Zach Miko made headlines in March when he became the first plus-size male model to be signed to a large agency — IMG, the home of models like Gigi Hadid and Lara Stone.
"I think men want to see a normal-looking guy modeling their clothes," he told The Guardian after being signed. He is a normal guy; tall with a 42-inch waist, Miko probably wouldn't get a second look in most parts of America.
Well, I take that back — he's got that whole Brawny man thing going on, so of course he'd get noticed. But other than that, he's not outside the realm of normal, unless that normal is the fashion world.
By all accounts, Miko is lovely and charming in interviews. It also seems like he understands his privilege in the modeling world. His recent Target campaign went largely unnoticed until his signing with IMG.
"I think it made a splash because Target is a big retailer. But they just put me in the shoot with classically sized male models, so all the fashion blogs were like, did Target sneak a plus-size guy into their site?" he told The Guardian, adding that it probably would've been a lot more noticeable if it was a plus-sized woman.
He'd probably get a whole lot more crap if he were a woman, too. Models like Tess Holliday and Ashley Graham are constantly on the receiving end of horrific comments and concern trolling via their social media accounts. The pregnant Holliday even had to post a response to comments about her weight and how she's putting her unborn child in danger just by living.
Having another baby has been a beautiful process & at times, frustrating. As I enter my 8th month, my body overall looks the same other than my belly & I'm okay with that. What I've had to be learn to be okay with (WHICH IS NOT COOL) is the fact that people still think it's okay to comment on my body: "you don't look pregnant", "you must be have quadruplets", "you are putting your baby at risk" & a slew of other uneducated statements that are very far from my reality. When "celebrities" are pregnant in the press, they look glamorous, toned & are eager to talk about how they are going to get the baby weight off. While I've done my best to look as put together as possible, that's not real life, & it's not for most women. I'm not the first plus size woman in the public eye to have a baby & share it with the world, & I certainly won't be the last. However I'm part of a small minority that's telling you it's okay to not have a perfect baby bump, or not show at all, to be plus size & have a healthy child, & most importantly to find a care provider that doesn't shame you about your size. It's also okay to tell someone to fuck off when they give you unsolicited advice about what's "best" for you & your baby. As women, we know what's best & that's our business.. No one else's. #effyourbeautystandards #theresnowrongwaytobeawoman #32weeks #babyhollidayontheway
Honestly, take a look at any of their recent posts and you're likely to see some pretty gross comments.
Contrast that with Miko's comments, and you'll see something quite different. His comments have zero to do with his size and everything to do with his sex appeal.
"You are so sexy!" "He's literally perfect." "He's mine." And so on… and so on.
Don't get me wrong, he's gorgeous, but the fact that he's allowed to exist without constant comments about his health — no one is asking if he's going to lose weight — is a slap in the face not only to fellow plus models but to women in general.
Is it his fault? Nope… it's ours. We, as a whole, continue to allow women to be considered "less than" because of body size, because of looks, because of physical attributes that we don't necessarily have control over.
Can we ever get to the point where everyone is accepted for who they are? I'd love that, but I also live in the real world, where people will always have something to say. What I hope is that we get to the point where it's not about labels but about the person.
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