Body positivity often focuses on inspiring women to love and embrace their curves, but Tarik Carroll hopes to expand that narrative to include what positive self-image means for men.
As a kid, Carroll never saw himself reflected in ads or beauty campaigns. He created The EveryMAN Project to help close the gap.
“Growing up as a black kid, probably the tallest and chubbiest kid in the class, I had the highest voice. I have always been different,” he said. “Looking at fashion ads when I was a child and loving what I was seeing but not seeing myself represented, I came up with the idea of recreating iconic fashion moments, and reimagining them with a diverse vision.”
He launched The EveryMAN Project in 2017 and has received notable awards and praises for his work. Carroll has partnered with leading brands such as ASOS and AllSaints. He was named “Fashion Rule Breaker” by A Plus News.
"A brand representative from AllSaints reached out to us last July, and we were able to create an amazing work showcasing men of color in different sizes in an elevated way," Carroll said. "The same with ASOS — we were able to build a relationship and create content while highlighting their amazing piece."
With all of his success, Carroll believes that fighting toxic masculinity is the root of why he continues to create.
"Toxic masculinity is very prevalent in communities of color as a result of how some of our fathers raised us, in addition to generational trauma and shame. We as men of color carry that shame on our backs, creating a cycle of pain," Carroll said. "We don’t address this pain; instead we talk about ourselves and each other negatively. We have a very narrow and dated perception of what masculinity is — instead we place ourselves in these boxes built by social constructs of what it means to be a man. We follow these ideologies so much that we truly don’t express our true authentic selves and truly embrace the entire spectrum of masculinity."
Carroll says the intersection of sexuality and body image is something that is especially important to him due to his experiences in the LGBTQ community.
"From my own experiences growing up as a black queer male in America, if you’re not white, heterosexual or male you are seen as other," he said. "For that reason, sexuality and body image are key elements of this project, especially if we are redefining male aesthetics and showcasing the spectrum of masculinity."
Carrol says he is currently working on a book and documentary about The EveryMAN Project, and he hopes to grow the campaign into a global brand.