The conversation is getting louder when it comes to male body positivity, and frankly, it’s about time. Society seems to have unintentionally excluded the fact that women aren't the only ones who feel the pressure to be the perfect size, type, ethnicity and age - men do too. We’re here to break down that pressure and strip it back – literally! It's time to celebrate the raw, the real and the wonderful bodies men have.Through-out the past decade the body positivity movement has ignited a flurry of conversation within print and digital media, but majority of the hype has been focused on a woman’s perspective. Companies have begun to embrace a more human-like approach to marketing by using real women and real bodies - a drastic shift from the supermodel figures of past decades.
Body positivity is a movement that’s centered around embracing bodies in all forms, rather than focusing on one particular body type. The movement is vital in marketing to appeal to audience’s seeking authenticity and connection in the brands they follow- and that movement is growing for men.
At Jacob Lund, we wanted to answer the gap that existed in imagery that celebrated male body positivity, with a collection featuring real men, celebrating real bodies. As our clients know, we have long been proponents of inclusivity and diversity when it comes to visual advertising.
Our latest collection, “Body Positive Men” photographed by our talented in-house photographer, Courtney Gretchen, is a collection created for our clients to start being part of the conversation. “After our body positivity shoot with women, various people asked us if we had shot men in this way before or if we’d shoot this campaign with men”, said Gretchen. This question sparked an idea, and lead to the production of one of our latest photo series which is a start to the conversation about male body positivity and inclusivity that’s long overdue.
Why Fuelling the Conversation for the Body Positivity Movement for Men is ImportantFor men, language like “Dad bods” “beer belly” and “scrawny” have been largely used and accepted as ways to distinguish certain body types. This perspective can lead men to feel alienated when it comes to recognizing themselves in ads and marketing - something that we know is important in order to establish a relationship with a brand. We’ve all but abolished using derogatory terms and language like this for women in advertising, yet we continue to use mock-language towards men. And we’re here to say enough is enough. It’s time for us to step it up and create imagery that celebrates real men.
When asked about her inspiration for this collection of stock images, Gretchen said "it stemmed from when I saw the very un-retouched photograph of Will Smith on Instagram baring it all by choice, rather than having body shaming paparazzi pictures come out first. He heightened the conversation about being in the worst shape of his life on social media - that it was time to let men feel more positive about the body they were in. That’s what inspired this collection. To give men the feeling of being confident, knowing that rock hard abs is not a requirement for powerful advertising”. The result is a collection of four jubilant male men celebrating confidence and acceptance with their bodies - proudly expressing themselves as they are.
Shifting the Perspective on What Male Bodies Should Look LikeSince the dawn of advertising, there has been little variation in how we market to men. Fit, muscular, and tall has always been in - there hasn’t been much diversity to how we visualize the ideal man in advertising. From Old Spice’s “the man your man could smell like” to Marky Mark’s underwear-clad ads of the 90s, muscular men have largely been the sole focus of advertising to real men. It’s easy for brands to follow this pattern - there’s a precedent set where muscles sell, and there’s a lot of unknown on how real bodies would do in comparison.
It’s a risk that until now, many brands avoided for fear of alienating their target audience. But as the world shifts to a more organic and thoughtful approach to realistic advertising, positive body imagery is rising and thus - men are looking for themselves rather than superhero-like bodies more and more in ads. Instead of seeking perfection in body types and shapes, we’re seeking connection.
Selecting the Models for the "Body Positive Men" Collection of Images“My goal was to make sure the cast knew they were chosen for a specific reason. It’s okay to be soft bodied, it’s okay to feel out of shape - you just need to be happy and comfortable in the body that brought them this far in life”, said Gretchen when it came to casting this shoot. “Our scouting process was to find everyday people who could have the most authentic look in our images”. As always, at Jacob Lund our first goal is to create a shoot environment that is collaborative, and celebrates all the people involved in the images. A good set leads to good images, and that’s what we created for this shoot.
“Growing up in the 90s, it was always the Calvin Klein underwear models shown everywhere. Muscled and airbrushed to perfection. It was brainwashed that this is what a man should look like - if you didn’t you weren’t accepted”, says Gavin, one of the models on set. “Having male body positivity shown and talked about helps men realize that it’s okay and acceptable to just be normal. Airbrushed models are not what the real, average man looks like. There’s love in all men, in all shapes and sizes”.