The Guys Finally Making Body Positivity a Thing for Men

We’re finally at a point where people aren’t ashamed of their stomach rolls and are celebrating their mermaid thighs. This is true body positivity. Hashtags like #effyourbeautystandards and #allbodiesaregoodbodies are wildly popular on Instagram, and there are dozens of Facebook and YouTube pages committed to celebrating “real” bodies.

But almost every single body-positive blogger, Instagrammer, and celebrity is female. It’s true that women’s bodies have historically been subjected to more scrutiny than men’s, and that has led to long-term consequences we’re still trying to correct. But men also face pressures—to be stronger, taller, more masculine—and we need to make sure the body-positive movement fights against those too.

We’ve seen the first baby steps: Major fashion blogs like Chubstr and Notoriouly Dapper provide resources and community for men of all sizes. But compared to the size of the body-positive community for women, the representation for men just isn’t there.

The most well-known body-positive bloggers—@bodyposipanda, @plankingforpizza, @yourstruelymelly—post in a universal language. Messages like “love your chub” and “every body is beautiful” apply to women and men, after all.

Still, there’s a lot of value in seeing people who look like you tackle the same challenges you’re facing in real time. It may seem silly to connect with a random person on the other side of the internet, but that’s exactly how many people find the role models they need.

We’ve seen how successful representation can be. As the movement has grown, there have been real, tangible changes in the way society and media treats women. Aerie has sworn off retouching its advertisements, and models Ashley Graham and Iskra Lawrence walk runways and land the covers of magazines without anyone batting an eye. Actresses who aren’t super skinny—Amy Schumer and Octavia Spencer come to mind—are getting interesting, complex roles in Hollywood, and more schools and parents are teaching young girls about body image from a young age.

It’s time to do this for men too. That starts by building the community from the ground up, and luckily the process has already begun. Here are four men at the root of it all—they’re actively representing different body types for men and calling for more body diversity in the media. Eventually we’ll need more people like them, but for now, following these guys is a good start.

Zach Miko

Miko signed to IMG Models’ newly minted “brawn” division in March 2016, making him the first plus-size male model to join to a major agency. He’s seven inches taller than most other male models, and he’s got a good three or four sizes on them.

Kelvin Davis

As a fashion blogger, body-positive model, and one of the brains behind the @EffYourBeautyStandards Instagram account, Davis is a busy guy. But he believes in what he’s doing: One bad shopping trip made him pledge to never apologize for his body again, and he’s encouraging other men to do the same.

Troy Solomon

Here’s a guy who has cultivated an impressive Instagram following with his style posts and, presumably, totally relatable love of tacos. Solomon isn’t shy when it comes to talking about (or showing off) his plus-size body.

Matt Joesph Diaz

On top of having a really inspiring story, Diaz writes a lot about the importance of expanding the body-positivity community. He believes it needs to be more of a priority, and obviously, we agree.

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Chinae Alexander Proves Confidence Has Nothing to Do With Your Weight

Welcome to Behind the Confidence, a video series about the real, unfiltered journey to self-belief. We talked to four health and wellness pros who prove true confidence doesn’t stem from a “like,” nor does it magically happen overnight. It’s about finding what makes you feel good physically, mentally, and emotionally.

When lifestyle blogger Chinae Alexander embarked on a journey to get healthier, she thought she had to slim down to build up her confidence. But after losing 70 pounds, Alexander felt more critical of herself than ever. “My worth became based on what other people thought of me,” she says. Rather than drown in self-doubt, Alexander set out to regain her sense of self and take control of her confidence.

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7 Dessert Recipes With Zero Added Sugar (Seriously, Not Even Honey)

By now we know that most of the world consumes way too much sugar. But it’s not like our sweet tooth cares—when a dessert craving hits, it hits bad. Many turn to alternative ways to satisfy it, using less-refined sugars like agave, honey, and coconut sugar, but we’re going a step further this time, with treats that use no added sweeteners whatsoever. From tarts to mousse, these sugar-free recipes still manage to make dessert even sweeter.

Photo: Yuriel Kaim

This fruity treat doesn’t just come without added sugar, it also uses a simple food processor instead of a fancy ice cream maker. If that wasn’t enough, there are only two ingredients in here (neither of which involves dairy), and it takes a mere five minutes to whip up. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Photo: 52 New Foods

Want to impress guests without stressing yourself out? This apple tart should do the trick; it looks fancy, but a premade pastry crust, a simple layering pattern, and unsweetened applesauce make it super simple to put together.

