THE MALE BODY POSITIVITY MOVEMENT: THE MALE BODY POSITIVITY MOVEMENT IS ABOUT TO GET A HUGE BOOST
Originally written for Askmen.com and published on June 12th, 2016. Click here to read the original post.
Move over, David Gandy! There’s a new male model on the scene who’s now ready for his close-up: Say hello to Zach Miko -- the first guy to sign with Brawn, IMG Models’ newest division for plus-sized men. An avid supporter of the male body positivity movement, he’s a social media force to be reckoned with thanks to his sizeable -- not to mention extremely loyal -- Instagram following (Over 61,000 and counting). Although his towering six-foot-six frame and forty-inch waistline recently received media attention from the likes of American Vogue, People, The New York Times and Good Morning America, the majority of the fashion world unfortunately hasn’t caught up yet.
“My main goal is to one day be able to walk into a store of [my favorite] brand or designer, pick out an outfit I like, try it on, it fits, pay for it and walk out of the store,” says Miko. “That sounds so simple. But that’s an experience I’ve never had in my life.”
His discouragement in shopping for apparel is pretty common with most guys when you start to break down the facts. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the average American male’s waistline is a hefty 39.7 inches. Think about it: A majority of the U.S. men’s population is considered to be plus-sized, yet the fashion industry still hasn’t tapped into this market. “[A] vast majority of brands and designers don’t make pants bigger than a size 38 or in some cases even a 36. The women’s industry has made incredible progress…bringing the women’s plus-sized industry to a $20-billion business. It’s time for the men’s industry to catch up. ”
ZACH MIKO, IMG MODEL’S FIRST MALE PLUS-SIZED MODEL
Hailing from Stratford, Connecticut, Miko worked as a New York City-based actor and comedian before his “very serendipitous” transition into fashion modeling. It all started when his talent manager’s friend happened to be desperately looking for a “big & tall” guy for an upcoming photoshoot. Curious about the gig, he stopped by the casting and eventually -- surprise, surprise -- landed the job. A few months later, after gaining enough experience in front of the camera, he received an Instagram message from none other than Ivan Bart, president of IMG Models. It’s safe to say the rest is history.
“For the most part, I’ve been working for some incredible brands that are strictly ‘Big & Tall,’” he says. “But, lately, I’ve been branching out into bigger brands and even some skincare and haircare lines.
TARGET'S COMMITMENT TO CHANGE
Target, the retail giant known for their long history of inclusivity, gave Miko his first big break last year after including him in a shoot. Since then, he consistently continues to model for them. “[Inclusivity] is a guiding principle behind everything we do, including our marketing efforts,” says Jessica Carlson, Target’s spokesperson. “Our guests look to Target for inspiration, so it’s important that our efforts reflect [their] diversity.”
And diversity is what keeps Miko striving along to create a positive change in a very superficial industry. “There’s a whole world with people of all shapes, sizes, ages, races, beliefs, preferences, and that diversity and individuality is what is really beautiful,” he says. “I hope anyone who feels bad about how they look can open up a magazine, see someone like me and say, ‘Hey, he looks great! And he reminds me of myself, which must mean I look great!’
FROM SCRAWNY TO BRAWN(Y)
Male beauty standards within the modeling industry change faster than models getting dressed backstage during fashion week. Hunks like Marcus Scheckenberg and Tyson Beckford represented the wholesome aesthetic of the Nineties while the early-Aughts experienced a major shift towards a skinnier, more youthful look. But, thanks to IMG’s choice to launch its Brawn division, some are questioning whether trends will shift from scrawny to brawny.
“People want to see themselves represented in the media, and at the moment there is only one type of male model showcased,” says Steven Martin, a plus-sized model recently profiled by Buzzfeed and the Irish Examiner. “This [approach] doesn't speak to the average Joe [nor] the mass market, so it is time for change.
From left to right: Bridge Models' Ben Whit, Steven Martin and Peter Meyer