five plus-size male models on fashion as self-love

Runway representation is only half the story – for these five models, fashion is a radical act of self-love

Hero image in post
photo: Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images
Hero image in post
photo: Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images

Runway representation is only half the story – for these five models, fashion is a radical act of self-love

By Sophie Lou Wilson11 Jul 2023
7 mins read time
7 mins read time

Fashion helped push me out of my comfort zone,” says plus-size male model James Corbin who has modelled for S.S. Daley, Tommy Hilfiger, London College of Fashion, and more. “The more you push yourself, the more you're like, ‘oh wow, I actually look good wearing this thing I thought I shouldn't wear.’ Taking that step to show your body and be proud of your body through fashion is such a good medium for self-love.

In short, the right outfit can make you feel good. Putting on your favourite jacket or buttoning up the shirt you love is sometimes all you need to feel like the best version of yourself. Far from being superficial, fashion can be a radical act of self-love and acceptance, especially if the fashion industry at large doesn’t always represent people who look like you.

Of 72 SS24 menswear shows across Milan and Paris, only six featured plus-size models, which is fewer than last season. Conversations about size inclusivity often focus on women, but plus-size male models are even less represented by luxury and high street fashion alike. However, fashion exists far beyond the runway and representation today is as much about what we see on Instagram and TikTok as it is about who’s on the runway at fashion week.

Below, five plus-size male models talk to us about stepping out of their comfort zone, overcoming self-doubt and how they use fashion as the ultimate form of self-love.

James Corbin

Step out of your comfort zone

“If you’re struggling with your body image, fashion is a medium that you can use to push yourself out of your comfort zone. You can start off by wearing something you wouldn't usually wear. For me, it was a pair of shorts. In my head, showing my legs was a crime. Fashion helped push me out of my comfort zone which I’d created due to bad habits and negative thoughts. The more you push yourself, you're like, oh wow, I actually look good wearing this thing I thought I shouldn't wear. Taking that step to show your body and be proud of your body through fashion is such a good medium for self-love.”

Engage in positive self-talk

“I've not always been confident in my skin. Growing up, it was hard to think that my body was desirable because I didn't see people that looked like me in magazines. It makes you feel like you need to look like someone you're not. I started a YouTube channel where I talked about struggling to wear the styles I wanted to wear because of lack of sizing. I've always wanted to have my own style and not just have to wear a baggy top and baggy trousers that had an oddly cut fit. Now I use Instagram to talk about my journey and talk very honestly about self-love because you're not going to be super confident everyday and you're not always going to be comfortable in your skin and that’s okay. As long as you're able to speak positively to yourself. Being able to share that with other people has helped me a lot.”

Steven G

Be expressive

“Ever since I was a young kid I loved fashion. The more expressive I became with fashion, the more self aware and accepting of myself I became. Self-love is following the voice that tells you to do the things that will push you to be your best self. For me, how I dress shows how I feel and what I think about myself. Elements of my outfit will always exude a love that I have for myself.”

Austin Sparkman

Self-love isn't one-size-fits-all

“Self-love doesn’t come with a one-size-fits-all prescription. We all come from varying levels of privilege, face different tribulations, and have different lived experiences. For me, it was an arduous journey. As a child, I was pressured into not liking who I am, how I looked, how I presented myself. But there comes a point — almost an epiphany — when you must block out that noise and choose yourself and what you believe you deserve. If I look good, I feel good."

Give yourself permission to dress how you feel

"I love fashion. Ergo, fashion is an expression and act of self-love. Fashion is a celebration of self and gives me the privilege to powerfully declare “this is who I am.” Fashion is the ultimate expression. I give myself permission to dress how I feel, and how I feel can change every day. That’s the thrill of fashion — it can adapt with you. Remember that comparison is the thief of joy. Dress for you and only you. There’s only one you in this world, so make your mark.”

Rasheed Yusuff

Love yourself wherever you are

“I think people should go out of their comfort zone sometimes when it comes to their personal style as they might find a new style to incorporate into their style. My personal style depends on how I feel each day. I’m a colourful person so colours are in my day to day style, but sometimes I like to go a bit outside my comfort zone and wear skirts and put some makeup on. Self-love looks like loving all your phases and not regretting any of them – big, small, inbetween."

Don't care what other people think

"I think the more you start wearing what you truly want to wear without caring if people will necessarily like it or whether they think your body type is for that style of fashion or not, you start loving your body more and more. You’ll also start realising that thinking some styles won’t suit you is a result of caring too much about what other people think. Just wear what you want and rock it. Be kind to yourself. Tell yourself you are enough. You are the shit! You can wear whatever you want! People will talk regardless, so do so without shame.”

Dexter Mayfield

Embrace gender fluidity

“For me a sense of personal style is truly an outward expression of one’s true identity, it is literally the first impression we express to the outside world of who we are as unique individuals. My personal style is not only an expression of my personality, but it is also my tribute to the power of feminine energy within my life, and uplifts the divine femme as a cis gendered male truly brings me joy with every outfit I style.”

Trust your gut

"Fashion is most definitely a physical testimony of self-love. I can truly say that my self-love journey and the evolution of my personal style through fashion are two sides of the same coin because from the first time I tried on a pair of skinny jeans on my big body my entire world changed for the better. To see my body in a whole new way unlocked something within me that I never thought was possible. You have to trust those euphoric “AAHHAA” moments when you are trying something new. When you try on a new outfit in a dressing room or at home, if a look brings you PURE JOY, that means it’s time to step into your new style."