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Hey guys!

More and more clothing brands are featuring plus-size female models, limiting things like airbrushing and just overall embracing REAL bodies. And I’m sooo here for it. Campaigns like Aerie Real are seriously changing the game for advertising and making a positive impact on body image 🙌

But… what about men?

Have you ever noticed that you NEVER see male models in larger sizes? Think about your favorite brands. Usually, the men are pretty fit and “ideal” looking. Even the brands who show a variety of sizes don’t show models who are necessarily plus-sized, and there’s definitely not as much emphasis.

So… why are male plus-size models not a thing? Here are my thoughts!

clothing store

Women’s appearance gets more attention than men’s

This is just the reality of advertising, and our culture. Society is just more critical of the we look as women! If we gain weight, lose weight, look too thin or too big, if we have wrinkles, if we choose to use cosmetic surgery, etc.

The world of marketing knows this. So of course they put a lot of energy into targeting women for any relevant brand out there.

That includes fashion. Since women are judged more for their appearance, marketing women’s fashion is just more complex. And right now, body positivity is HUGE. It only makes sense that brands take that initiative and run with it. They get to support a positive movement, while appealing to more customers.

The tone is just different for men. So maybe that’s why brands don’t feel as pressed to diversify their models?

man shopping clothes

There’s not as much need for “male role models”

Women are perpetually influenced by body image.

I’m not saying that diet culture never affects men, but I think women are a much MUCH bigger target. We grow up SURROUNDED by diet culture, with the message that “skinny is best” basically smothering us.

Men might get a little of that, but the tone and pressure don’t feel as intense.

So maybe brands are noticing (or are being TOLD) that they need to feature more plus-size female models to serve as role models. To show that bigger bodies are beautiful and to show how all body types can look amazing in the clothes they’re selling.

Men on the other hand, might just not have as much of a need for that?

Or maybe they DO, but we don’t hear about it as much. Hmmmm..

blue suits on male mannequins

Women are inspired by what is relatable. Men are inspired by what’s ideal.

Ok, here’s what I mean by this:

When women shop for new clothes, it’s usually discouraging to see a cute dress or jeans on a model with a “perfect body.” Why? Because most of us are going to be like “well, I don’t look like THAT, so those jeans will NEVER look good on me.”

But when we see a model with a more “relatable” body type, we’re more likely to be like “OOOOOH yes she looks amazing in that, so maybe it will be flattering on me too!”

It seems like men are just wired (or influenced) a little differently. Maybe it’s because they’re not programmed to be as critical of their own bodies, I don’t know. But men either don’t pay attention to the model AT ALL, or they see a perfect-bodied male model (I’ve noticed well-known athletes model men’s clothes a lot) and men are like “YES this shirt is gonna make me look good.”

So basically what I’m saying is… women are more likely to compare themselves to “perfect” models in a negative way. Men are more likely to feel motivated by it.

Again, just an idea!

What do you think? Do we need more male plus size models? 

I wanna know what you think! Should brands use female AND MALE plus size models?

Let’s discuss in the comments!

The Conversation (29)

Got some thoughts? Share them!

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  • Annie says:

    I think you’re spot on – while I do think it’s a little hypocritical for us to celebrate plus-size women but continue to shame plus-size men (which is a WHOLE other discussion), I do think men are less impacted by body image. That’s not to say they aren’t impacted at all, but I do think the reverse is true for men. While women are told “skinny is better” all our lives, men are told that skinny is the worst thing they could possibly be. At least that’s the general idea I’ve gotten from most of the men in my life. And again, while men certainly aren’t immune to feeling bad about their bodies, I think as a general rule they are wired differently. Combine that with the fact that they aren’t pressured from the time they exit the womb to look pretty, skinny, and perfect, and there you have it!