Photo: Del's Cooking Twist

Chocolate cake without sugar? When puréed dates and unsweetened baking chocolate are involved, it’s possible. Mixed with eggs and coconut oil, these naturally sweet ingredients make for fudgy results that taste anything but sugar free.

Photo: Vitamin Sunshine

There’s a reason dates are called “nature’s candy”—they lend so much sweetness without any added sugar. These gooey bars make the most out of the chewy fruits, using them for both the crust and the top layer, while a touch of sea salt adds a slightly savory element, and walnuts provide a complementary crunch.

Photo: Fed and Fit

While regular creamsicles are almost too sweet, this thick and fluffy pudding goes for a much more subtle flavor. The rich coconut milk and the clementine segments add just enough natural sugar.

Photo: Blissful Basil

Who needs heavy cream and sugar when dates and avocados can do just as good a job of producing a killer chocolate mousse? With zero added sweeteners and a good amount of healthy fat, this isn’t just a perfect dessert, it could pass off as a filling breakfast too.

Photo: Avocado a Day Nutrition

Make sure your raisins and nut butter have no added sugar to make these cookies totally free of sweeteners. Almond meal keeps them gluten-free, while coconut oil instead of butter and eggs means they’re completely vegan too.

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This Indoor Cycling Class Doubles As a Tour of Paris

The funny thing about indoor cycling is you pedal for an hour, but you don’t actually go anywhere. OK, if you go to SoulCycle, you might be spiritually transported, but you’re still in the same room.

What if your indoor cycling class could take you somewhere? Hop aboard the Paris Navigating Gym. The 45-seat boat travels down the Seine powered by all that pedaling, so it’s super green too. Carlo Ratti Associati, the firm that designed the floating gym, says it could be ready for riders in 18 months. Now you have another excuse to visit Paris.

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The Weird Trick That Makes Coffee Way Less Bitter

There are lots of ways to make coffee taste less bitter—you can add sugar or milk. Or you can add an egg. Yes, an egg. It sounds weird, but science says it works. When you pour boiling water over an egg and coffee grounds, the protein in the egg binds to the part of the grounds that causes bitterness. Just be sure to strain the mixture—otherwise you’ll be left with scrambled egg-like clumps in your cup of joe.

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The 11 Reasons That Tinder Match Never Messaged You

Those of you who are regular swipe-app users—your Tinderers, your Bumblers, your OkCupiders—will be familiar with two nearly simultaneous and almost always contradictory emotions. The first comes when you match with someone: the giddy high that accompanies your two pics dancing across the screen, Tinder’s celebratory “It’s a Match!” with an “M” so sassy that it should come with a parental advisory, or Bumble’s “BOOM,” which might as well just say, “YOU GUYS SHOULD BANG.” You think… “maybe… maybe this is the one! The one who’s going to change everything!”

Photographed by Julia Hembree

The second sensation comes shortly thereafter, as you try to craft a perfect-but-totes chill opening message to this new potential life partner. “Hey, how’s your day treating you?” is my boring default, as I don’t want to invest too much or seem too eager. Because the reality is that the likelihood that this human will write you back is closer to nil than my checking account, and that, my friends, is saying something.

But why? Why won’t they just write you (me, us) back? I’ve assembled the comprehensive list of explanations for when you’ve matched with someone who looks ~~perfect~~ but who ends up completely ignoring you.

1. They’ve made a horrible mistake.

This one rates highly in the likelihood department because we’ve all been there. Your thumbs are swiftly flicking through faces, and then suddenly something weird happens with the angle of your hand or the touchscreen has a mini-seizure, and all of a sudden, you’ve matched with Taylor, a perfectly nice-looking grave-digger who you’re just not excited to suck face with.

2. Your conversation just didn’t spark.

True, the full extent of your attempt to communicate with this new, exciting person is no more than a few words, but maybe buried deep inside those words was a blaring siren of awkwardness that sent up more red flags than the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. They just know.

3. They were drunk when they swiped right on you.

There are those people who at the beginning of the date make you think, “I don’t know if I’m really into this,” but then a beer or two in, you’re like, “I really love the name Flannery for a girl and Clayton for a boy,” so why shouldn’t the same thing hold true for swiping under the influence? In their defense, I don’t know how I’d feel about getting a message that was like “OMG I’m so sorry I was totally wasted when I swiped right on you,” so maybe silence really is the best answer here.

4. They swipe right on everyone and see who swipes right back.

I didn’t know until recently that this is a thing, and it seems pretty f*cking horrible. It’s less “he’s just not that into you” and more “he’s just a total douchebag.”

