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Big is beautiful, yet the lack of plus size male models portrays a gender bias. Women of all shapes and sizes are now the faces of name brands with international campaigns. The problem? The distressing under representation of plus size men. It’s time to start encouraging and furthermore promoting plus size male models or “brawn” models. A complimentary term that holds a positive message of physical strength. Casting brawn models creates opportunity to empower men of all shapes and sizes.

By Natalie Dawson

Before Brawn

Modelling has a long history of infamous and iconic beauty stars. The supermodels of the 1990’s continue to inspire the wave of new, diversified modern models. Household names such as Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss are timeless, yet their male counterparts are arguably not as well known.

Famed supermodel Tyra Banks shared her opinion regarding the position of male models within the industry. She explained in an interview with People TV that male models are often used as accessories for shoots. “I don’t know if they have the careers the female models tend to have,” she said.

Male models whom have found success seemingly fall into the same categories: muscular and caucasian. The lack of diversity upholds the outdated ideology that there is only one type of beauty. This is no longer the case.

The female modelling division has moved mountains to change preconceived perceptions. It’s time to provide the same opportunities for men. There are plenty of diverse male models deserving of the spotlight.

Plus Size Pioneers

The body positive movement continues to grow exponentially. Thanks to innovators like Ashley Graham and Australia’s own Kate Wasley. Women now have alternate representations outside of traditional female sizes. Big is beautiful, yet the lack of plus size male models portrays a gender bias.

The addition of plus size male models to big campaigns encourages the ideas of self-love and body positivity for men. Stereotypically women are often asked to reflect upon their image issues, but men can experience just the same amount of self-doubt. Promoting and hiring plus size models creates opportunity for men to see themselves as beautiful, much like curvaceous women.

It’s time to start encouraging and furthermore promoting plus size male models or “brawn” models. Coined by IMG Models the term “brawn” models act similarly to “curve” models. A complimentary term that holds a positive message of physical strength.

Zach Miko

IMG Models is considered to be one of the most reputable modelling agencies worldwide. They established ‘brawn’ models and brought forth the conversation of body diversity for men. The face of IMG’s plus size male division is Zach Miko. Raised in Stratford, Connecticut, Zach is the picture-perfect voice for the ever-growing brawn division.

Zach is what he is, an average American attempting to rebuild modelling requirements from scratch. His infectious personality and warm charm make Zach a voice of power within the industry. He often blogs his thoughts on the trials and tribulations surrounding having a larger waistline via Chubstr. He answers anonymous queries through the website and shares his personal plus-size experiences.

Zach’s debut into modelling was through a Target campaign. Since then he has broadened his horizons in order to share the message: brawn is beautiful.

Raul Samuel

British brawn model Raul Samuel lives by the inspiring motto: you’ve always got to look at the positive aspects of your body. He shares the appreciation he has for his broad shoulders and how he styles himself accordingly. Raul is one of many diverse examples of an underrated brawn model with a positive message to share.

In May 2019 Raul participated in a faux ‘Love Island‘ campaign shedding light on the lack of body diversity within the popular reality TV show. Love Island’s creator Richard Cowles received criticism regarding his body shaming comments. He claimed that the inclusion of plus size people could result in contestants not being attracted to one another.

Body positive fashion brands Simply Be UK and Jacamo UK came together to push back at Cowles negative outlook on the human body. This collaboration sparked the message that anyBOD is a beach bod!

The campaign received nothing but love as fans noted that they needed this type of diversity on their television screens.

Darnel Ghramm

Model and influencer Darnel Ghramm has been very vocal about his frustrations with fashion brands and their size cut offs. “I wish retailers would see big and tall men and women as equals to their smaller counterparts,” he said in an interview with Extra Extra Style.

In March 2018 Darnel decided enough was enough. Alongside a collection of plus size talent, Darnel recreated the popular A$AP Rocky Calvin Klein advert. The shoot aimed to push boundaries. It showed that different is worthy of representation. Darnel was inspired for the shoot after he was tagged in a comment that stated “I’ve never seen a plus size male model.”

Using the hashtag #WeAreBigAndTall to spread their message, the crew received a wave of positive feedback.

“Eventually we’ll drop ‘plus’ and simply be models,” he said in an interview with the Independent.

Kelvin Davis

Kelvin Davis recently shared the spotlight with the likes of DJ Khaled, David Ortiz, Sundance and Gil Hall for a DXL campaign. Represented by plus size modelling agency Bridge Models, Kelvin spread the word that it’s “time to XL.” A quirky play on words to encourage plus size men to feel good in what they wear.

Bridge Models is currently the only agency that exclusively represents curve models. Established in London in 2014, it took no more than two years for Bridge Models to lay groundwork for a Brawn division.

Bridge Models encourages their models to be represented for their talent and not their size. 

The mantra of the agency is to ‘bridge the gap’ between standard and plus size within the modelling industry.

Kelvin found his fame through a misfortunate shopping experience which he ultimately shared with his social media followers. The model/influencer aims to constantly inspire fellow brawn men through fashion and style.

Ben Whittaker

During Mental Health Awareness Week in early 2019, brawn model Ben Whittaker took part in a fantastic campaign to spread positivity and awareness.

Online men’s health and wellbeing platform, Manual, organised a ‘Men of Manual’ advertisement. The models chosen were of varying body shapes, ethnicities and backgrounds.

Alongside Britain’s first plus size male model, Ben Whittaker, was Bashir Aziz, a vitiligo spokesman and Kenny Ethan-Jones a transgender activist.

The campaign was based of the recent study that discovered 69% percent of men can’t relate to big brands and their advertisements.  Furthermore, 78% of respondents don’t know anyone who even looks like the typical commercial model.

Star of the campaign, Ben Whittaker spoke about his difficulties growing up and feeling different to his friends. He hopes that his presence in campaigns like ‘Men of Manual’ will show men of all sizes that every body is special and unique.

The Benefit of Brawn

The inclusion of plus size female models within big brand campaigns has gained positive traction. It’s only fair to assume brawn models would be met with the same love. Preaching body positivity and body acceptance encourages the regular man to feel represented and appreciated.

Brawn models are the voice plus size men need to reassure themselves that their body is beautiful. Feeling ostracised by the media can result in deteriorating mental health and only through positive representation can this be remedied.

Plus size men deserve to feel stylish. Big brands have the means to expand their sizing and include a versatile range of fashion within their campaigns.

While the modelling industry alongside the fashion industry continues to grow, its pace needs to be accelerated. Everybody should be able to see a version of themselves in the spotlight.

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