  • Amy says:

    I think we do. There’s a lot of men I’ve talked to that have felt undesirable because of the standards they think they need to fill. This goes from body ideals to filling the typical male gender role (providing for others, being strong, pushing down emotions, etc). Unfortunately it’s not an opinion they get to share often because of the expectation that they should not have these feelings or they’re not “manly”. I think everyone deserves to see themselves represented :)

  • Stephanie says:

    Thank you for the article! We definitely need models with more body types. I think regardless of a person’s gender, most people want to feel like they belong and see someone that looks like them. Often models show the “ideal” body type. Seeing this message and constantly comparing oneself sucks no matter what gender you are. I think having plus size masculine models is a way to show, acknowledge, and hopefully actually celebrate that these body types exist and are beautiful.

  • Zoya says:

    Hmm… I think it’s just more accepted that men can be fat, that’s why it’s not a movement. We see fat men and if they are rich, that’s what matters. Thay don’t have to change unless thay are in the dumpsters. It’s seen as natural for men to become fat after a certain age or if they get married and it’s seen as the female’s responsibility to be pretty and perfect. Or if men get
    stable jobs, it doesn’t matter if they have a stable health grade. This concept is soo generalized that no one feels the need for a movement.
    The world only pushes for a change if the man is in the dumpsters and that’s that. That’s the only time men may want/be willing to change. All because of ego and it’s downfall…

    Also, we can’t disregard the fact that all this female body positivity came after a long fight for equality. The male image needs to be brought down from that toxic pedestal and the toxic masculinity needs to stop, then the men can express what they feel about their body representation in shopping malls, etc. All of this will be the the opposite of how it happened in female history because men were on the pedestal and women were down below somewhere…
    Didn’t mean to hurt anyone,
    Peace 💙💚
    Zoya

  • Katheryn says:

    My late ex-husband always saw himself as the athlete he had been in high school. It did not matter that he had gained 70 lbs since then and no longer exercised at all. He thought he was the same. If he was typical, then it has to be said that men may not have an accurate perception of their current appearance. At the same time, they often do not hesitate to hold the women in their lives to higher standard of fitness and attractiveness than they are able to achieve themselves. President Trump is a very good example of this.

  • Max says:

    This is only how I feel and have observed, but I do think that we guys are more bothered by very one sided ideal bodytype than what we let know. But can’t really say it loud ’cause we’re afraid to be labeled as weak or whiny. And you know, man must always be strong, unbothered and doesn’t really need to care about things like that. Ah, toxic masculinity </3

    As a small foreword, my personal experiences might be bit different from the usual cis-guys since I'm transman (female-to-male trans). I've come to accept that I'll always be extra critical how I see my own body and that most likely I won't ever be able to actully love my body, best I can do (and my goal for now) is to get along with it. Which is still huge achievement compared to full on hate I used to have pre-treatments.
    But still, it's very disheartening to see how almost all male models are either skinny or muscular. And body shapes are all either well, skinny over all, broad shoulders/back with narrow waist or broad shoulders/back with narrow waist and muscular legs (those mostly for more body building/gym oriented products/clothing lines). And then there is me, who is very bottom heavy with small upperbody. I've been on hrt (hormone replacement therapy) for years, but it can't change bone structure. And if I gain weight, it mostly goes to my lower body and I can build muscle more easily on lower body compared to upper body. I do know that also some cis-men have similar A-shaped body, but it is hard to remember and to tell my head when it feels like it doesn't fit in society approved body shapes.

    • blogilates says:

      Hi Max! Thank you for sharing this! I think it goes to show that we are all more similar than we think…
      And I’m seeing so many comments about toxic masculinity – a topic I want to keep exploring for sure. Thank you for your comment!!

  • Thalia says:

    Since toxic masculinity teaches men to keep their emotions in, and be strong no matter what, maybe the industry isn’t putting in any effort. I’m sure it depends on the guy, but my boyfriend does feel pressure to look differently because of how fit all models are. Yes I think there should be more body types when it comes to male models! Thanks for this article, I’ve never really thought about this before!! <3

    • blogilates says:

      That’s so interesting! You’re right…I guess it depends on guy to guy if they feel the pressure, but then again, maybe those who say they don’t mind also don’t want to admit it?!

