Zach Miko Is The Plus-Size Male Model Encouraging Men To Embrace And Support Body Love
With the growing awareness and positive reception of society's many body love movements for women, one has to wonder—how are men doing with the same issue? Enter Zach Miko, the very first "brawn" model signed by international modeling agency IMG, and the man willing to take on the challenge of showing men that they, too, can be part of the movement.
The 29-year-old's mission is clear to him: to show men that they can acknowledge their struggles stemming from societal pressures, to adhere to the stereotypical image of an "ideal" man, all through leading by example. After all, at 6'6'" and with a hefty physique like his, Zach was once his own worst critic and knows just how difficult it is to learn to love—let alone accept—the body one was given.
For years, he wallowed in self-consciousness and self-doubt. He was constantly upset by exceeding XL or even XXL-sized clothing in majority of men's fashion boutiques, insecure about weighing 200-plus pounds, and certainly never dared dream of ever considering himself handsome.
Just like his female counterparts hurt by the exposure to unattainable standards of beauty in countless ways, Zach almost never found confidence in the way he looked, until a serendipitous arrangement made its way to him.
The thing is, despite Zach being unhappy about his looks before, he found a way to cope with the negativity through humor. His stage presence and comedic timing had potential, so he tried his luck by auditioning for a handful of projects. Unfortunately, his size was yet another obstacle in making his small screen dreams come true and was never booked for major roles.
All hope seemed to be lost until his acting manager's friend mentioned that Target was in need of a male model for its plus-size collections. Zach was perfect.
It was the very first time he was introduced to apparel made especially for men like him—brawny men who wanted to dress well and experiment with fashion. With every piece of clothing that he put on and complemented his physique, Zach felt a light in him get brighter and brighter.
Slowly but surely, he made the life-changing realization that it wasn't him and his body that were the problem—both had been absolutely problem-free this whole time. It was the options made available for men with his body type that was, along with the bombarding of men with unrealistic images of masculinity and attractiveness, and the misconception that body image issues only affect women.
Looking back at his past from the perspective of a postive present and future, Zach now knows that his burgeoning modeling career is not just for personal gratification. On his shoulders now rests the responsibility of encouraging men to embrace themselves for their tallness, wideness, brawniness, and everything in-between, proving that the "perfect" man doesn't exist in just a single body type.
“The whole idea behind it (body positivity) is that who you are right now in this moment is valid, beautiful, and
wonderful," he shares.
The loving husband adds, "The whole idea of body positivity is learning to love the body you have right now. It doesn’t mean you’re not in a journey, and it doesn’t mean if you want to lose weight, you can’t lose weight at all. It just means your body is doing a lot of amazing things for you. It takes you everywhere in this world and it’s worth celebrating, in any size and any shape.”
The impact of these words that come from a man with real-life experiences of body image issues is immeasurable. Since Zach's modeling career was established three years ago, his influence has grown and he's verbalized that he hopes to do for men what plus-size model Ashley Graham has done for women the world over.
In fact, Zach's work has become so impactful that department store SM has already done work with him. Zach visited Manila two years ago for a photo shoot for its men's plus-size section, SM Men Plus, that offers 1XL to 5XL clothing options, and this year, he returned for a second shoot for the brand and enjoyed himself yet again.
He even jokes, “There was one red stripe shirt that I already asked for. Let’s see if I can sneak it at the end of the shoot.”
Zach, now a successful model and emerging podcaster (his show is called Big Things with Zach Miko), makes sure he uses his newfound leadership position to advance his advocacy. He's always willing to go in-depth about the importance of body love and positivity in men, but is more than happy to share fashion takeaways for the guys, too:
- First, forget what the size tag says. Don't let the numbers or letters bring you down. If you have to move up to a double XL from a single XL, by all means, go for it if it means getting a better fit.
- In relation to that, don't ever settle for a smaller size if it really doesn't work for you! Tighter clothes will even make you look bigger, which defeats the purpose of purchasing clothes meant to make you look amazing.
- It's true that looking good contributes a lot to you feeling good, but the real attractiveness shows when you're confident and happy in your own skin. Clothes and all other outward things will simply complement what comes from inside.
At the end of the day, Zach can be sure to find admirers of his work and supporters in us!
Photos courtesy of SM