Plus-size male model, transgender man and a vitiligo sufferer star in a new campaign to highlight that men also struggle with body image issues
- Campaign from app Manual uses ‘real men’ to break down mental health stigma
- The shoot features eight men of different backgrounds, races, shapes and sizes
- App makers hopes to tackle link between body image and male mental health
- This week is Mental Health Awareness Week with focus on body image this year
A campaign featuring one of the UK’s first plus-size male models and another with vitiligo is aiming to help men overcome body insecurities.
The campaign features Londoners of different body types and races, hopes to raise awareness around how the pressure to have a perfect body is negatively affecting men and not just women.
While campaigns from brands such as Dove and Missguided have made strides in diversifying the way women are represented in the media, there hasn’t been a campaign before celebrating different body types on men.
Manual, a men’s health and well-being website, is running the campaign to raise awareness on how misrepresentation in advertising is affecting men, and in particular their mental health.
Ben Whittaker, 26, one of the men featured in the campaign, told Femail he felt pressure to look like a a male model growing up.
Aimed and improving male mental health, the campaign features men of different body types and races, hopes to raise awareness on around the pressure to have a perfect body is negatively affecting men and not just women
‘I’m the UK’s first plus-sized male model. Growing up seeing men on social media, and seeing this “Men’s Health” body – that’s hard.’
‘Being told that all men have to look a certain way, and they have to have chiseled chests and rock hard abs, it put a strain on my mental health’ he said.
‘A lot of my mates were smaller than me and they were toned and I was the biggest in my class, I did feel depressed and think ‘am I meant to look like this?’.
Bashir Aziz, 24 who lives with Vitiligo, said that he took on the Drake song ‘You only live once’
Bashir said you just need to do what makes you happy and not waste any time doubting yourself
Ben Whittaker, 26, one of the men featured in the campaign, told Femail he felt pressure to look like a male model growing up
‘I’m the UK’s first plus-sized male model. Growing up seeing men on social media, seeing this “Men’s Health” body, being told that all men have to look a certain way, and they have to have chiseled chests and rock hard abs, it put a strain on my mental health’ Ben (pictured) said
‘But there’s no such thing as a perfect body, it doesn’t actually exist, all bodies are unique in their own ways.
‘I lost my hair at the age of 21, when I started thinning, I used to try and cover it up, pile in products.
‘Then last year I just shaved it off and thought “enough is enough” and now I feel a lot more confident than I did. I don’t always go out of the house with a hat, and to me, that’s a big thing. Also, I think the beard helps!’
Research from Manual suggests that 78 per cent of men don’t believe any of their friends look like a ‘Gillette model’ – the tanned, square-jawed, clean shaved Adonis often seen in ad campaigns.
Also featured in the campaign is Kenny Ethan Jones, 24, (pictured) who is a trans model and activist
Kenny said that going to the gym was a huge part of overcoming any insecurities he had about his body
The aim of their campaign is to include representation of the ‘ideal man’ in advertising.
Kenny Ethan Jones, 25, who features in the campaign is a trans model and activist. He said: ‘There’s also an entrepreneurial side to me.
‘I’m a Forex trader, which means I trade stocks and currencies. Going to the gym was a huge part of me overcoming any insecurities I had about my body.
Sylvester Campion, 32, who also features in the campaign had an accident when he was younger which screwed up his leg and they had to cut open his brain
‘People say you can’t wear this, you can’t look like that, but the only thing you have to do is just be you’ – Sylvester (pictured) said
‘I was skinny – I weighed about seven stone – and then I went up to ten stone. So that added weight made me feel a bit more masculine, stronger and gave me that confidence; when you feel that confidence, you radiate it out to everyone else and they feel it, too.
‘My advice to anyone is, whatever makes you feel happy and feel more confident, just do it and do more of it!
George Pallis, Co-Founder of Manual, added: ‘If you only look at the men in adverts, you would think that all men have six-packs, the perfect amount of stubble and permanently bronzed skin.
‘It is completely unrealistic and doesn’t reflect what masculinity really looks like.
Yeohan Kim, 32, one of the models in the campaign, livea in South London, but is originally from South Korea
Yeohan added: ‘My tip for maintaining good mental health is to be grateful for what you have. The way I look at it is even though I don’t have what some people would consider the “perfect body”, I’m alive, healthy and very fortunate. I’m also a firm believer in affirmations. I like to wake up in the morning and say to myself, “I look good and I’m well’
‘In a world where opening up about mental and physical well-being is arguably more crucial than ever before, it’s vital that we all work together to de-stigmatise men’s wellness and improve the health and happiness of men everywhere.’.
Sylvester Campion, 32, who also features in the campaign explained: ‘I play in a band called The Dirty Blonds.
George Pallis, Co-Founder of Manual said that if you only look at the men in adverts, is completely unrealistic and doesn’t reflect what masculinity really looks like.
Manual, a health and fitness app, who are running the campaign, aim to raise awareness on how misrepresentation is affecting men, and in particular their mental health
‘When I was a kid I had a very bad accident and that screwed up my whole leg and cut open my brain, I was in a coma and a wheelchair for a while.
‘That made me think about how I use my body and how important it is to appreciate what your body is and what it can do.
‘People say you can’t wear this, you can’t look like that, but the only thing you have to do is just be you’
James King (pictured) 28, said his relationship with his body was ‘atrocious.’ ‘I would always think about how much I hated my body and to get to where I am now, it’s been a real journey,’ he said
‘I’m still not 100% there and I even got the fear today,’ James said, ‘but I find things like this shoot push me out of my comfort zone’
James King, another of the models added: ‘My relationship with my body was atrocious.
‘I would always think about how much I hated my body and to get to where I am now, it’s been a real journey. A massive part of all this is changing your mindset.
‘It’s really easy to get stuck in a negative cycle. I’m still not 100 per cent there and I still have to regularly say to myself “stop hating your body so much!”
Jonathan Cann, 63, is also featured in the campaign promoting body positivity among men
Bashir Aziz, 24, who lives with Vitiligo, added: ‘I’m from London and I would consider myself to be a full-time artist. You know that Drake song, “You only live once.”
‘I took that on board and realised you just need to do what makes you happy and not waste any time doubting yourself. We’re not cats around here, we only live one life.
‘Back then, my mental health wasn’t great, but my body was fantastic, I just never knew.’
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