  • Heekyung says:

    In the history women have not been human right. Men only thought women who were a sexual partner. So women naturally were interested in their appearance because of men’s love. The cause of it was survival.
    Women were so much more weaker than men. Sadly I think that is the history of women’s appearance.

  • Miquel says:

    My two cents – as a male – the image of the “ideal” make cuts deeper. At times, yes, there was inspiration. More often, the “ideal” has taken its toll.

  • Kat says:

    Hi, gender and masculinity academic here! I have actually run a few studies regarding men and body image/marketing and (similar to the comments below), men really do feel the pressure. It’s impossible to compare gendered experiences, but i don’t think that it is because they care less but rather that caring would be a significantly worse blow to their identity. I’ve often found that coping with unrealistic ideal bodies comes out as snide remarks or uncomfortable sarcasm to divert attention instead of a recognition that seeing super fit models and comparing yourself honestly sucks. I think we have a LONG way to go before we see plus size male models because while feminism has given women this space, the same has not been given to men. I would love to chat more about this too! Thank you for using your platform to draw attention to this discrepancy.

    • blogilates says:

      WOW this is soooooo interesting, thank you for sharing

    • Beth says:

      Yes! I think this is very accurate. My adult son, who is both very slender and shorter than average- has a VERY hard time finding clothing in his size. Stores just don’t sell clothing in smaller sizes for men- just your standard SML with the very occasional xs, and I can see, if I shop with him, how not only frustrating it is, but how it makes him feel “less than”, or excluded- as if he is not good enough. But, he will not express that feeling, instead, he will make sarcastic remarks, or self-deprecating humor to get around a feeling that is most likely very hurtful and difficult. It definitely isn’t just a matter of plus-size, but any size that is outside of the very narrow parameters of what’s considered normal for men. Imagine having stores that catered to petite men, like they have for women? Not ever going to happen.

  • Wow, this was REALLY insightful, especially the part about how makes think it’s going make them look good, whereas females think we would never lookt hat good.

    I’m gonna adopt the former mindset from now on! It’s much more positive.

  • Pamela says:

    I asked my husband and this was his response:
    Your typical (assumed straight?) male doesn’t even care to see other men’s bodies at all, and are probably not scrutinizing the model or consciously comparing themselves. Models are only necessary because clothes look like fabric sacks if they’re not on a person. So of course the sellers are going to try to advertise their wares in the best possible light by portraying them on the most conventionally attractive models.
    Again, above is not my response, but a man’s.

  • Kristen says:

    Yes! Men also have more than one body type – particularly my husband. He has all sorts of exceptions to what we typically see on male models. I like how you said men see clothes on a model and feel motivated, whereas women feel body negative. I think this goes along with something you’ve said before – it’s all in our head!

  • Abbie says:

    Interesting! I’d never even thought about male plus size models. I’m curious now lol. I really liked your reasons. Women are definitely more notorious for comparing our bodies- maybe it’s actually something we could learn from the guys.😂

  • ghost says:

    Interesting and that’s true

  • Inga says:

    You made me really curious about this topic. I noticed things like this too, like, why do men never complain about ridiculously athletic guys in every show and advertisement? I’m going to talk to my boyfriend about this, maybe I’ll get some insights.

  • Jessica L Chandler says:

    Well, gender norms aside in this topic of conversation…

    My boyfriend has more or less told me that he feels pressure to be and or look a certain way. For men, its broad shoulders, skinny waist and hips. While we, as women, might not be as privy to it, it does bother guys. I mean truly, what are the chances a man will speak up about it? That’s toxic masculinity at work folks. Telling men, even if he doesn’t like that his shape isn’t represented, he shouldn’t speak up about it because then he’ll be labeled as weak or too sensitive.

    Target is a great example of this. At target, everything from the swimsuit to the lingerie section, I’m seeing plus sized mannequins for womens clothes. And its great! But I go into the mens section, and it’s the same as it ever was.

