Growing up, Ryan Dziadul didn’t feel good about his stocky frame.
“I remember … crying in the Sears fitting room because I didn’t like the choices in my size,” says the 35-year-old Manhattan publicist.
While he still has a similar body type, these days he’s proud of how he looks, and he loves posing in preppy Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers and Tommy Hilfiger duds on his Instagram account @extraextrastyle. He has more than 3,500 followers, some of whom have thanked him for showing that men who look like him can be chic and confident.
“It’s resonated with people,” he says.
For years, women have embraced “body positivity” — accepting and proudly displaying one’s figure, even if it differs dramatically from the skinny ideal — and now men are, too. Many are taking to social media to show that they take pride in their size, despite society’s standards, and even the high-fashion world is following along.
“The message is ‘everyone deserves to love themselves, feel great and express themselves through style,’” says Troy Solomon, 27, a husky fashion Instagrammer based in Los Angeles with over 31,900 followers.
Fellow Instagrammer Kelvin Davis, 29, agrees.
“[Male body positivity has] brought light on the fact men have emotions, care about the way they look and want to feel a sense of self-worth,” says Davis, a South Carolina art teacher who describes himself as short and stocky and runs the account @notoriouslydapper, which has over 58,800 followers.
As the momentum builds among body-positive men, brands have taken notice and are using it for more-inclusive marketing.
Davis is one year into a two-year modeling contract with Chubbies, a startup that sells shorts and uses real customers with real bodies as its models in professional shoots. Davis is paid for modeling, as well as for some sponsored posts on Instagram, though he declines to say how much.
Fashion’s major players are also jumping in the big men’s game. In February, Dolce & Gabbana held a runway show in Milan featuring 140 men and women of all shapes, ages and colors. In 2016, IMG launched Brawn, a plus-sized male division. Their first model to sign on was Zach Miko — a body-positive figure with 62,300 Instagram followers.
New York Fashion Week creator Fern Mallis says it was a smart move.
“Social media is the engine of society right now,” Mallis says. “[IMG Models President] Ivan Bart is really seeing that this is what’s going on in the world, and why shouldn’t we be reflecting that on the runway?”