Kit Steinkellner
October 11, 2015 9:46 am

We, as a culture, are in the middle of a big conversation about size inclusivity. The thing is, this conversation has been focused primarily on women. Which makes sense, women’s appearances for too long have been viewed as being synonymous with their worth, and women clearly have the most to gain from the body positivity movement. That said, men need size inclusivity too, as they are absolutely also affected by aesthetic standards.

That’s why today we’re celebrating Zach Miko, Target’s first (and, so far, only) “big and tall” male model, who, at 6 feet 6 inches, with a 40 inch waist, is the only male model representing alternative sizes on Target’s site.

“I never understood why looking at big and tall clothing, they show me these Abercrombie & Fitch-style, really cut, really fit guys,” the 26-year-old male model told People. “These guys aren’t buying XXL tall T-shirts, these guys aren’t buying 42-inch pants, but they’re the guys you see modeling it.”

As Miko told Mic, the first day of his shoot he had an experience that really drove home just how important it is to be representing his size.

“The first day [of the shoot], they were supposed to send XL tall shirts, and every shirt they sent was a medium regular, which I cannot fit into under any stretch of the imagination,” he explained. “They had to cut every single shirt and open it up like a hospital gown.”

Of course, this incident reinforced a feeling Miko is most familiar with.

“You’re never confronted with how big you are until you find something that doesn’t go on your big-ass body,” Miko told Mic.

In the past, as Miko told the Huffington Post, he had basically sworn off shopping, because the experience just stressed him out too much:

“I didn’t shop. I wore the same clothes for over a decade at a time until they basically fell off of me. Shopping for clothing was terrifying and embarrassing. You get a sick feeling walking into the ‘trendy’ stores knowing for a fact that there is nothing to fit you. So I just didn’t shop. My wife made a comment this summer when I was wearing a baggy pair of shorts, about how old and out of date they were. Then she saw a picture of 15-year-old me from high school, wearing those exact same shorts.”

But, as he very sweetly told Mic, the experience of modeling for Target has been “…the first time I ever put on clothes that made me feel good about myself.”

Miko told the Huffington Post that he believes that men being able to feel confident in their own bodies goes hand in hand with men being able to support women feeling confident in their own bodies.

“As a man in America, you are raised with this idea of macho masculinity,” Miko said. “What’s most important to a guy is confidence. Confidence is an amazing thing, but the way that this specific masculine confidence is stressed, guys are brought up believing that being unconfident or having insecurity is considered weakness. Men become ashamed of how they feel about themselves so they hide it, they never speak of it. This isn’t fair to themselves. And it’s not fair to women either. Because when these insecurities are internalized so deeply, men project these ideas on to women.”

Miko is well-aware that men’s fashion have taken a smidge longer than women’s to catch up with size inclusivity, but he’s glad that progress is finally being made, and that he gets to be a part of it.

“With everything that’s been going on with women’s fashion and body inclusivity and self-image, it’s interesting that male brands have [just started] stepping up to do the same thing,” Miko told People. “It’s fun to be on the precipice of that.”

We’re all in the body positivity movement together, and we are so glad that Miko is blazing the size inclusivity trail for men. With hope, all the wonderful press he’s been getting will encourage Target (and other brands) to hire more models like Miko.

Related:

We’re seriously stoked for Target’s new plus-size line

Image via Target

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