2016 marks the year of the plus-size model. Last month, Ashley Graham became the first plus-sized woman to be on the cover of “Sports Illustrated” magazine. This month, plus-sized female Nadia Aboulhosn graced the cover of “Women’s Running” magazine. Now, top international model management firm IMG Models has introduced a new division for plus-sized male models.
According to BuzzFeed, the firm has also created a marketable term for the recently launched division: “Brawn.” “The body positive message and size diversity is something that’s relevant … We have to extend the conversation for men,” Ivan Bart, president of IMG Models, told WWD. Bart, who considers himself a “stocky kind of guy,” struggles to find fashionable clothing in his size and hopes that this new division will push brands to consider producing larger sizes for men.
The first man signed to the new division is Zach Miko. According to People, this 26-year-old gained attention in the past for being Target’s only plus-sized male model. Miko, who is 6’6” with a 40-inch waist, told BuzzFeed, “Being a man of size, I never imagined for a minute that this would be a possible career. Then Ivan told me about his dreams for the fashion industry: diversity, inclusion, evolution … The Brawn division is going to open up the fashion world to the everyman.”
“Women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful and confident and sexy. The conversation has changed from ‘This is what beautiful is’ to ‘What is beautiful?’ I am humbled to be able to raise that question for the men’s industry,” Miko added.
Conversations about the new division have already exploded. When Mamamia shared the news, one reader wrote: “I’ll be interested to see if these plus size men get the same criticism as plus size female models. Will they be told they’re promoting an unhealthy lifestyle too?” The comment comes after ex-model Cheryl Tiegs said that “Sports Illustrated” was glamourising full-figured women who aren’t “healthy in the long run” when Graham appeared on the magazine’s cover, according to ABC News. However, the public actually seems to have a different issue with Miko. When BuzzFeed shared the news, many readers commented that the healthy male model isn’t actually plus-size.