“Many men feel insecure and lack self-confidence because they do not see themselves represented in the media. However, as we become accustomed to images of diverse bodies, we can all feel more liberated”. That’s the view of Berlin-based portrait photographer Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert who is about to release his third photography book, BIGGER.
At approximately 200 pages, BIGGER (available for pre-order now) will feature around 80 portraits along with personal texts by five writers, and focus on “men of stocky or larger stature”. Ohlert aims to contribute to making images of larger or thicker individuals more visible. “There are numerous terms for this: ‘bear, cub, chubby, husky, fat, plump, big and tall, curvy, thick’, shares the photographer. “With a natural and matter-of-fact approach, I want to show the variety of bodies that are worth capturing”.
“In general, the topic of ‘bigger men’ is gradually emerging in the media. Model agencies are looking for ‘big & tall’, the male equivalent of ‘plus-size & curvy’, and fashion magazines are featuring bodies outside the traditional mainstream beauty ideal of ‘fit, athletic, and toned’, according to Ohlert. “Campaigns are promoting diversity. There is a shift happening. This topic is not new, but it’s alarming that it can still be challenging for larger individuals to feel represented.”
“When it comes to self-love and self-perception”, adds Ohlert, “there is often silence or ridicule, especially for men. This can lead to depression and create a vicious cycle. Many men believe they are not allowed to feel sexy or desirable. Shame plays a significant role. Our society struggles to love itself, as self-love is often mistaken for vanity. The desire to feel beautiful is hidden beneath layers of toxic masculinity or predefined, limited male role models. Even some well-conditioned athletes who strive for ‘more’ every day are often unhappy and dissatisfied. A goal cannot be achieved if one does not value themselves enough.”