Although Tarik Carroll started school as a outspoken, eccentric, black child, he eventually grew into the tallest, chubbiest kid in school and had the highest pitched voice of all the boys. Isolated and ashamed of his appearance, he tried his best to “look smaller”: avoiding eye contact, hiding at the back of the bus and covering his shame and fear with cheap sunglasses and baseball caps.
“Society has always had this obsession with perfection,”Carroll said. “Most of us … never feel comfortable in our own skin because we are simply not enough and most likely will never be. ‘Perfection’ must be achieved, no matter the emotional cost.”
After working in the fashion industry for a while, Carroll realized that “male models with bodies that rival greek gods … [also] suffer from body image issues.”
In response, Carroll began The EveryMAN Project to empower, inspire and liberate men worldwide from self hate.
Looking at Versace, Calvin Klein and other major fashion brand photo shoots from the ‘90s, Carroll sought to recreate their poses and feel using the sorts of men that rarely ever appear in such campaigns: men and male-identifying people “from all backgrounds, orientations, gender identifications, personal classifications, races and colors.”
Part of Carroll’s aim is to show these brands that men of different body types can be just as alluring as the frequently used white, skinny and muscular models.
But, Carroll says:
“My main goal is to create a safe space. And to really show what body positivity is. Body positivity is not fat versus skinny. It’s being comfortable in your own skin. We’re also battling toxic masculinity. It’s like, yeah, you can be a man, but you don’t have to dress according to social gender norms. My goal is to show the entire spectrum, going from skin color to body size to masculinity, and create a safe space where everyone can see themselves represented.”
Carroll’s project has an ongoing casting call for anyone over the age of 16 who would like to participate. “We’re looking for guys who are open to share their stories about their journey and relationship with their bodies,” he says. “In them sharing their stories, they’ll be able to help someone else.”