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EveryBODY IS A GOOD BODY (The Re-Formation Of Beauty Standards) Tarik Carroll for ISSUE 14

Updated: May 10, 2023

As a kid I was always different, lm sure it was challenging for my parents to raise an outspoken, headstrong, vibrant, eccentric Black child. As a child, I started to embark upon my first understanding of body concept. I began to develop perceptions of my body's attractiveness, acceptability, and functionality by comparing myself to others. In those moments, reality would hit me like tons of bricks. During my developmental years, often felt isolated. I was consistently the tallest kid in class, the dude with a voice higher than most of the other boys, and (of course] I was always the chubbiest kid. Early on I was labeled "different" which is something that has followed me throughout my life. At 6 years old, being "different" felt like a curse. But now at 34, being "different" feels liberating as I step further into my identity and authenticity. Society has always had this obsession with perfection. This obsession conditions most of us to never feel comfortable in our own skin because we never attain the standard of beauty that society places on us, and most likely will never be. Voices beginning to ring in our heads. Echoes of "you are not thin enough, thick enough, you're too pale, too black, or simply not beautiful enough" to be accepted. These deafening voices circled my thoughts throughout most of my life. We hear this from our coaches, our teachers, and surprisingly, even from our own parents. This idea that "perfection" MUST be achieved, no matter the emotional cost, distorted my perception of myself and my body for years It wasn't until I started working in the fashion industry that I began to see through the "4th wall" and embark on my own journey towards acceptance, a path that led to the realization of the supremacy of representation, inclusion, and diversity. Upon learning the powers of photo retouching commonly used in the fashion industry, I came upon the realization that perfection and beauty are purely subjective constructs. Once I started to build friendships and working relationships with various models, I quickly learned that body image issues didn't discriminate. Listening to male models with bodies that rival Greek gods told me that they too suffer from body image issues. This realization was equally eye-opening and jarring for me. Five years ago, I decided to dig deeper within myself and truly shift the subject matter of my photography. I made the decision to create with intention by crafting imagery that not only showcased and celebrated a broader spectrum of body types and gender identities, but also create work that felt authentic, elevated, and ultimately healing for myself and others who look like me. This series is a visual conversation about inclusion and diversity which intend to translate into an actual conversation about the positivity that begins within. - Tarik Carroll

Creative Direction + Photographer Tarik Carroll

Model Ady Del Valle

Photographer Assistant Tevin Evans

"My body is strong, I am enough as I am, I deserve to be loved, I deserve to love myself, I release the need to judge myself negatively."

Model Lyn Spells

Photographer J "Slim" Robertson

Creative Camp Studio

Carroll graduated from The New York Institute of Technology with a BF.A. in Graphic Design and hails from the New York-based borough of Brooklyn. With his core values centered around family, music, art and community, it’s clear to see why his work resonates with a wide range of individuals. His imagery focuses on body positivity, particularly among Black and Brown individuals. He shows us that beauty, acceptance and freedom are accessible to everyone. His captivating aesthetic and powerful message lends itself well to creating powerful images that are both inspiring and thought-provoking of representation in the media.

Can you tell us more about the 'EveryMAN Project?

The EveryMAN Project is a visual conversation and initiative that I started back in 2017. My initial goal was to challenge society’s obsession with hyper-masculinity and perfection by capturing men/males identifying from all backgrounds, orientations, gender identifications, personal classifications, races, and colors.

Take us back to the moment you decided "this is my body and I love it". What led you to this point?

I can’t necessarily say it was one particular moment but more so a series of live events that really made me look at myself and my relationship with my body. From there began a cycle of unlearning and re-parenting cycle that's taken me years to unpack and learn how to love my body.

How do you showcase body positivity in your creative work?

I'm very intentional with whom I shoot. My goal is to advocate for all marginalized body types through imagery and always make sure that my concepts are in alignment with my intention.

Who are some of your influences when it comes to body image and body positivity?

Growing up, There were very few positive influences to look up to which is why it was important for me to start The EveryMAN Project to be the change that I wanted to see and create the representation that I never had a child.

Creative Direction + Photographer Tarik Carroll

Model + Styling Soouizz

What helps you to feel comfortable in your skin?

Daily Affirmations, Meditation, and really surrounding myself with a loving tribe that loves me for who I am and encourages me to be my best and most authentic self.

When you find yourself critiquing your body in front of the mirror, what positive words of affirmation do you tell yourself?

My body is strong, I am enough as I am, I deserve to be loved, I deserve to love myself, and I release the need to judge myself negatively.

Creative Direction + Photographer Tarik Carroll

Model Laquan Pegues

What do you appreciate about your body, unrelated to appearance?

I appreciate how resilient my body is. Likely if you are reading this, your body has survived a 3-year global pandemic & which is something to be thankful for.

What does a positive body image mean to you?

Having a positive body image starts from within. It starts with self-love and learning to love those parts of yourself that you tend to hide from the world.

Creative Direction + Photographer Tarik Carroll + Monet Maxwell

Styling Monet Maxwell

Model Yaya Sinai

MUA Ashley Ibon Rosario

Hair Crowned By Liv

Photo Assistant Ryan C. Hamilton

For the critics of the body positive moment, what message do you want to send them?

I really have nothing to say to my critics other I want them to know that the call is coming from inside the house. We all really need to do the research & internal work because honestly, there will continue to be more societal consequences if we don't. The reality is that we live in a very panoptic society and we all continue to surveil each other when it comes to our bodies and gender expression. Over the years I've had a myriad of responses to my work with The EveryMAN Project from conservatives and the manosphere contingent who tend to lack the logic to have a cogent conversation about the harmful effects of hegemony and hegemonic masculinity which all ties back to whiteness. The overall structures of hegemony need to be addressed in order for us to move forward as a society and truly cause a shift in consciousness.

What advice would you give someone struggling to love their body?

Be patient with yourself. One of the first things I would say is to really check your environment and make sure that you are surrounded by a tribe of loving individuals that encourage you to be your most authentic self. Sometimes we can be surrounded by people who don't have our best intentions at heart and that can definitely alter our perception of self, community is KEY. Affirmations help accompanied with actions of self-love. Positive self-talk is your best friend as well

Model Laquan Pegues + Yaya Sinai

Photographer Tarik Carroll

Creative Direction + Styling Joshua Althina

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