'It's time for plus-size Ken': Male body-positive blogger aims to help men accept their 'man boobs’ and belly rolls
Stevie Grice-Hart from Southampton in Hampshire has said that he hopes his 'warts and all' will help others like him realize that it's not just women who have issues with how their bodies look
Twenty six-year-old Stevie Grice-Hart is sick of the ripped bodies being passed off as the ideal one in these reality TV obsessed times, and has decided to promote body positivity among men by showing off his flawed body "warts and all"
Stevie, a financial adviser and avid blogger, shares candid photographs of his ever-changing weight on Instagram so that he can be a body-positivity role model for men. Hailing from Southampton in Hampshire, Grice-Hart said that he hopes his "warts and all" images of his "man boobs" and muffin top will help others like him realize that it's not just women who have issues with how their bodies look.
The young man regularly switches between sizes medium and XXL and he looked to Instagram in the beginning for some fitness inspiration.
That's when he came across a female plus-size model who gave him enough of a push with her honest approach to her body. Stevie then made the decision to go to the gym regularly and diet in a way that emulated her. He also took to social media to document the highs and lows of weight loss, reported the Daily Mail.
Stevie said how nobody on TV now represents him and that there are only "ripped" men. He also said that he wants to make a change in society. He said: "We have plus size Barbie - now it's time for a plus-size Ken."
With all the support from 26-year-old Sam, his store manager husband, Stevie is now sharing all his experiences on social media and talking openly about his toxic relationship with food and body image.
He said: "I've grown up always being a larger kid and feeling like no one else looked like me. I looked for validation on TV and tried to find people who represented me, but there was no one, which made me feel even worse. All I saw was ripped men and, after that, I spent the majority of my life dieting and exercising."
"After years and years, I did lose a lot of weight between the ages of 22 and 24. I forced myself to go the gym every day - obsessed that if I didn't, I'd become obese overnight. I had three meal replacement shakes instead of actual meals, even ordering and gorging on weight loss tablets. I thought by doing that, I'd be popular and successful, but neither of those things happened, I just went from 18-and-a-half stone to 10 stone and was left with excess skin and stretch marks."
The day that he came across the Instagram account of the female plus-size model, he changed his view of himself completely. Stevie said: "By chance, I found a girl who was about a size 16. She was in a bikini and had belly rolls and a huge smile. I realised I should be like her and start living my life. I decided to do the same and post a video of myself in my underwear, discussing men's body image; although it was scary since it's something that no-one really does. It was really liberating."
Since then he has made multiple videos on body positivity, and Stevie says this has made many other Instagram users pay attention to him.
They all think that men's body dysmorphia, a mental health condition that leaves people obsessing about the flaws with their body, should be considered a serious issue. The financial advisor was also left feeling ecstatic after his fan base grew to include gay men like himself and heterosexual fathers.
He said: "I like to think that I'm helping to start something new for men and their body confidence. It's usually hidden for us. I want to create a space for men to talk openly about it. The most humbling thing from my page has been hearing young boys aged just 11 and grown men in their 60s say I helped them to improve their body confidence. Even super masculine, bearded, tattooed men who look like truck drivers thanked me for what I do!"
Even though Stevie has received encouraging feedback from his fans for his out-there posts, there have been a number of vicious comments from people who plain disagree with what he says. He explained: "Some people say I should change the way I look and stop being lazy, but they are clearly so deep in diet culture that they think what they're saying is right."
"I did the same when I hated myself too - I would comment on how other people looked to make myself feel better, just to deflect the pain onto someone else. I do remove the negative comments, but some stay with me, such as someone who said 'if I had a body like that I'd kill myself'."
Stevie and Sam are currently in the middle of a long process to adopt a child and the excited father-to-be has made it clear that their child, whether boy or girl, will not be worried about body image issues. He said: "'If we have a boy, I want him to see that men and being a man comes in all different forms. I would give my child the freedom and space to be whoever they want and I'd like to hope that when I feel crap about my body, I don't project that onto my son."
Stevie continued: "No matter what gender we have, boy or girl or trans - whoever they identify as - I would embrace them for all that they are and let them do what they want within reason and safety."
Even though Stevie believes that social media can be used as a vessel to promote body positivity, he feels that the current reality TV situation is not adequate enough when it comes to the matter of diversity regarding body shape and size.
He said: "Reality TV is horrendous, everyone on it looks exactly the same and all it does is reinforce the idea that if you don't have abs there is something 'wrong' with your body. The problem with modern TV is that it doesn't represent how people really look. Young boys are exposed to this even more than I was in the 90s - it's worrying."
"For the men who are struggling, I would recommend following people who actually look different - stay away from the Hollywood actors who have airbrushed and edited photos. That's why I don't edit my photos - I don't want to contribute to that side of social media."
The young man hopes that men in the future will be able to find all the support they deserve for any body issues they may have, in exactly the same way that is made available to women.