We’re finally at a point where people aren’t ashamed of their stomach rolls and are celebrating their mermaid thighs. This is true body positivity. Hashtags like #effyourbeautystandards and #allbodiesaregoodbodies are wildly popular on Instagram, and there are dozens of Facebook and YouTube pages committed to celebrating “real” bodies.
But almost every single body-positive blogger, Instagrammer, and celebrity is female. It’s true that women’s bodies have historically been subjected to more scrutiny than men’s, and that has led to long-term consequences we’re still trying to correct. But men also face pressures—to be stronger, taller, more masculine—and we need to make sure the body-positive movement fights against those too.
We’ve seen the first baby steps: Major fashion blogs like Chubstr and Notoriouly Dapper provide resources and community for men of all sizes. But compared to the size of the body-positive community for women, the representation for men just isn’t there.
The most well-known body-positive bloggers—@bodyposipanda, @plankingforpizza, @yourstruelymelly—post in a universal language. Messages like “love your chub” and “every body is beautiful” apply to women and men, after all.
Still, there’s a lot of value in seeing people who look like you tackle the same challenges you’re facing in real time. It may seem silly to connect with a random person on the other side of the internet, but that’s exactly how many people find the role models they need.
We’ve seen how successful representation can be. As the movement has grown, there have been real, tangible changes in the way society and media treats women. Aerie has sworn off retouching its advertisements, and models Ashley Graham and Iskra Lawrence walk runways and land the covers of magazines without anyone batting an eye. Actresses who aren’t super skinny—Amy Schumer and Octavia Spencer come to mind—are getting interesting, complex roles in Hollywood, and more schools and parents are teaching young girls about body image from a young age.
It’s time to do this for men too. That starts by building the community from the ground up, and luckily the process has already begun. Here are four men at the root of it all—they’re actively representing different body types for men and calling for more body diversity in the media. Eventually we’ll need more people like them, but for now, following these guys is a good start.
Miko signed to IMG Models’ newly minted “brawn” division in March 2016, making him the first plus-size male model to join to a major agency. He’s seven inches taller than most other male models, and he’s got a good three or four sizes on them.
As a fashion blogger, body-positive model, and one of the brains behind the @EffYourBeautyStandards Instagram account, Davis is a busy guy. But he believes in what he’s doing: One bad shopping trip made him pledge to never apologize for his body again, and he’s encouraging other men to do the same.
Here’s a guy who has cultivated an impressive Instagram following with his style posts and, presumably, totally relatable love of tacos. Solomon isn’t shy when it comes to talking about (or showing off) his plus-size body.
Matt Joesph Diaz
On top of having a really inspiring story, Diaz writes a lot about the importance of expanding the body-positivity community. He believes it needs to be more of a priority, and obviously, we agree.