Here’s a weird question: What size pants are you wearing? Or, more to the point, from what section of the department store did you buy those pants? Was it the “Plus-Size” section? The “husky” section? Maybe the “skinny” section? Notice all these sections are divided up by their labels for you and your body. Sure, these labels can help us make certain sizes easy for us to find. But when we’re searching for ways to outwardly express ourselves in public, to feel confident through our style and swagger, these labels can have the unintended effect of shaping how we view our bodies - for better or worse.
A Rude Awakening
Kelvin Davis, a self-described “body positive gentleman,” author, and men’s fashion blogger, got caught in this struggle from an early age. In his book Notoriously Dapper, Davis describes how he was forced to feel comfortable with standing out from an early age. For one, he was a black kid living in a predominantly white suburb, and felt out of place because of his different skin color. He was also overweight and wore clothes from the “husky” section. He didn’t know what that meant until one day in middle school a girl he had a crush on complimented his pants. When he said he had bought them from the husky section, she said husky was a nice way of saying “fat boy.” It was the first time someone had called him fat in an insulting way—but also the first time someone had complimented his clothes. A conflict arose within him. On one hand, he hated the label of “husky,” but on the other, he enjoyed the confidence boost he experienced when complimented on his style.
Davis has made a career out of teaching men to act like “gentlemen.” To him, this means carrying oneself with style and confidence and treating others with respect, kindness, and unconditional love. But he didn’t arrive at these values on accident. First, he had to learn how to direct love towards himself, and that meant learning to love his physical appearance. A few years after the ‘husky pants” incident, Davis’s mother bought him a bright fuchsia-pink polo shirt. He wore it to school with the collar popped up, and the “oohs” and “aahs” he received from his classmates that day cemented his love for fashion. The positive attention boosted his confidence and encouraged him to dress the part of a fashionista, regardless of his weight.
Becoming A Gentleman
Today, Kelvin Davis encourages other men to do the same. His dive into the world of fashion has imbued his life with a sense of self-appreciation he had never known before, and he’s made it his mission to spread the love. His fashion-focused blog, also called Notoriously Dapper, emphasizes body positivity and confidence in one’s own skin, as well as unconditional love towards others and oneself. “When I created Notoriously Dapper,” he writes in his book, “I not only wanted to show off my style as a “bigger” guy, but also to create that role model that I didn’t have growing up. Everywhere we look, it’s about getting lighter, getting thinner, and meeting an unrealistic standard of beauty that doesn’t exist in the real world … let me tell you this … you’re beautiful. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Your body isn’t wrong, the media is.” With a little help from fashion, he’s taught thousands of men to carry themselves with manners, style, and body confidence. What a gentleman.
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