Some would say the fashion industry has made strides in inclusive sizing with plus-size female models increasingly being represented. A lot of them, Tess Holliday, Ashley Graham and others have crossed into mainstream media and are well-known all over the world. This is great and a step in the right direction, but what about male plus size models? For far too long, plus size men have been seen as an afterthought in the fashion industry.
There is a stigma attached to men sharing their feelings. They are told from a young age that doing so means you’re weak. But the truth is, men share a lot of the same insecurities as women about their body image and appearance. The difference is, men are taught not to talk about it. But representation matters. It effects how you see yourself, regardless if you’re aware of it or not. And it perpetuates this idea of comparing yourself to societies standard of “normal” and “attractive.” In other words, lack of representation can negatively alter your thoughts about yourself.
And the fashion industry is not alleviating those feelings. In fact, there are 6,000 clothing stores catering to plus-size women. Whereas, larger men have less than 1,000 shopping options available to them. If there was proper representation of plus size men at mainstream fashion brands and mass media, it would help to teach society to normalize all body types.
With that being said, the term ‘plus size’ is usually used when describing women, whereas ‘big and tall’ is applied to men. This is problematic and confusing because a lot of the time ‘big and tall’ does not describe their body shape — further isolating and shaming individuals that don’t fall into this category. The industry needs more male representation. More short, wide, thicker men that show the range of men out there. We need more ethnicities, sexualities, different styles and abilities. The apparel industry must make it its duty and responsibility to ensure its products are empowering and inclusive — both in their offering and labeling.
Photo via Kathryn Wirising/Esquire