Model and fashion influencer Darnel Ghramm (second from left) admits he wasn’t always overflowing with confidence. “I would struggle,” he says about his self-esteem as a younger man. “I would struggle a lot to try to find clothes to put on, to feel good, to express who I am and look nice.” But when a friend encouraged him to post a photo of himself on Instagram, Ghramm says it “changed everything.”
That first photo actually ended up being reposted by @EffYourBeautyStandards, an Instagram account that offers encouraging stories related to body positivity. It received over 1,500 likes, along with dozens of direct messages from guys thanking Ghramm for giving them inspiration and helping them find body acceptance.
He realized there was a whole community of men like him, eager for content and images that reflected their real bodies. Though the response wasn’t astronomical, Ghramm says he realized the impact a single photo could make, which was “all the fire and the fuel that I needed.” Thus, the #WeAreBigAndTall movement was born.
In response to a lack of representation of different male body types in the fashion industry, Ghramm decided to recreate a Calvin Klein photoshoot with a diverse group of plus male models of various ethnic backgrounds. The results were so stunning that the campaign quickly went viral, earning Ghramm and the movement some well-deserved media attention.
Even before this experience, Ghramm says he remembers often “questioning society’s norms or standards and saying, ‘How come there’s no one that looks like me that’s on a runway, or in a campaign, or in a catalog?’ I’m a shopper. I’m a consumer. I get that the industry has this view of the typical male being, you know, 6-foot plus, or maybe having a 30 or 31 [inch] waist, but there’s other people out here as well that like clothes.”
“I’ve always had a love for fashion,” he continues. “For me, fashion is about expressing yourself, expressing who you are without having to say anything. It could be your mood or how you feel — if someone walks into the room, you’re going to get a feel for, or a vibe of, what they’re giving off by what they’re wearing.”
Still, being a professional model was something that was never on Ghramm’s radar. “Considering myself a model actually didn’t happen until last year when an agency reached out to me,” says Ghramm, who ended up getting signed with the modeling agency. He adds, with quiet triumph, “Lo and behold there we are, another wall taken down.”
Photography by Tony Trott