    While I don’t think it bothers some men, I also think it’s because they can’t ever be told to love themselves. Because that too is weakness. I would love to see more sizes represented in mens fashion. Because too often, my boyfriend will see something and out loud say, I can’t wear that because I’m too fat. He’s actually told me this. Men can be VERY insecure. I think they just often aren’t given a platform where they can comfortably share their discomfort.

    The body positivity campaign has been great for women but i honestly do think that men are getting left behind. Yes, womens fashion is higher selling, more popular, etc. But I think if there was more of an emphasis for men to explore clothing then it could be a gateway to them slowly learning to accept their bodies and not be told that loving yourself is a weakness.

    Hopefully that makes sense! 😊 thanks cassey!

  • Mandy says:

    Casseey you should watch Queer Eye on Netflix, the 5 hosts help straight men in season 1 to dress their body type!

  • Ena says:

    I agree that the emphasis on male appearances is less stringent. They definitely have “ideals”/”rules”, but they aren’t as ubiquitous as beauty standards for women. There are so many beauty items are marketed toward women, and not men. For example, have you noticed that Lumify (eye drops to make your eyes whiter), Abreva (for cold sores), and teeth whitening commercials are all targeted towards women, even though men could make use of those products too? It only makes sense that women also got tired of seeing only thinner people as models for clothing as well.

    I feel that there aren’t as many male plus size models because either males have not felt the degree of scrutiny to the point where they are demanding more plus size models; or perhaps they feel that if they speak out, it makes them look “weak” for “complaining”. Others may just tell them to hit the gym, for example. I have read that women/girls have become used to the scrutiny/beauty standards, whereas for men, they’re just becoming more cognizant of it, as our society changes (perhaps because of social media/sharing photos). I think there may be a point where men are also overwhelmed by the pressure of living up to beauty standards, but whether they speak out on it, I’m unsure. I feel like their socialization would prevent many of them from speaking out about it, so they don’t appear “weak”.

    I don’t think that they are “wired” differently, but society does not dote as much on males’ appearances. This would result in men also not doting on their own appearances.

  • Laura says:

    I have several male friends who struggle with their weight and/or are on fitness journeys of their own. And say, when we are being honest, that seeing a certain body type all the time – like an athlete – is depressing. They see it as they only thing that is desirable to society and women. I love the way we’re opening up to more body types for women but it’s not happening on the man side. This gives my male friends the impression that if you don’t look like Henry Cavill then you aren’t desirable. I think it’s not getting as much attention because, well, opening up about insecurities isn’t seen as very “manly.” So they hide it. It’s only with my closest friends during deep discussions that they’ll admit to these feelings. Maybe it’s not widespread but I do know how it affects my male friends.

  • Sway says:

    I suppose a lot of it comes down to the image that is associated with a person’s weight/shape. I have noticed this while trying to look for sustainable/local brands but all of them seem to completely forgoe plus/largers sizes.

    So my theory (and this is all it is) is that a) a sustainable lifestyle is somewhat more expensive, b) overweight people are often associates with being slackers, have lower income and therefore eat only junk food (hence the overweightness). So they won’t have the money to buy more sustainable clothing, ergo there’s no need for brands to branch out in that direction.

    I think something similar might apply in this case. A plus-size man might be associated with a certain type of personality. To overdraw this, I’m picturing someone who is either living with their parents or a significant other who might do all the shopping for them. So they themselves don’t need the (role) model. And the shopper might then again be female.

    That being said… as someone well overweight, I find ridiculous what passes as plus-size. And when you look up brands that actually do have larger sizes, the models are rarely actually “fat” (a term which I claim for myself) but mostly just not a size zero. When you end up ordering that piece of clothing (because of so many plus-size brands are only available online) that’s supposed to be a 3XL, it’ll look nothing like it did in the photo because the model was only wearing L or XL.

    All that being rambled on… I love what you’re doing to promote body positivity!

  • Sketkh says:

    Zach Miko is lauded as a working Male Plus Size Supermodel.

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