5. They can smell your desperation.

I mean, if the NSA can turn on our camera phones without us knowing, surely Apple has devised a way of transmitting how much you desperately need this embryonic relationship to work, if only so you don’t have to deal with Aunt Sheila’s probing questions about why you’re still single at your cousin’s wedding in June. Clearly, Jordan can tell just how badly you want it, and is accordingly running, screaming into the night, in the opposite direction.

6. They’re sadistic and cruel.

This one time, I matched with a guy who was cute or whatever, but not slack-jawed-accidentally-walk-into-a-post pretty or anything. I sent him a friendly, harmless, “Hey Nick, how’s your weekend going?” and he wrote back, “No.”

“No… what? No weekend?” I asked innocently.

He sent me an animated gif of Homer Simpson backing into a hedge. I sent him an animated gif of Oprah looking happily confused at the 2015 Oscars. He sent me a gif of a weird cartoon spider shaking its head, and then blocked me.

Let me just say that this guy—who must have swiped right on me at some point—was giving me a hard rejection via gif? I mean, I am a goddamned Fulbright Scholar. Needless to say, I had a few glasses of wine following that interaction. I think I earned them.

7. They’re already married and just forgot to deactivate their Tinder.

What happens when you’ve found the one? Is there a button somewhere in these apps that says “I’m all good! Take me out of the mix!”? I know I’ve never seen one, not that I’ve had cause to look… so I’m just going to assume that there are some number of faces I’m seeing of people who are happily ensconced with their future husband already. The internet seems divided on what happens to your account if you stop using your swipey app but don’t fully eradicate yourself from it—i.e., delete your account—and the idea that the reason Jamie never wrote back is because he is busy getting married to Royce is somehow easier to stomach than the idea that he just DGAF.

8. Their friend was swiping for them.

I’ve covered in full the various pitfalls of this exercise.

9. They died.

There are 7 billion people in the world. Every day, 151,000 people die. That’s roughly .002 percent of the world’s total population. There are 10 million daily active Tinder users. .002 percent of 10 million is 200. So every day on Tinder, there are 200 new ghosts in the mix. That’s just math.

10. They got distracted and forgot about you.

This one is lame because you can’t actually hate the person for it, but—especially for that guy who looked kind of promising—can be frustrating as hell.

11. The biggest, best, least satisfying, and most likely reason: They’re just not good enough.

Yes, no one wants to hear it, but even though Tyler was super handsome and wrote a witty profile and swiped right on you, a match who can’t be bothered to write back to a personable, friendly message isn’t worth the data you used to download their photo. It doesn’t make them suck any less, but maybe it will make their silence just a little less hurtful.

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20 Awesome Things About Being in Your Late 20s

A lot of people think college was the best four years of their life, and others never wanted high school to end. Maybe you can’t wait to hit that age where it makes sense to settle down with a spouse, 2.5 kids, and a house in the suburbs surrounded by a white picket fence.

But your late 20s? Ugh. They’re just an awkward, in-between phase. No one ever talks about how excited they are to turn 28 or 29; there’s even an alleged curse on age 27 because a surprising number of celebrities die at that age.

Well, I’m here to argue that our late 20s get a bad rap. No one ever talks about the good parts. Sure, there are difficulties: trying to build your career; juggling said career, friends, and dating; dating in general. But there are plenty of perks to take advantage of between 25 and 30 that we don’t discuss enough.

1. You have an awesome group of friends.

By now, you’ve established some rock-solid relationships with people who truly get you (and won’t make fun of you for staying in on a Friday night). High school and college throw a lot of randoms together in classes and dorms—who become your friends through default—but now you get to choose people who complement your interests and actually add value to your life.

The author, Locke, cooking in her kitchen.

Cooking with avocado AND red wine—can't beat that combination.

2. You know how to cook more than mac and cheese.

Not that there’s anything wrong with mac and cheese, but expanding your palate and kitchen skills in your 20s will benefit your health and your wallet. You don’t have to know your way around the kitchen like Ina Garten, but it’s nice to know how to whip up a few nice dinners. (Not there yet? Start with one of these incredibly easy and healthy meals anyone can master.)

3. You know what kind of person you want to date…

… and you’ve stopped wasting time on people you know you don’t. There’s merit in dating different types of people, but by the time you hit your late 20s, you’ve—hopefully—realized what qualities are actually important in a significant other (honesty, ambition) and which aren’t (cool car, hot body).

4. You make better life decisions.

So it turns out your brain isn’t even fully formed until after you turn 25. Research indicates that the frontal lobes, which manage impulse control and planning, are the last areas of the brain to develop. (That explains those 3 a.m. Jager bombs.) Now you’re better at making the right choices for the long run rather than the short term.

