Multiple factors can contribute to the development of the body image, but the biggest influence seems to come from the advertising industry, which unapologetically creates the need on the consumer to look like the ideal men or women portrayed in the media. Smoothing skin, erasing wrinkles, enlarging muscles, slimming waists… All this has become the norm in advertising. These images don’t reflect reality. This is just a convenient strategy designed to sell a product. Yet, from a younger and younger age, people are aspiring to these biologically impossible ideals. And I was no exception! Looking at these distortions of reality, I felt ugly and had the same desire as everybody else to look just as perfect as these models. But I eventually realized that this way of thinking can lead to serious body image problems. People who are unhappy about their bodies can develop eating disorders, turn to diet pills or steroids, or try cosmetic surgery and Botox injections. And I fear that, until the public responds more favourably to images of real people with real bodies, very little is going to change. This is why I decided to stand up and share my belief that everyone has the right, whatever their size or shape, to feel happy about their looks. I defend that a diversity of body shapes and sizes needs to be included in magazines, advertising and on the catwalk URGENTLY!
A while ago, I discovered Elska Magazine. Created by Liam Campbell, Elska is a bi-monthly male photography publication, whose first edition was released in September 2015.
Its name means “love” in Icelandic.
One of the main aspects which differentiate Elska from other (gay) photography-related publications is that it does not feature perfect models, but instead focuses on real people with their “imperfections,” presenting real-life people and their stories, and providing a glimpse at queer men and community around the globe. Each issue is shot in a different city. When I saw an ad looking for real people to model for the Amsterdam issue, I knew immediately that this was an initiative I needed to support. And this why, with no shame or fears, I undressed and posed for Elska. I might not have the perfect body (at least according to the advertising industry), but this is me, I am real, and I learned to love myself and to feel comfortable in my own body. And now I am sharing it with you!
Elska Amsterdam, the latest issue of Elska magazine, is out now and includes a nice selection of ordinary gay locals and their stories. Sadly, my photos didn’t make the cut for the main magazine, but they are featured in Elska Ekstra, Elska’s companion magazine with behind the scenes tales, outtakes, extra stories, and extra boys. Enjoy it!
As a famous drag queen would say: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?”
Mister Senior Netherlands 2018 3rd runner-up