By Margetta Sowah
Twitter – @bohomags
Men are often seen as the bread winners, taste-makers, and hunter extraordinaire. They are at the top of the food chain but also stand at the bottom of the pecking order… a contradiction in terms? You could say that. What it comes down to is constructive sympathy for our male counterparts to icons like Gisele, Kate, Naomi and Cara.
Overlooked and objectified
The male model has often been a misplaced mark on the bullseye of beautification. When researching this topic the public opinion was obvious – we don’t value male models. Yes the Fashion industry advocates male modeling as an occupation but that does not guarantee equal representation.
Public perception of male models (MANdels, if you wil) is not one of admiration. When I typed into Google ‘are male models…’ the first four suggestions were; attractive, stupid, insecure, photoshopped? Are male models seen as stupid or is that just par for the course? Should we feel sorry for those who fall under scrutiny? Articles such as: ‘Why no one should ever date a male model’, ‘Does every male model have to be a dumb blonde,’ and ‘I’d rather date a tree than a male model’ show a comical attitude towards Fashion’s pretty boys. Sigh. Apart from Elite Daily ruining my Dendrophile fantasies (clearly joking), most of us assume male models are stupid, narcissistic, have substance abuse problems and, though I never really understood the correlation, are blessed with huge… Christmas stockings #jiggleballs.
Shouldn’t we have the same attitude of acceptance as we do females who model, or at least try to? The problem of objectification goes both ways with the only difference in this case being the power of capitalism. Truth is no one wants to buy a magazine with a half naked man on the cover unless he is a celebrity, sportsman or has an alternative lifestyle (tattoo artists/piercers, biker or seen as a novelty etc). Objectification, like most judgments, begins with perception.
Man and the body
Do the names Adonis, Narcissuses or Dorian Grey ring any bells? Adonis was the personification of masculine beauty and Aphrodite’s lover in Greek mythology. Narcissuses was so enamoured by his own appearance he stood staring at a pool of water until he died. The Picture of Dorian Gray was written by Oscar Wilde about a man who sold his soul for eternal youth. Those analogies paint a picture of a certain demographic, don’t they? We’ve all become accustom to certain male bodies – the David Beckham’s, Tyson Beckford’s, Zac Effron’s; hell even Jonah Hill (pre weight-loss) has a place in Hollywood.
Have you seen a plus-size male model before? He’s full figured, goes to the gym, eats right, has a healthy relationship with food and alcohol but is no Marc Jacobs or Tom Ford.
The US retailer Target broke new ground by becoming the first to promote their male plus-size model – Zach Miko. Miko stands at 6’6” and wears XXL. In the spirit of inclusivity Target also advertises wedding registries for gay couples and has successfully launched shape diversity swimwear campaigns. As Gok would say, you go Tarjay!
Zach told People magazine, “My main message to people is; ‘Why not now? Why can’t you feel attractive the way you are right now? […] It’s great to be more fit, more healthy, more active, but that doesn’t mean who you are right now is invalid, or that who you are right now isn’t an attractive person. We need to keep seeing bigger, smaller. We need to see every body type. We need to see that every type of person is beautiful.” Mmmhm. Agreed!
Equal Pay Everyday
On the 27th of October 2015 we celebrated (or should I say spent) Equal Pay Day in Australia. Did you know in Australia women are paid 18.6% LESS than men! According to PedestrianTV.com this means women are only paid 81.4% of the year. Okay, brace yourselves because I’m going to say something very true but also very controversial. The only industries, generally speaking (I’m not talking about obscure, niche jobs) where women are paid more than men are prostitution/stripping and modelling. Though there is absolutely no link between the two that is definitely kitchen table talk for later.
I’m proud to say All My Friends Are Models are equal opportunists. We actively support issues of inequality and work hard to break damaging stereotypes of what beauty is and how it should appear. Team work makes the dream work! (Yes that was a shameless work plug.)
I digress… Let’s talk about modelling income. American model Sean O’Pry (he was in Taylor Swift’s Blank Space music video) is a top earner at 1.5 million annually, according to Fortune Magazine. Miranda Kerr earned more than double at $7 million. Shout-out to Aussie babe Miranda Kerr. What makes models like Miranda Kerr worth more than Sean O’Pry – besides having to earn your keep. I have a feeling it has more to do with sellablity than anything else. Women earn 148% more than men in modelling, according to Payscale.com. While men will probably never be on the same salary as women in this industry, there are definitely changes in the air. The launch of Men’s New York Fashion Week has been seen by editors, buyers and designers as a cataylst for much needed change.
The future of the fashionable man
This is no longer a man’s world. Women are wearing the Tom Ford pants and Dior shirt with the Chanel loafers. Outside of office hours, men who model should not to be defined by physical appearance alone. I know it sounds like the pot calling the kettle black but everyone – no matter what you do and how you do it – should have a right to equal pay, representation and acceptance across the board regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation and personal preference. We need to believe this is a concept worth fighting for.
So a toast to men who model. May you continue to do what you do, stride how you stride, wear what you wear and never be afraid to be fashionable at any age, in any size. Who doesn’t love staring at cheekbones you could grate brie on. Wine anyone?