While women were constantly at the butt end of jokes on weight in the past decades, male privilege itself and the social stigmas surrounding masculinity are causing the significant delay in the body positivity movement for male bodies. Thankfully, as the fashion industry slowly diversifies over the years, more and more plus-size male models have made waves all over the world, encouraging more people to join the movement and spearhead change. South Africa, for instance, just recently made history through its first completely plus-size male fashion show, #PlusIsEqual.
Dad Bod Is Beautiful: #PlusIsEqual Will Be the World’s All-Male Plus-Size Fashion Show
The body positivity movement, largely driven by mainstream social media, popularly took root in this generation after female model Tess Holliday founded @EffYourBeautyStandards to challenge the unrealistic standards of feminine beauty like smooth skin, body size, and avoidance of any imperfections. It originally yet quietly began in the 1960s (the era of the likes of Twiggy), slightly returned in the 1990s, and finally took center stage in the 2010s. Naturally, this movement is intended for everyone regardless of gender, but more often than not, with the way it is portrayed, it seems like this movement is greatly biased toward women.
Thankfully, the Radisson RED Hotel V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, is making history with their #PlusIsEqual casting call for 12 plus-size male models just last week Saturday, November 9. The historic male fashion show is overseen by revered fashion show director Mary Reynolds and will showcase a new plus-size men’s range designed by a designer who is yet to be revealed.
“As a brand that welcomes all things different and unique, we are excited to celebrate men of all sizes. While it’s promising to see women being a focal point of this conversation, we want to remind people to also include larger men in the movement toward body confidence and equal representation,” says Leonie Andereya, Curator at RED.
The spokesperson for the campaign was actor TJ Ngoma, who advocates for visibility and representation to create real and long-lasting change. “I want to see a person that looks like me on billboards and runways. I hope to inspire South Africans to see that a plus-size man’s body is beautiful and should be celebrated just the same.”
While the movement hasn’t received much attention in South Africa, body positivity among plus-size men is slowly gaining more attention in countries like the US, UK, and Australia, highlighting the need for change in the fashion industry.