What Plus Sized Male Models Wished Every Man Knew

"People who don't have a six pack can't automatically be called unhealthy."

What Plus Sized Male Models Wished Every Man Knew

Image: @raulsamuel_official

The media, and the characters it uses, have an indescribably huge influence on our very being. The figures we see in magazines, on TV, on social media, all portray what we now collectively (but perhaps begrudgingly) agree to be the ‘perfect’, or the ideal. For men, this is six-packs, huge biceps, a chiselled jaw and some form of facial hair (no longer is the 5 o’clock shadow considered the only facial hair a man can be seen with, since the rise of the fully-fledged beard). 

But, as we all also know, not everybody possesses these features. We’re literally not all built the same; biology and genetics make each and every one of us unique, so why are we always presented with similar images of what ‘real men’ should look like? 

Race, too, has to be brought into question, as for a time, men of colour weren’t well represented in the modelling industry either. Speaking to Teen Vogue, male model Broderick Hunter spoke of his experiences as an up and coming black male model: “At the age of 19, if I was to blast on social media, saying ‘Hey, yo, f*ck [this fashion brand], they replaced me with a white guy,’ I probably wouldn’t be here, because I didn’t have the backing behind me to continue my career,” he relates.

“I’m sure it’s still happening. No one knew it was happening to me, but if I say it now, other black male models will say: ‘That happened to me’ or ‘That happened to me yesterday.'”

We’ve certainly seen some changes in the media and modelling industry lately, with a more diverse array of individuals being represented. Yes, there is still a long way to go – the Oscars, for example, finally included two women in the Best Director category for the first time this year – but the ripple effect has most certainly begun. 

To gain a greater insight into the current state of the male model industry, and how easy or difficult it was to get into it, specifically for plus-size models, DMARGE spoke exclusively with Raul Samuel, a plus-size male model currently signed with Bridge Models in the UK and USA.

To get into the industry, Raul took some initiative, “I applied to Bridge and was then invited to a casting. I applied because I was looking for models that were my size and to see how they styled their clothes as inspiration, and that’s where I came across some article online. From there I thought there needs to be more representation, so why not give it a go.”

The media has, for years, been trying to consistently portray the message that six-packs and broad shoulders are what we should be aspiring too, which will naturally be a bit of a hindrance to plus-size models wanting to make an impact. That blanket message is now changing, of course, and to this, Raul says, “People thought it was only done for political correctness and that there’s not a need for it, so most brands didn’t have a lot to show.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with aspiring to have a six pack – but Raul encourages men to open their minds to different aspirations (or at least accepting that may be the case for other people). In other words: you shouldn’t be ashamed if that’s not your ambition and you have different priorities in life than simply looking buff as heck.

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“Now they’re seeing the demand is as great with the males as it is with females in the industry. There are still great strides needed to be made with regard to dedicated sections for most online stores, but I like how it’s going so far.”

As for whether he should be seen as an advocate for bringing awareness to various body shapes and sizes, Raul admits: “It was definitely not what I had in mind. I just know that there needed to be more representation for XXL men and attention to the clothes being made.”

“However, I have to say the team behind me, Bridge models, have been the greatest push for the industry, making sure we have the same right and are treated the same as any other models, even to the point of removing terms like plus size and just using the word models.”

However, it’s not necessarily all good news right now, as Raul relates, “I have had memes made of me a few times, even by big public figures, but it all draws attention to the industry. I expect to get hate, it’s only normal and people don’t like change.”

Speaking of change, some brands still seem unwilling to deviate from the ‘norm’. As for whether plus size models get the same opportunities as others, Raul openly states, “Not really no. There are still quite a few established brands who have thought about it but still haven’t used plus size models. But for example, the Rihanna campaign going viral – the popstar’s Savage x Fenty campaign for lingerie showcasing women of various sizes, shapes and colour – is definitely a wake-up call to the demand that needs to be met.”

That demand certainly should be met. After all, obtaining a Thor-like body is simply unachievable for some men, and for others, it’s simply not what they want. Raul is keen to promote body positive messages:

“People who don’t have a six pack can’t automatically be called unhealthy. If we look around the room we’re sitting in, at least 70% of people probably don’t have six packs, and that’s what we want to represent, it’s them. Just because they don’t look like the stereotypical gym body look, does not mean they are not beautiful.”

“To be healthy is to be a healthy age and lifestyle, it all plays a part. Of course, we want to encourage everyone to be healthy and knowing that you can look good, but you don’t need to drop to 5% body fat to look good.”

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It’s also important to point out that an attitude of body acceptance, and of kindness, is far more likely to inspire overweight individuals to make positive steps in regards to improving their health and fitness, should they so desire, than criticism and shaming – feling depressed and anxious is not conducive to getting out and after it, after all. Feeling accepted and inspired – and happy – people are far more likely to make positive changes to their lives (as well as the occassional bit of tough talk from straight shooters like David Goggins).