What is inclusivity in the fashion space?
Remember when certain stores made you feel like crap? (yeah, we won’t mention those.) Or remember when you’d see half-naked models at the forefront of advertising campaigns? (My insecure 13-year old self is still scarred mentally from it.)
We’ve grown from those days.
It seems that in 2021, big-box retailers and fashion companies have done their part to become more inclusive to the consumer. Societal members of the world want to be seen, heard, and represented across the globe. For the most part, I’d say that we’ve grown significantly!
But have you noticed that in the world of influencers on social media preaching inclusivity, calling out brands for not having “acceptable” size ranges in today’s body positivity movement, and wanting representation shown across all platforms is one-sided?
Let that sink in for a second…
What about the male model...
Have you ever noticed a difference between fashion marketing geared towards women versus men? When you see mannequins displayed at store-fronts, do you notice the (female) mannequins are all different shapes and sizes, but the (male) mannequins are one body type?
Have you ever noticed or realized that the ones primarily fighting for inclusivity in the fashion space are women?
Female influencers often recognize and congratulate brands who are doing their part in the inclusivity movement. But have these influencers stopped to think that the inclusivity movement isn’t inclusive across the board? If someone wants to preach inclusivity, then we need to come together and be inclusive for all!
So you might ask, why am I bringing this topic up?
Well, one day I was scrolling on Facebook one night (yeah, still go on facebooks guys) and came across a series of photos that someone shared onto their feed. One that caught my eye was the below picture and quote….
And I thought to myself; “you don’t see plus-size male models in fashion. why is that?”
You see a ton of representation from clothing retailers targeted towards women. You see petite women, plus size women, racially diverse women, people who identify as women, athletic women, younger women, and older women in fashion magazines, advertisements, on the runways, etc.
As for men, you may see racial and age diversity, but you will see the same body type. You know what I’m talking about, the tall, lean, six-pack abs, chiseled face, you know, Mr. Perfect. The kind of male model/mannequin that is aspirational, not inspirational.
This made me ponder the lack of representation...
These conversations and walks through Target made me start to ponder…
- Why do we idolize the female spectrum of body positivity & inclusivity but not the male?
- Do men not care about representation in fashion?
- Do men think about body positivity?
- Do men have an influencer they can idolize as women do?
- Are there plus-size male models or male models who promote body positivity?
- If men speak up on a topic like representation, inclusiveness, and diversity, will the man be viewed as “weak” or “feminine”?
- Do men say that don’t care to protect their egos amongst other men? And if they have the non-typical male opinion, it makes the man inferior to the other?
So I decided to see if other men felt the same way as I did about the issue at large. I asked a couple of men in my immediate circle how they felt about male body positivity here is what they had to say.
- My father: “I had never really thought or cared about that.” “I just look for the pants in the size I need and go on with my day.” My dad is one with the times in terms of fashion. (LOL)
- My boyfriend: “It would be nice to see mannequins who are short like me because certain types of clothes fit differently on a taller mannequin versus someone my height.” “Other than that, I don’t care so much.
How interesting that both my partner and my father have similar opinions. But that’s just my immediate circle, so I took to Instagram and wanted to hear others’ opinions on the matter, here’s what some had to say.
- “VERY Little representation of plus-size men in fashion! My hub is 6’3 and XXL” – @hightristie
- “As a former romance author & former romance book graphic designer, it’s the association of the stereotypical “perfect” male body to the perfect personality in women’s fantasy novels. If the male hero was buff af, he was also the best and nicest and most romantic. Why are we feeding this pre-determined definition of what a “perfect” body is anyway?” – Melanie Anne Bousquet
Are there even male plus size models?
Next, I wanted to see if any plus-size male models existed in the world. Were there men who represented the non-conventional body type? Turns out, there are but very few and far between.
From a quick google search and some internet stalking, I came across an article from The Huntswoman who mentioned some male body positive influencers. Here’s the top 5 on the list:
- Kavah King | @gentlemenscurb
- Bruno Martenus | @brunomartenus
- Scott Bayliss | @scottbayliss_
- Claus | @clausfrankfurt
- Chubstr | @chubstr
What I immediately noticed is those male body-positive influencers that I saw listed had less than 20K followers on their Instagram.
A comparison to female body-positive influencers'...
- Candice Huffine | @candicehuffine
- Jessamyn | @mynameisjessamyn
- Jameela Jamil | @jameelajamilofficial
- Ashley Graham | @ashleygraham
- CeCe Olisa | @ceceolisa
First off, these pages had a blue check next to them. Indicating that they’re “official” on the gram. How come the fellas don’t get the same attention?
Secondly, look at their follower counts. ALL of the women are up in 100k plus range, while the HIGHEST male body positive influencer I’ve seen thus far is only 15k. Making me wonder,
- Is body positivity NOT a priority in the male-dominant world?
- Is that type of influencer non-existent to a typical male?
- Do men seek other types of role models to look up to?
Thirdly, if you look at the content both male and female body-positive influencers capture for the gram; it is honestly very identical. From the captions, poses, filters, and content from both the male & female influencers, if you put them side by side; you would never be able to tell that this post is from a male versus female.
Shouldn’t the promotion of being beautiful in your skin, embracing your body, feeding your soul the mental nourishment it needs to survive & thrive in this world be universal? #foodforthought
A conversation with Mac & Summer
Hear Summer and Mac have a candid and open conversation about under-representation in the male fashion world. They dive deep into the conversations from above, as well as touch on some pretty heavy moments surrounding the male ego, mental health, sexuality, and how we still have a long way to go before we are all truly equal.
Share your thoughts.
What do you think about all this? Should men of all sizes be represented more in fashion campaigns? Do you think brands need to step up their game in terms of diversity and inclusivity? Because inclusivity includes everybody and every BODY!
Share your thought with us and let’s get the conversation started about the need for body inclusivity in the male fashion world.