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5 Body-Positive Men Open Up About Loving Their Bodies

"It means genuinely loving the skin that you are in, fully and wholly."

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In May, fashion photographer Tarik Carroll launched the EveryMan Project. It's a photo series — which Carroll hopes to turn into a documentary and coffee table book — that tackles the topics of body positivity and self-love. BuzzFeed talked to Carroll and three models about body positivity, the project, and the first time they felt they didn't fit in.

Tarik Carroll:

Tarik Carroll / Courtesy of Witch House PR

On body positivity: "Being positive is simple for me. It means to genuinely love the skin that you are in, fully and wholly."

On the EveryMan Project: "Body positivity is something that isn’t typically discussed amongst men. Mostly because we were taught by our fathers and male figures in our lives that feeling inadequate or displaying any emotions and sensitivity made us less than. From dealing with my own body image issue and hearing similar stories from my friends, coworkers, and even my models, I knew it was time for us to have a conversation about this — a visual conversation. The end result will be a documentary and coffee table book. My goal is to create a fully immersive experience sharing poignant stories and beautiful imagery celebrating body diversity."

Christopher Cespedes:

Tarik Carroll / Courtesy of Witch House PR

On the first time he felt he didn't fit in: "I first took notice of my appearance in junior high school. Around that time, I was noticing boys for the first time and started to compare myself to them."

On embracing who you are: "Personally, I’m working on blocking out the noise. But having more balance between personal and professional life is helping to create inner peace for more self-love."

His message to others: "When you look at yourself in the mirror, look at the features that make you unique and start to celebrate them. What makes us different makes us beautiful."

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Marquis Neal:

Tarik Carroll / Courtesy of Witch House PR

On the first time he felt he didn't fit in: "Early on in my teens. I grew up going out to all-age clubs and engaging myself in a community that was equally glorifying as it was judgmental, so as exciting as it was to express myself, there were also people right there to point out my color, appearance, and size even when it wasn't something I even noticed myself."

On embracing who you are: "A lot of 'self-care' and trying to find a new community that saw what I saw in myself. At the time, 'body-positivity' and Instagram weren't nearly as big as they are now, so I didn't have any outlets or even images to use as inspiration to feel better about myself. I found a group of people who embraced the idea of all bodies being good bodies and who really made me comfortable with being genuine to myself, even when I was still trying to figure out who I was within my identity."

His message to others: "I think it's important for anyone who's struggling with body issues to know that 'I see you,' and I've been in your shoes, and to understand that the body you have right now is beautiful. No need to doubt yourself or feel like others may see it differently because your body is yours. You don't need a reason to celebrate how amazing it really is. So let it be every day. Without shame."

Jairo D'cano:

Tarik Carroll / Courtesy of Witch House PR

On the first time he felt he didn't fit in: "At age 17, after my first break up, I was told by people that I was too skinny. Then at 19, I gained weight, and I was bullied for being overweight. So I got both parts of body shaming."

On embracing who you are:"[I've learned] that everyone comes in different sizes and shapes. That I don't have to fit into what society believes is perfect. That we don't have to fit into this mold of the 'ideal man.' Because what it means to be a 'man' now is completely different from what it was back then."

His message for others: "Love yourself! Don't try to fit in to what people think is beauty. If you want to make a change, make it for yourself, because you want it, because it's the vision that you have for yourself."

Lamar Shambley:

Tarik Carroll / Courtesy of Witch House PR

On body-shaming: "I only knew my story," Shambley said to NBC. "I only knew Tarik's story. Now, I'm seeing that there's so much more out there. This is a common thread among men — this is real. This is something that exists within males no matter what age."

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