New York City-based queer photographer Tarik Carroll set up the body-positive EveryMAN Project in 2017.
At that time, Carroll had been working as a fashion photographer for ten years. He usually shot agency models but tells Gay Star News he, ‘got tired of being a part of the problem and creating content without intention.’
‘I grew tired of creating visuals that I couldn’t see myself represented in. I grew tired of working in an industry where my black, plus-size, queer body was not represented.
The idea for the EveryMAN Project was born.
‘I wanted to find a way to use my art to heal; to ultimately heal from my own trauma dealing with toxic masculinity and body image issues as well as helping other men do the same.
‘I created EveryMAN to inspire and empower. But I had no idea that it would grow into such a movement.’
‘To liberate men worldwide from self hate’
Carroll describes EveryMAN as a, ‘visual conversation about male aesthetics.
‘This project is geared towards creating a safe space that I hope will serve to liberate men worldwide from self hate. We create visuals that spark much needed conversations about body diversity, representation in media of all male body types, toxic masculinity and mental health.’
To this end, the campaigns and photos feature men of all shapes and sizes, all orientations, races and colors.
The project has led to US TV interviews for Carroll and brand collaborations with ASOS and All Saints. More collaborations are in the pipeline.
‘Our goal currently is to build out the community even more. We are planning a few fun events for 2019 surrounding wellness and fitness. We have a few exciting things up our sleeves in addition to the completion of our coffee table book and a documentary.’
Carroll says he finds the response to the project overwhelming.
‘I am grateful for it every day. On a daily basis I have mothers reach out to me via instagram and on my personal account as well, thanking me for the work that I’m doing and how much it has helped their kids feel represented and more confident.
‘The influence of this project is immense and fashion brands have been taking notice. We are slowly starting to see more diversity. However, we have a very long way to go.’
‘You can be body positive and have fitness goals’
He has little time for those who say body positivity projects promote unhealthy lifestyles.
‘It’s actually the opposite. Body positivity is about promoting mental and physical wellness. Body positivity is about loving yourself and accepting yourself as you are, in your skin in this very moment.
‘You can be body positive and have fitness goals. Those things are not mutually exclusive. I have worked in the fashion industry for ten years and have dealt with models that are beyond fit. They appeal to the industry’s very narrow perception of male beauty, but that can encourage eating disorders, self hate and body image issues on a daily basis.
‘I feel forcing people to adapt to unrealistic standards of beauty is promoting unhealthy lifestyles. It’s why we need initiatives like The EveryMAN project now more than ever.’
Carroll will be marking the two-year anniversary of the EveryMAN project with a special photo series, but for now he’s staying tight-lipped over what it will involve. He’s also hoping to produce some fun merchandise over the summer months – building on a small range of apparel already produced. Follow the @theeverymanproject on Instagram to stay informed.
He’s also always happy to hear from potential models – more details at the theeverymanproject.com