I have a piece up at Good Men Project today, looking at the new Man as Object exhibit at SOMARTS San Francisco. It’s an exciting initiative. We May Be Hotter than We Know looks at this exhibit. An excerpt:
Among many other things, I work as a director of a modeling and management agency, Natural Models LA. We represent female models across a broad spectrum of size, from 2 to 20, though most of the women whom we’ve signed are between 12-16. The plus-size modeling business has been around for 35 years, and is both increasingly lucrative and increasingly influential within the broader beauty industry. Though it’s taken a long time, and we still have a long way to go, we’ve succeeded in creating at least some “counter-images” in the media, images that remind us that female beauty is not just found in one size or shape. The co-founder and CEO of our agency, Katie Halchishick, was recently featured in this now-iconic shot in O Magazine. Though in many ways things are “worse” for women, we are slowly getting the chance to see female bodies that deviate from the narrow ideal but which are, nonetheless, stunningly beautiful.
But we’re not “there yet” with men. There is no equivalent “plus-size” division for men. (The few fashion editorials that have featured “larger” men have used amateurs, not professional male plus-size models, who don’t really exist yet.) While agencies like ours work hard to expand the spectrum of what is considered beautiful for women, young men are reminded that if they want to be “hot,” they have little choice but to pursue a single “ripped” ideal.
Of course, we know that not every woman is attracted to young hairless men with six-packs. We also know—even many young men know—that women can be attracted to boyfriends and husbands who have soft tummies or scrawny arms. But we tend to represent that attraction as rooted in romantic connection. In other words, if a woman is turned on by her husband’s concave chest, it’s because she’s so in love with him that even his flaws become virtues. Love is blind, we say, and point to the imperfect bodies of well-loved men to prove it.