Proud2Bme | Style Has No Size: An Interview with zacheser of Chubby Guy Swag

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Style Has No Size: An Interview with zacheser of Chubby Guy Swag

By River Zain Ceballos--I'm extremely proud to introduce you all to zacheser, creator of the blog Chubby Guy Swag. zacheser was nice enough to let us into his world, share his tips, and offer advice for young men who struggle with what they see in the mirror.

In this interview, I asked him about ways male college students can develop a positive body image and feel comfortable, confident, and content in what they wear. It’s a must-read for young adult men. Check it out and let us know what you think via social media and the comment section below!

River Zain Ceballos: What inspired the idea to create your blog, Chubby Guy Swag?

zacheser: I put together Chubby Guy Swag because I was a fat guy who liked being fashionable, but I didn’t see a lot of visibility for fat men in the “fatshion” community. It was something I started to think about a lot. And after submitting some photo sets to other fatshion blogs, I noticed that I wasn’t the only one who felt snubbed. I really struck a chord. Guys would reach out to me, tell me their struggles when it came to clothing and their relationship with their bodies, and that’s when it became a big deal to me. There needed to be a safe space for fat men that celebrated their bodies and their swagger. It was born out of what I felt was necessity.

RZC: What does the word “swag” mean to you?

z: When I was 21, I used to think “swag” was about owning yourself. Don’t get me wrong: confidence is a huge part of the battle i.e. having the nerve to defy mainstream ideas of what’s attractive - or healthy - by claiming ownership of your body. But now, it’s become more complicated to me. “Swag” now means that not only do you claim ownership of your own body, but you help others claim theirs. Body positivity is a community-based ideal and a large part of being in a community is supporting others, being thirsty for knowledge, and not being afraid to be an active participant. “Swag” is about having the courage to be - and accept - yourself and the courage to help others do the same.

RZC: I sincerely admire your confidence. Is it something you've always had or did you have to work to acquire it?

z: I definitely had to work. I’ve always been fat. It’s been a defining characteristic for me. I was bullied, beaten, and humiliated because of my weight and that led me to going to a military boarding school at 13. While I was there, I started pushing myself to lose weight, but in an unhealthy way. I was pushing myself for the wrong reasons and I started practicing unhealthy habits to achieve, what I believed at the time, an acceptable image of masculinity.

Music saved my life. It wasn’t until I discovered Beth Ditto that I began to recover. Her views on body image, being true to yourself, and finding the strength in your uniqueness flipped a switch in me. Over time, I started finding things that I loved about me. I worked to find the things that made me unique and quirky and worth it. And in college, when I started DJ’ing, I discovered that my relationship to music is what makes me “me.” It was literally my tool for survival.

Of course I have my bad days, but now I just try to take a deep breath and remember that I’m living an extraordinary life filled with dreams and opportunities and those are things nobody can take from me.

RZC: Going back to school, everyone wants to look their best. What advice do you have for men who can't fit into name brand clothing? Any alternatives?

z: Go online. Hunt. Go to flea markets, clothing swaps, and thrift stores. Sew. Check out your local Torrid or Forever 21+. Who gives a damn if it’s targeted toward women! Gender is fluid. Pants are pants. Besides, most plus-size ladies have been where you are, so normally they’re willing to help.

RZC: From personal experience, college is in many ways a time to reinvent yourself. What tips do you have for a young man who wants to feel brand new and confident?

z: Hold your head high with your shoulders back. It’s totally psychological, but if you walk like a badass, you begin to feel like a badass. Also, it’s always nice for a change in perspective. Try new things. Explore. And don’t be afraid of mistakes because mistakes are just lessons you haven’t learned yet.

RZC:  What are some of your favorite clothing stores to shop at, that you've noticed carry larger sizes?

z: I really like suit shopping. It’s very therapeutic. So, I normally venture into places like Macy’s or Bloomingdales. And most mainstream brands like Old Navy, American Eagle, etc. have extended sizes online, but I’m admittedly a littler fat guy on the spectrum.

Bigger guys might have a harder time because sometimes the extended sizes cap off, especially if you’re both big and tall. If that’s the case, your best bet are places like Destination XL, but it’s not very age appropriate a lot of the time. The plus-size menswear market is a very thirsty one and one that won’t begin to be catered to by mainstream fashion brands unless we speak up.

Trust me. The moment that a company like Torrid decides to launch a line of menswear, I will be first in line. All of this said: I have a couple of things up my sleeve with a certain plus-size designer that I’ll be sharing on Chubby Guy Swag later this fall.

RZC: Are there any quotes, mantras or sayings that have helped you that you'd like to pass along to other young men who battle who they see in the mirror?

z: There’s a lyric from LCD Soundsystem’s ‘All My Friends’ that goes, “I wouldn’t trade one stupid decision for another five years of life.” The things we learn are what compose our character and the things we learn about ourselves are what define us. Be you, in all of your glory, because ultimately it’s your life to live. So why not say f*ck it and be confident?

About the blogger: River Zain Ceballos is a spokesperson, print model, actor, and activist. Follow him on Twitter @RiverC_Official.

For more by River Zain: 

Where are the Plus-Size Male Models?

Breaking the Perfection Mold

I Have a Voice and I Intend to Use It

Images courtesy of Chubby Guy Swag

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