5. You know what works for your body (and what doesn’t).

You’ve figured out that liquor does make you sicker, so you stick to wine (or vice-versa). You may have also realized that eating a lot of sugar and processed food will make you feel like crap. And that a yoga class or a run feels really damn good.

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6. You know how to take care of your brain too.

Staying mentally healthy is something you (hopefully) don’t have to think about much in your teens or early 20s. But the more life experiences you go through, both good and bad, you understand the damage that stress, anxiety, or depression can do. I’m not saying it’s easy, but learning how to handle whatever is going on in your mind is crucial. (And if you are going through a tough time, here are 81 mental health resources to turn to.)

7. You’re not afraid to ask for what you want.

Something clicked for me after age 26: I realized that it's OK to be assertive. I realized that if you want to be in control of a situation, it’s OK to control it. Speaking up is something especially young women struggle with, although I think the tide is finally changing. Personally, I’ve started to be more vocal about my desires in work, life, and relationships—and damn, does it feel good.

8. You've learned how to say no.

Along those same lines, I’ve also realized that it’s OK to say no. Saying no to something doesn’t mean you’re being rude, lazy, or negative. It simply means you’re choosing to give more time to things that matter in your life than those that don’t—like that second date or third beer.

9. You actually have $ to spend (and save).

By your late 20s, chances are high that you have more disposable income and a few more zeroes in your savings account than you used to. And let’s be real: Getting a raise or a promotion is so much better than good grades in school. Plus, your late 20s are a win-win: You’re still young enough for stores like H&M or Forever21, but you also know it's smart to invest in some nicer clothes that’ll last longer than three washes.

10. Your friends are getting married.

I know, weddings can be crazy expensive (refer to No. 8 if your social schedule is getting out of control). But on the bright side, they’re fantastic excuses to visit some surprisingly beautiful places (looking at you, New Jersey!), hang out with friends and family you don’t see that often, and take advantage of an open bar and free food.

11. You get to play with said friends’ babies.

It’s a totally trippy feeling when your first good friend has their first child, and you realize they’re responsible for raising another human being. But it’s pretty sweet to get your baby fix and hang out with your friend at the same time. Plus it gives you some time to get the hang of it before you decide whether or when to have kids of your own.

The author, Locke, with her parents.

Hanging with my parents… and my friends.

12. You relate to your parents on a different level.

It’s pretty cool how family dynamics change as you get older. My parents and I relate on a different level now that I’m a full-fledged adult and can thoughtfully discuss real-life things like politics or finances. Who knows—maybe they’ll even ask you for advice.

13. You’ve made your house or apartment into a ~home.~

Not saying you have to graduate from IKEA and Target completely, but chances are your house or apartment has some unique, creative touches that aren’t cliche posters of Audrey Hepburn. Hanging out in a comfortable, cozy space you’ve created from scratch (even if you have roommates) is a pretty fantastic feeling.

14. You can appreciate a night out as much as a night in.

This may be my favorite thing about my late 20s. I still love to have the occasional big night out with friends, but I also love staying in with Netflix and popcorn. And I don’t feel bad about doing either. #IDoWhatIWant.

15. You don’t have to prove yourself at work every damn day.

Now that you’ve been working for a few years, you no longer have a resume that lists your high school student council experience. That makes a big difference; people at work have probably grown to respect you and your ideas, and maybe you even manage a team of your own. The responsibilities are bigger, but mentoring someone younger can also be super rewarding (and duh, it's awesome when you can pass off some of your busy work).

16. You can network without feeling like a fraud.

Another work perk of your late 20s: It’s way easier to email people whose work you admire, and they don’t automatically get annoyed by some college kid wanting to "pick their brain." You’re at the point when people are not only willing to meet you, but they’re more than likely interested in your work as well.

17. You’re not (as) addicted to your phone.

If you’re born in the late '80s to early '90s, you’re one of the last (lucky) generations to experience life sans smartphone. Obviously, you’re still on Snapchat, Instagram, and all the other apps of the moment, but you’re also well aware there’s more to life than staring at a screen 24/7. Savor it, folks.

The author, Locke, with her new camera

Playing around with a newly discovered hobby: photography.

18. You get to decide how to spend your free time.

One of my pet peeves is when people say they’re bored. I know it’s so easy to fall into the standard weekend trap of going out, waking up late, working out, hanging out, etc., but there is so much you can do in your spare time: Take a photography class, read, practice yoga, start a side business. Take advantage of it now—all that alone time is going out the window when (if) you have kids.

