The men’s fashion expert discusses why changing the conversation about men’s bodies will combat toxic masculinity and build confidence.
Have you received any criticism as an outspoken advocate for men’s body positivity, and if so how do you keep it from getting you down?
Yes, I have received criticism from numerous people. I try to understand that everyone has a right to their opinion, even if you didn’t ask to hear it. It doesn’t bother me as much as it used to, and in fact, nowadays I take it as a compliment. If people aren’t hating on what you’re doing, then is what you’re doing even pushing the envelope? Plus, I focus on the people and the community that supports me. Their support and love will always mean more to me, and that’s what keeps me focused.
How do you think the body empowerment movement can help combat toxic masculinity?
It can combat toxic masculinity by encouraging men to speak about their bodies, which will allow them to be more vulnerable about other topics. I’ve found that men who can speak about body image — good or bad — are more likely to be more open about other topics. The biggest thing about toxic masculinity is the idea that men don’t talk about their emotions. A lot of them suffer in silence about depression, mental issues, body image, and more. The body empowerment movement offers the tools to allow men to speak up and no longer suffer in silence, which will combat toxic masculinity effectively and produce better fathers, brother, uncles, sons, and friends.
You’ve spoken about your experience with bullying. How did you reach the turning point where you decided to shut out the noise and embrace your authentic self?
Luckily for me, I have parents that raised me to be very mentally strong. So as much as the body shaming would get to me, I always knew that I was still the best-dressed guy in the room. In college, I got a lot of acceptance for who I was, which helped my confidence in many ways. I wasn’t the skinniest or fittest guy, but I was funny, talented, polite, and I dressed well.
Your style is amazing! What role has fashion played in building your body confidence?
Fashion has played the biggest part!! It helped me feel confident at moments when I didn’t otherwise. My style was, and still is, my safe haven — I know that I will always be the best-dressed guy in the room wherever I go. I always viewed clothing and fashion as artistic expression. To me, our bodies are blank canvas, and clothing is our medium of choice. Whether it be pants, shorts, blazers, shoes, or accessories, each item adds to our own visual masterpiece, and changes the way we feel. Fashion has always made me feel good. Without it, I don’t know how I would have found my confidence in my body and myself.
What has been the most rewarding part of being an influencer in the body empowerment space?
The most rewarding part is helping other people see the potential in themselves. Because body empowerment leads to overall self-confidence, it helps you succeed more in every aspect of life. You take more risks and live life to the fullest. You take on that job interview, ask that person out, and do things that are normally outside of your comfort zone, because you have new-found confidence to do so. Getting messages from men and women telling me how much my personal journey has inspired them to love themselves and take the steps to start loving their own body is so gratifying. It lets me know that my platform is helping a lot of people, and that’s what matters most to me.