of beauty and appearance is unisex, there is definitely a heavier focus on women – they are the ones suffering from nonsensical concepts like thigh gaps and having their eyebrows on fleek. A lot of men, on the other hand, couldn’t care less. I don’t know any men who compare themselves to male models as women do (and the only male model I could name is Derek Zoolander).
There is an issue here, though, in that the idea of a ‘plus-sized’ model indicates there is some ‘normal’ size and, although IMG wants to extend the beauty conversation to men, I can’t help but feel what it has done is essentially a throwaway gesture.
The latest to join the brand new, highly popular league of ‘plus sized models’ is Ashley Graham, who graced Sports Illustrated’s latest swimsuit issue. It’s wonderful to see that she is not squeezed in alongside an array of stick-thin women, but rather she is featured as the sole cover girl in all her glory.
With the immense power that the media has to influence the general public, this new initiative is revolutionary in opening a new door to how society views women. In an industry dominated by skinny women, the emergence of the plus sized woman on our television screens, billboards, and magazine covers has truly turned a fresh page in the era of womanhood.
There’s the possibility that women will soon no longer have to stress about their enlarging bodies during pregnancy and might get a chance to just focus on embracing their motherhood…
Adolescent girls might now get to go through puberty without the constant pressure to fit in being ingrained into their impressionable minds. Boys can appreciate the diverse beauty of the girls around them, instead of comparing them to the size zero women the media presents to them.
There’s the possibility that women will soon no longer have to stress about their enlarging bodies during pregnancy and might get a chance to just focus on embracing their motherhood. Women with a low metabolism might also get to eat to their heart’s content without the fear of disapproving eyes glaring at them.
This unfortunate relationship between the term ‘plus sized’ and ‘unhealthy’ is far from true…
However, in spite of all this positivity, the introduction of the plus sized woman has inevitably reared an ugly question. In the case of the model Ashley Graham, people have asked: ‘But why showcase an unhealthy woman on the cover of a sports magazine promoting the exact opposite?’
Ashley Graham has faced backlash for her body not being healthy since the publication of her cover. However, this unfortunate relationship between the term ‘plus sized’ and ‘unhealthy’ is far from true.
Graham, who sports a 32-inch waist and fleshy thighs, is a woman who exercises regularly and follows a healthy diet. Plus-sized is far from being obese; it is not a health condition, it is not abnormal: it is realistic. Plus-size is a commonly occurring body type, something as natural as curly hair. We need to stop equating the term plus sized to obesity in order to eradicate today’s body shaming culture.
It is time to take this to the next level: we need to completely tear down existing distinctions of body image…
We need to appreciate that the idea of ‘thin enough’ is being revamped as the images of skinny models are replaced by more realistic ‘plus sized’ women. Women all over the world are being encouraged to love their bodies just as they are, instead of hopelessly striving for impossible body standards that the media and the fashion industry constantly shove down their throats.
Instead of discouraging this initiative and deeming it ‘unhealthy’, it is time to take this to the next level: we need to completely tear down existing distinctions of body image. The term plus-sized might have negative connotations, so why not get rid of the term altogether and learn to appreciate the human body simply for what it is? Or like Graham said, “let’s call it curvasexalicious instead!”