19. You’re finally OK with just being yourself.

I’m not saying to settle for mediocrity, but at some point in your late 20s, you stop worrying about how you stack up next to other people. You realize that life is no longer a popularity contest (thank God) and that your only real competition is yourself. It’s cheesy, but as long as you’re doing your best, whatever that looks like, you’re doing great.

20. You’ve figured out your values and priorities in life.

By this age, most of us have experienced a tragedy of some sort—whether it’s losing someone close to us, going through a health scare, or dealing with serious family drama. The silver lining? Going through a rough patch will make you reassess your values in life, which is a really important thing to do in your 20s.

Maybe you realized that being close to your family is more important than traveling the world. Maybe you realized that helping others makes you happier than making a lot of money. Maybe you decided you want to be a creative entrepreneur, not a corporate lawyer. Whatever it is, now that you’ve got your priorities straight, you can start planning a life that lines up with them.

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Lena Dunham Shares the Unhealthy Way She Lost Weight

Lena Dunham has been an outspoken critic of President Trump from the get-go, and she recently revealed in an interview with Howard Stern that Trump’s win even caused her to lose weight.

“Donald Trump became president, and I stopped being able to eat food,” she told Stern. “Everyone’s been asking like, ‘What have you been doing?’ And I’m like, ‘Try soul-crushing pain and devastation and hopelessness and you, too, will lose weight.’”

Dunham’s definitely not alone. Stress can disrupt your eating habits in all sorts of ways—leading to everything from binges to a total loss of appetite.

Given the current state of affairs, it’s easy to get caught up with worry, but in times like these, it’s more important than ever to practice self-care. Go for a walk, treat yourself to something, and please, for your own good, take a break from social media.

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Finally, Models Call Out Fashion Week for Promoting Disordered Eating

Leaders in the fashion industry don't like to acknowledge the pressure models are under to be thin—extremely thin. It's not just unhealthy, studies have shown it more or less promotes eating disorders. After years of mostly being silent, a growing number of models are finally calling out the fashion world.

Dozens of models, including Iskra Lawrence and Geena Rocero,
wrote an open letter to New York Fashion Week designers, demanding they "prioritize health and celebrate diversity on the runway." The models know petitions can easily fall on deaf ears, so they have a plan—an incentive—to get designers to listen.

Together, the models involved have millions of followers on social media. Designers who work to increase diversity on the runway will be recognized on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and those who don’t will be ignored. Simple as that.

Fashion Week starts February 9, and we can’t wait to see if designers listen to the message and include diverse bodies on the runway. In the meantime, go ahead and read the open letter in full below:

Dear Members of the American Fashion Industry,

As models, we care about each other’s health and wellbeing. As we look toward New York Fashion Week, we strongly urge you to prioritize health and celebrate diversity on the runway this season.

Concerns about the fashion industry’s promotion of extreme thinness are nothing new but a recent research study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders confirms that unhealthy weight control practices are a serious problem in the industry. Too often, models are being pressured to jeopardize their health and safety as a prerequisite for employment.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health concern and survivors often suffer irreversible damage to their health. That is why we have teamed up with the Model Alliance and the National Eating Disorders Association to address this issue.

Together, we are challenging you to make a serious commitment to promote health and diversity on the runway. Through our social media platforms, which collectively reach millions of people, we will recognize the industry leaders who step up to this challenge. Specifically, we will keep an eye out for diversity of race, size, age, and gender status, and we hope to see diversity within and across all of those categories.

No one likes the hassle or expense of increased regulations and paperwork. However, data shows that the American fashion industry has yet to prove that it is capable of following healthy practices on its own.

Now more than ever, we have an opportunity to send the message that diversity is what makes us strong. We sincerely hope that all of you—from designers and editors to agents and casting directors—will collectively harness the industry’s creative power to be forward thinking, inclusive, and do the right thing.

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Trolls Relentlessly Body Shamed This Woman, but There’s a Happy Ending

Trolls on Twitter will probably never go away, but actress Zendaya’s response to a cruel meme is proof that haters never prosper. When she caught wind of a now-deleted body shaming meme, she clapped back with a super satisfying tweet.

Here's the meme:

Body shaming meme

And here's Zendaya's response:

But the story doesn't end there: Zendaya asked her followers to help track down the woman in the photo, so the actress could offer her a modeling contract for the clothing line Daya by Zendaya. And because the Internet is a magical place, Zendaya's followers found the woman, Ciera Davis, on Twitter. Davis said the offer was a dream come true:

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