It was all the way back in 2011 that The Cut asked, "Where are all the plus-size male models?" Fast-forward five years and IMG has launched its "Brawn" division to much fanfare and a healthy dose of thirst. Yes, #BigGuyTwitter is a thing, but does that make it any easier to be a body positive male blogger? We decided to pay a visit to Ryan Dziadul, "an XXL dude living in a slim fit world," to find out. Read on for the inside scoop on sizeism, sexiness and the kindness of strangers—not to mention his enviable collection of handbags. Text and photos Sean Santiago.
Tell me a little about why you started @extraextrastyle.
I’ve always loved fashion and clothes, but never thought I was able to participate in that world because of my size. I wanted to show other big dudes that it’s possible to have fun with fashion, and I wanted to encourage folks to be more confident in their bodies. My friend Katie of @The12ishStyle has been really supportive. We were paddling around in her pool in the Hamptons (I’ve waited a year to say that) and she brought up that there was this whole movement of body positive female bloggers, but there wasn’t really anything for guys. And the more I thought about it, the more into it I was.
Why do you think there was a void? Talk to me a little bit about creating space for men to explore body positivity.
I think there are a few factors that contribute to the lack of body positive bloggers for men. There’s still the thought that dudes aren’t into fashion, and the stereotype that men don’t have body confidence issues—that men will wear t-shirts and sweatpants and still get laid because they’re MEN. The big, fashion-conscious dude is definitely not a segment I see represented in traditional fashion coverage. The only non-model bodies I see in men’s fashion are athletes.
Have you gotten any notable feedback?
When @nicolettemason mentioned that she liked what I was doing I felt like I was definitely on the right track. But I’m encouraged by every single like or follow or comment I get from guys wanting to know where I got a certain piece, or letting me know that they copied a version of my look. My own relationship with my body has changed so much over the last year. I’m more confident. I’m no longer embarrassed to say my size in a store.
And is that a direct result of just putting yourself out there on social media?
One of my goals with @extraextrastyle is just to put myself out there, unapologetically. It’s the positive feedback from followers—strangers—that has helped me find the confidence I’d been lacking. I've stopped seeing my size as a liability. I feel like a role model, albeit at a very small scale—no pun intended—and with that comes this sense of responsibility not to be ashamed of who I am, what I look like, or what size I’m wearing. I never thought of myself as “sexy,” but the dick pics in my DMs tell a different story!
Dziadul keeps memorabilia around the house, such as this pair of Staffordshire dogs that once belonged to his grandmother, gifted to he and his husband on their wedding day.
Talk to me a little bit about the “slim fit world” and the idea of fitting in in general—especially as it relates to being gay.
Sometimes people ask me what my preference in terminology is: is it “plus size?” Is it “big and tall?” I don’t care what people call me as long as we’re participating in a discussion about body acceptance. It’s a tough world out there for everyone, so let’s at least make sure that we’re comfortable and safe in our own bodies. As far as being fat in the gay world...man, gays are the worst. I mean, we’re the best, but also the worst. Instead of being inclusive I find that we create these very specific micro-communities (Bears! Twinks! Masc!) and it sucks for you if you don’t fit in. Maybe it’s a reaction to feeling excluded for so long and now it’s our chance be the excluder instead of the excludee? I mean, the last thing I want is to exclusively socialize with people who look and sound and think just like me.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever gotten about your style?
Someone once looked me up and down and said, “You look....rich.”
You leave the house with just one bag—which is it?
My Birkin. In order to get the cost-per-wear ratio down to a semi-reasonable number I have to wear it until I’m 147. But it’s never just one bag—every bag has like, three little bags in it. Big fan of a bag-in-bag situation. I’ve never met a designer lip-balm pouch or pen holder or earphone keeper or tissue holder I didn’t like.—