Runway diversity can be a hot button topic. This post isn’t to tear anyone down, point fingers, or accuse. Taking the time to step outside of the narrow confines of what a men’s underwear model should look like can produce a positive good in the world. This is why runway diversity in men’s underwear matters.
The model box is too small
First of all, we’re not all models. That’s okay. If we were, models wouldn’t be able to make a living, so it’s a win-win. Too often, all underwear models look the same. It can be uncomfortable to name specifics, but let’s go there. Too often, models are young, white, ultra-ripped men. In real life, young, white, ultra-ripped men are just one kind of people. There are a lot of others out there. Men of color are underrepresented, even though everyone wears underwear. Yikes, right? In real life, there are all kinds of men, ranging in size, color, and more. Queer and Trans* people don’t feature in too many ads. The models used simply don’t represent the population of trendy-underwear-owning-men, and it’s a shame. Not only is the general public missing out on great eye-candy, the lack of representation hurts people.
The growing number of eating disorders in boys
There’s an unfortunate assumption that eating disorders are illnesses that only women and girls get. It’s true that these diseases are more common in women, but they’re also possible in men. In fact, the number of eating disorders in men is going up. Obviously, this isn’t the sole fault of the lack of runway diversity, but it’s not helping. There are many ways to be healthy, fit, and attractive. Showcasing just one type is contributing to the impression that these boys and young men are receiving. We can shake that up.
Designers have an opportunity
Runway diversity is an opportunity for designers to back opinion with action. Presenting a variety of runway models is a step in the right direction for men young and old. Plus, it can be a chance to show off design skills. It’s easy to create something that looks good on ripped, thin, white, young men. Some models can make anything look effortless. This is due to talent, but also due to the fact that we look at them, not the clothes. Designers who have diversity on their platform get to show off their skills. They can work with gender non-conforming men, larger men, men with different builds, and show that their work is high quality and gorgeous every time. Embracing diversity will help push the underwear industry out of its comfort zone. When you’re living on the edge you produce better work, and more advances. This is a challenge that the underwear industry is ready for. We just have to step up to the plate.There are a lot of men out there who aren’t the classic underwear model: thin, ripped, white. Showcasing some of this through runway diversity gives designers a chance to put their money where their mouth is. They can show their skills in designing, and take a stand against eating disorders and other threats to young men.