By Myra AliJuly 8, 2021
From plus size to silver fox, the accepted ideal of male beauty is constantly changing. Myra Ali explores the world of the truly beautiful.
What makes a handsome or pretty man? In recent decades, the most famous icons of Western male beauty have been relatively few: blue-eyed screen stars like Brad Pitt or Leonardo DiCaprio come to mind. But the notion of what the “perfect” man looks like is evolving as the worlds of film and fashion become more diverse and the importance of representation by global brands is understood.
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Throughout the world, the idealized pattern of the sculpted male form rarely reflects the average male body. However, social media apps like TikTok are helping to change the standards of male beauty by showcasing men who previously had no platform. British model, body positive activist and TikTok starbenjamesit changes the way we see taller men. In 2019, she participated in an advertising campaign for the clothing brand Simply Be as a plus-size model, she appeared alongside other models and has already worked with Ted Baker and Asos. James told BBC Cuture that his work "gives boys and men comfort and confidence, tells them they are wanted and worthy."
The stereotypical masculine aesthetic is no longer ideal for younger people. Gen Z Androgyny Champion: Alexander Edmonds
While plus-size female stars like Lizzo and model Ashley Graham are widely celebrated, their male counterparts are less prominent. Recently, however, Rihanna's lingerie brand Savage Fenty has helped normalize and give larger men a platform. Is that a sign of a growing democratization of male beauty? As Ben James says: "Would I love to see the industry improve by using different body shapes in a way that has never been seen on film before?" The focus must shift from those unnatural body shapes that even the actors themselves cannot maintain.
K-pop band BTS embodies a new, softer version of the masculine beauty popular with Generation Z (Credit: Getty Images)
Alexander Edmonds, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh, told BBC Culture: "Because of the legacy of slavery and [Western] colonialism, images of the handsome man have always been very white and historically there have been fewer barriers to the change, but that could happen now." Black supermodels like Tyson Beckford and Alton Mason regularly grace the covers of GQ and other magazines and thethe world of fashiongraduallymore diverse, perhaps in part because global social changes like the Black Lives Matter movement have led brands to recognize the need for diversity.
"Aesthetics and stereotypical male behaviors are changing," says Edmonds. "They are no longer the ideal for the youngest androgyny champion of Gen Z. This is happening a lot in East Asia, especially in South Korean pop culture." This type of beauty would be considered unorthodox by traditional Western standards, but today it is commonplace and heavily influenced by mainstream media.
American supermodel Tyson Beckford was the face of Ralph Lauren (Credit: Alamy)
And as with all ethnic groups, East Asian beauty ideals are diverse. North Korean model Dae Na says, "When I started there were a handful of Asian models, but now you see a lot. It grew exponentially as the industry turned to more Asian buyers or [the] Asian market." With a large population of high-end individuals purchasing power in Asia, brands are looking to make models like Dae the face of their campaigns to connect with consumers.
And male supermodels seem to be catching up with their female counterparts and gaining power in recent years. American model Tyson Beckford was recruited by Ralph Lauren to be the face of the brand and has since become the most famous black male supermodel of all time. Model Sean O'Pry, on the other hand, has built a career spanning over 15 years that makes him one of the richest male supermodels in the world. Born in a small town in Georgia, USA, he moved to New York at the age of 17 with only $150 in his pocket and landed exclusive deals with big brands.
O'Pry first rose to fame on the world stage when he was cast by Taylor Swift to play her love interest in her 2014 video "Blank Space." "It's the most iconic moment of my career," O'Pry told BBC Culture. "My career took a different direction after that. It opened more doors for me. I'm so grateful to be a part of this." Having graced countless magazine covers over the years, he has maintained a high profile. how he did it “You have to be humble in the industry. I compete against people who are all from the same cast: dark hair, blue eyes. I compete against guys who look exactly like me, and you have to be able to separate yourself, that's part of who you are. You are on set and how you behave and present. I wasn't trying to make my face look a certain way. This job fell into my lap.
Actor Michele Morrone played a mob boss in the movie 365 Days (Credit: Getty Images)
And the conventional notion of the "tall, dark and handsome" Mediterranean type remains relevant despite increasing diversity. The phrase was used in Europe at the turn of the 20th century and was widely used in Hollywood in the 1920s to describe the Italian star Rodolfo Valentino. It has remained a commonly used idiom, although the exact meaning and implication of "tall, dark and handsomeIt will now be examined and discussed in more detail. Anthropologist Shafee Hassan told BBC Culture: "Mediterranean men have a huge advantage in having dark eyebrows and dark facial hair. You can grow a full beard... dark hair is associated with masculinity." Italian actor Michele Morrone is pretty By those standards. The native of Puglia, in southern Italy, worked as a gardener in Rome until last year and auditioned for acting roles. His life changed overnight when he was cast to star in the Netflix movie 365 Days, becoming one of them.most watched movies on the platform in 2020. He plays latent mafia boss Massimo, a fantasy figure to many of his fans.
Morrone told BBC Culture: "I can't deny that my looks helped me get the part because I match Massimo's features perfectly; he's tall and has brown hair. But if they cast another actor, would it be the same? appearance, but if you can't dance..." According to Morrone, he initially found it difficult to get acting work because of his appearance. "It's very difficult for a handsome man to get a job as a serious actor because people think that as an actor you shouldn't look that good. I don't know why they have this concept. I had a casting every week for 10 years, I didn't do the parts."
Ron Jack Foley is among the many older male models increasingly visible in fashion and on social media (Credit: Twitter/ @RJackFoley)
Yet despite the continued success of the traditionally handsome, the standard of male beauty is breaking through.older modelsit enjoyed a significant rise in popularity. Of course, we're used to traditional "silver foxes" like Pierce Brosnan and George Clooney gracing our screens, but older male models are now frequently used in ad campaigns and on the runway, including Anthony Varrecchia, Wang Deshun (who became known as "China's Sexiest Grandpa"), Ron Jack Foley and Lono Brasil. Model René Glémarec, 87, and his wife Marie-Louise, 86, appeared at Paris Fashion Week wearing neutral dresses designed by his grandson Florentin Glémarec.
the male modelorlando hobechirecently told The Guardian: "About four years ago I noticed an increase in the use of older models. Suddenly there was an interest in the stories of older people." According to Hobechi, a longer life made all the difference. "Age isn't what it used to be. For the last 30 years, we've seen great young people age: you can be older now and still be great and relevant... People want to see people who look like them."
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