Today I wanted to open up and share my thoughts as a larger man, who has always been told I am too fat to succeed in the fashion industry. Although people may know me to be really confident about my body size, I wasn’t always that way.
For a little context, during grade 11 of high school, I had lost over 100 lbs. by following really unhealthy eating habits, and also by going to the gym excessively for 2-4 hours per day. I was always extremely self-conscious and definitely faced a fair share of body shaming from fellow students. Once I started University, I couldn’t maintain the workout routines that I was used to and because I was always on the go, I started eating fast food and processed foods on a regular.
When I started my blog 4 years ago, I was one of the only menswear bloggers in Canada, period. I knew that I was not the norm for the fashion industry, in fact, companies would always refer to myself as the plus size guy, despite my effort to educate men of all sizes on how they could improve their personal style.
Getting into the public forum that is blogging, I was met with Internet trolls who made comments about my weight. But despite the Internet trolls doing what they do best, I never expected the same rhetoric to be openly shared within the fashion industry. In my head, I was just a normal guy from Oakville who was obsessed with menswear. Little did I know that I was going to be given the awesome title of being labelled a body positivity leader.
However, I have actually had brands turn down projects because of my size. I am not going to say any names, because this brand was actually smart enough to do it on a phone call and leave no paper trail. But essentially, they asked to work with me, and requested my measurements. Once my measurements had been sent over to their Europe HQ’s, they called me and said due to my measurements, the brand has decided to go a different direction. I was shook… and more so I was pissed that they didn’t email it to myself so my side of the story wouldn’t have any physical proof.
Throughout my years of being a blogger, I have had the displeasure of meeting narrow-minded bloggers and industry people, who clearly did not have a filter and openly made comments about plus size people… almost as if I wasn’t even there. I can recall being on one press trip where I had been recently featured by Buzzfeed as one of their “14 Plus Size Guys Who Are Way Too Hot Too Handle,” following Zach Miko being signed as the first plus size (brawn) male model by IMG. Almost everyone was actually really kind about the feature, except one guy who had the audacity to say (and I’m paraphrasing), ‘why would you want to be known as the big guy? It’s not a good thing from a branding perspective’. Obviously he was just jealous because let’s be honest, Buzzfeed is one of the world’s biggest publications. But now, looking back, I wish I had said something, I was just stunned that someone would say something like that aloud. Here’s the really fucked up part, this guy was the ambassador of this company, and so I didn’t want to burn any bridges with the brand, but looking back at the situation, I wish I had told him off.
Nonetheless, something truly magical came out of the Buzzfeed article, and the out going support and respect that the plus size men within the industry were finally getting. Dozens of publications started to call upon the lack of acceptance for plus size men within the industry, and in fact started to spotlight the few who were there. So unlike the petty guy’s perception that was telling me that it wasn’t a good look to own myself being a plus size guy, it was turning into an advantage. That was the first time I finally felt appreciated for my size since I had started blogging. Ever since then, I promised myself to not only defend plus size people and get brands to call to action and buy larger sizes, but I wanted to share more about this insecurity I always had, and how I overcame it. I started telling myself that I love my body and my size, and speaking up against size shaming.
For everyone who is reading this and my entire plus size community, regardless of your gender identity, I want you all to know that you need to LOVE WHO YOU ARE! Fuck what people want to say about your size, because at the end of the day, these people are non-factors in your life. More importantly, we need to support each other and accept all forms of diversity. We are living in a world where there is so much hate and there are people who deal with the affects of body shaming and bullying by ending their lives. It’s important to recognize that if we all show love for each other, and celebrate what makes us all different, we can then progress and become a more accepting society.
I hope you enjoyed this read, and I would absolutely love it if you could share it on social J.
<3 Syed, The Prep Guy