Up Close and Personal with Model Rob Robinson…
It’s no big secret that plus size men have been making waves in media and the fashion industry.
One model/influencer has been at the forefront of this movement in a big way, model Rob Robinson. With his mix of sexy, humor and bold confidence he’s inspiring hundreds of thousands of men to live unapologetically.
Can you tell us about your body positivity journey?
The reason why I’m transparent about my body positivity journey is that I feel like many men are afraid to show their bodies. Not just bigger men, but men of all sizes are not feeling good about themselves because they feel as though their bodies are not up to par with what they see in mainstream magazines and media.
I have grown to infinitely love my body. I love what I have and I love everything about me. I feel as though what I have sets me apart from everyone else and that is why I am unique. Everyone should feel this way about himself or herself. Embrace what you have and don’t be afraid of what people are going to say or think.
I’ve had a lot of guys tell me how I’ve helped them come out of the shadows and have come to embrace themselves. Once I realized this was a push that we needed in the male industry of clothing, modeling, and overall media, I decided to continue to be transparent about my journey.
Did you grow up in a family where self-confidence was celebrated?
Yes, I grew up with 5 siblings and I was always uplifted. It did not matter what shape or size I was, my family supported me. My parents always said, “Step out there like you own the place”. I used to be around 380 pounds and even then I was a showstopper; I still commanded the room and made my presence known. I always knew at the end of the day I could do anything just as good or better than anyone else just by having the sheer confidence.
The plus size modeling industry has continued to make progress in recent years. Why do you think it’s taken this long for the industry to begin to recognize the need for more plus size male models?
Number one, there are not many Big and Tall or plus size specialty companies out there. When you do the research, not many of these companies that have come out have had the longevity; they pop up and they fall off.
Number two, fashion for us fellas is a struggle. A lot of guys I speak to agree with me, we want to look good, but a lot of these companies are stuck in their old ways of what big man want and how to dress us. They will offer a big baggy t-shirt and expect us to wear it. Personally, I like to be fitted and embrace all my curves. It’s taking a lot longer because we have these “old-heads” (or cooperate folk) sitting there making these decisions, completely disengaged from what their target audience wants. They don’t understand we want style, comfort, and most importantly options. They don’t understand social media or how men are shopping these days.
It’s taken the three or four companies big and tall men do have to shop from a lot longer because they are not buying into the fact that big men want to look stylish. On the women’s side you have so many shops, festivals, and shows, but on the male side it’s slim-pickings.
Do you think male models and influencers are helping to push the brands towards change? And is social media a major part of it?
Of course, being that I’m not signed to an agency people are always asking how I get my gigs. The answer is my social media!
I’ve had meetings with huge companies and brands, so change is happening. These companies have social media departments because it’s not about me walking into a store to buy clothes. It’s about men being online, seeing someone that looks like them on social media or in an ad and clicking on it to buy the item. Many men I’ve spoken to would look online and click on a hashtag such as #bigandtall and find me and others leading the industry. They find the clothes we wear and will immediately go to the website to make a purchase.
DXL had a huge campaign in LA that I attended with DJ Khalid and all these other big-time stars and it’s like how did you get this gig, via social media!
When it comes to social media people are so concerned with likes and numbers, but what they fail to realize is that companies are going to ask for your engagement. Anyone can pay for likes and make it look like this or that, but when companies ask for you to screenshot your impressions, then what? How many people are you actually reaching?
Do you think this is why some companies are hesitant to work with influencers?
Well, that is what’s happening. Everyone is a self-proclaimed influencer. Many times people can pay for followers, likes, impressions, etc. However, when that “fake” influencer has been paid to host an event and the expectation isn’t met because only a handful of people show up, companies are bamboozled. They are misleading these new brands and the social media people report back to the CEO’s.They question why they should be investing in influencers or social media. There is a battle back and forth with this.
If someone looks at your social media, what could they expect to find? How would you describe your brand?
Eccentric, fun, exciting, authentic, appealing, new school… I mean there’s a lot that goes into my brand, BURN. BURN (Built Up Real Nice) is basically showing the authenticity of who I am and putting myself out there not because I’m doing it for the money, but more so because I love inspiring people. I am continuously building myself up. I don’t do this for the money, that’s the plus. When you do something you love and you get paid to do it that’s even better.
Being an influencer is also a job/business. Can you talk about navigating this path?
Some people think ,” I’m cute, I can take a picture and become an influencer or model and make some money”. This is not the way it works… we also see people just posting “sexy” pictures and tagging body positivity, but we not selling that. Don’ get me wrong sex sells and I use it as part of my own campaign, but you don’t get into this arena just to sell your body. It is about so much more self-worth and acceptance. It is about navigating your life as a model, so others can navigate their own. It is about appropriately casting yourself, so you can connect with the right people and companies to share an idea or concept (whether it’s clothing, an event, or something else).
We also have people doing FREE campaigns for these big companies or posting for clothes. Then when you want to start asking for money the companies no longer want to do business. People are afraid to say no, but you have to be knowledgeable and have confidence in your brand and selling point.
You’ve always been very open and honest on social media. What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
Number one thing that most people don’t know about me is that I’m married. My beautiful wife comes to many of my events and is very much a part of what I do. I don’t show her off a lot on Instagram because my brand is a business and it’s about my followers. Not about my family or my personal life. My Instagram is about inspiring people, entertaining them and changing their day.
Building a brand is not easy… for those looking to you for advice, what five tips would you give them?
1) DO YOU! Be yourself, be who you are. Be authentic.
2) Don’t invest in fake following.
3) If you have a brand be sure to go about it the right way. Meaning, copyright, get a LLC and make sure your foundation is solid.
4) Value yourself! Don’t do something because everyone else is doing it. Don’t do stuff for free because a big brand is coming at you and you feel intimidated
5) DO YOUR RESEARCH. A lot of people get into the industry and do not know the people that are behind it or the real street runners who may not have the following but have more connects than someone with 100,000 on IG.
And I have to add one more… KEEP A SMALL CIRCLE. There’s a difference between friends, associates, and people you work with.
What can we (the plus size industry) do to support all of the models and bloggers trying to push this size inclusive moment in fashion?
Right now the only people that has promoted and invited big and tall men to strut their stuff is Gwen DeVoe and Sharon at Full Figured Fashion Week. They have a vision of incorporating Big & Tall models. There are others who are trying to employ big and tall men into their events, but are still struggling with support. Right now big and tall men are not considered much more than an addition to an event rather than THE main event. We have to support all those who are trying to incorporate us as well and promote us in this industry.
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