Image: Rob Reeves
Because we still live in a culture that demands that men remain unaffected by emotional issues and “man up,” they have no space in which to safely talk about bullying, self-esteem, and other important body topics. Friends, silent oppression is the scariest oppression of them all.
Finding a cisgender man who talks publicly about body image and politics is kinda like coming across a gelato-eating unicorn who murmurs compliments about how sexy your brain is with an Italian accent. My poorly made point: It’s pretty fucking rare.
But these humans do exist, and THANK GOD they do. Mainstream capitalization on male body image issues may be “new” in comparison to the historical obsession with policing women’s bodies, but I would have to say that it’s just as important — maybe even more so. Here’s why: cisgender men have been targeted in similar ways for a few decades now (Naomi Wolf notes a large social focus on this starting in the 1990s) which seems recent but know this: it’s a rapidly growing issue. In the last few years, beauty products marketed towards men have increased by over 70%. Men also deal with eating disorders, body dissatisfaction and other similar issues often assumed to be experienced by just women.
The most alarming thing? Because we still live in a culture that demands that men remain unaffected by emotional issues and “man up,” they have no space in which to safely talk about bullying, self esteem and other important body topics. Friends, silent oppression is the scariest oppression of them all.
SO, I’m so glad to see an emergence of male voices that are demanding a piece of the Internet in which to talk about these critical subjects. Unfortunately, in comparison to the female voices that are available, these guys are few and far between. But there are some, and I’d love to introduce you to a few that belong on your radar:
1. Bruce Sturgell
Bruce Sturgell is the founder of Chubstr — a website dedicated to plus-size men who are looking for fashion that fits. When I met him last year, we had an amazing conversation about how fashion is a safe entry into the world of body postivity. Even those who don’t feel comfortable talking about body image issues can find support in the fashion community. He’s a peach. Follow him on Twitter here and like Chubstr's Facebook while you’re at it.
2. Andrew Walen
3. William Beave Brooks
William is a “personal shopper and stylist for the Big Guy.” He has a line called BeBow Fashions and posts the most amazing outfit photos of his daughter. And when they get negative reactions, he’s not afraid to talk some body autonomy with the Internet.
4. Aaron Flores
I met Aaron this year and was able to attend his hilarious and informative presentation that combined his experiences as a fat nutritionist, intuitive eating, and Star Wars. Yes, you read that correctly. Visit him here.
5. Michael-Anthony Spearman
A Detroit gentleman inspiring gentlemen of all sizes. As Bruce mentions, fashion is a “safe” way for men to gain visibility and work on issues around body image. This guy has style in spades. Check out his Instagram here!
6. Kelvin Davis
Kelvin writes my favorite male fashion blog ever called Notoriously Dapper. I found him through Instagram because of his #EffYourBeautyStandards hashtags, which made me incredibly happy! His sexy Instagram is here.
7. Matt Diaz
Matt became a well-known body image activist after posting an amazingly vulnerable shirtless video of his body after losing a large amount of weight. He’s a prominent male voice that is equal parts cheerfulness and “fuck you haters.” I always appreciate those people. Follow his Instagram I COMMAND YOU.
And while you’re here, check out this Body Positivity For Guys Tumblr: It’s a “body positivity blog specifically for all of us male-identified, masculine-bodied, and/or masculine-presenting people of Tumblr.”
Do you have any inspirational male role models to add to the list? Leave them in the comments below!
(Stay tuned for the upcoming "7 trans folks to follow in the body image movement"!)