Two years ago, Arcadio Del Valle was just a regular guy with a regular job living in Boston. His life was turned upside down when he was scouted via social media by a big and tall men’s brand that was showcasing at New York Fashion Week. It wanted him to walk in the first plus-size male runway show.
“I hesitated at first,” Del Valle tells Yahoo Lifestyle. He says he was dubious about the brand’s proposition. “I’m a 400-pound guy. I’m no model, but they loved my look and style, so I said yes and said, ‘The heck with it; I got nothing to lose.'”
The 30-year-old’s career has taken off since then, and he has walked in several runway shows and been contacted for photo shoots. But Del Valle’s real passion lies in spreading the message of body positivity and self-love, and his platform as a model has made it possible to for him to reach more people than he ever thought possible.
“I saw the positive feedback and all the messages from men, women, and even teens telling me how much they have been inspired seeing someone of my size and confidence,” he says.
Del Valle says the body-positive movement is well on its way for women, but men need more inclusion and representation — and he’s trying to change that.
“All bodies are beautiful bodies and should be part of the movement, regardless of who you are and what you look like,” he says. “The men’s side needs to embrace that more and be more comfortable, including men that are more than just average size or masculine all the time. Like the women, we all come in all shapes and sizes and identify differently, and that’s the beauty of it.”
Del Valle is calling on fashion brands to be inclusive and represent men of all sizes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average American male’s waist measures 40 inches. But very few designers and fashion brands include models who represent the average American man.
“I want agencies and brands to expand and see that the bigger guys have [the] potential to do what our smaller counterparts can,” he says. “My goal is to prove and show that you can kill it and slay it at any size.”
For those who struggle with self-love, the model has advice about how to overcome insecurities: “It starts with: Stop worrying what others will say or think. If we live worrying what others think of us, then we are not living for us; you’re not being yourself.”
“The first steps, whatever, starts with you — the only way you’ll live happily and do it with confidence,” he says. “It’s baby steps.” He adds, “No matter what your size is, sexual orientation, age or whatever … you can feel and be beautiful.”
So what’s next for Del Valle? Grab any opportunity he gets “by the horns,” he says. “Show the industry and anyone who doubted that bigger men are capable and worthy. Even with the critiques and cyberbullying, I’m determined to strive for greatness and positivity for all.”
We can’t wait to follow his journey.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
- Plus-size model Alexandra Thomas is fat-shamed by her dermatologist: ‘I’m not just my weight’
- How I learned to love my kinky hair and full lips as a black woman
- Plus-size model posts body-positive photos in Kim Kardashian-inspired swimsuit