Kelvin Davis is a body-positive men’s fashion blogger. He is a model for Chubbies, an admin for Eff Your Beauty Standards, a dancer, a modern-day gentleman, a style icon, and a celebrator of body positivity on Instagram. Kelvin is now an author as well, with Notoriously Dapper: How to Be a Modern Gentleman with Manners, Style, and Body Confidence coming out on October 1st.
We had the opportunity to talk to Kelvin about his new book, male body positivity, being a father, and his own journey to body positivity. Check out the interview below!
Grace Bradley: Your new book, Notoriously Dapper: How to Be a Modern Gentleman with Manners, Style, and Body Confidence, tackles the development of body confidence. What does that look like in the modern gentleman?
Kelvin Davis: Body confidence in the modern gentleman is being comfortable with yourself no matter how you look. Defining your own definition of masculinity and manhood. A modern man should feel comfortable with who he is and not seek validation from the societal or media standards of male beauty!
GB: What is something you wish more people knew about body diversity and body confidence in men?
KD: I wish more people knew body confidence is for everyone! Every race, size, gender and age. Body confidence is inclusive to all! I also wish people knew how much men suffer in silence from body image issues. They think about it and often will take action to achieve whatever it is instead of accepting themselves as they are and loving the body they were given.
GB: As a father, how do you promote body confidence to your daughters?
KD: I have two wonderful daughters. The oldest is six and the youngest is two. I promote body confidence in them by being supportive and boosting their confidence. I don't want them to feel ashamed of anything that they are! I want them to love who they are and love who they aren't. They are special and unique. Being an active father, talking with them, and being present for their moments in life. These things help build confidence in our kids!
GB: How has working with companies such as Chubbies and American Eagle, and developing your own fashion blog, helped you with your own body confidence?
KD: It has definitely made me more comfortable in a bathing suit and going shirtless. Not only that but it's helped me own it and take pictures of myself shirtless! I share them with the world because I want everyone to know that we are all beautiful! I've always felt pretty confident dressed up but working with these brands have definitely helped me be more comfortable with less clothing on. I wear beach wear now like it's nothing!
GB: As a dancer, did you ever struggle with body confidence? If so, how did you work to overcome that battle?
KD: Yes, most definitely! I'm a hip-hop dancer and most of them were thinner and had the ability to do more "mind-blowing" moves because of their figures. I always felt inferior to this, but I just realized I had to work a little bit harder to achieve that. Something that was easy for one dancer isn't always easy for the next. So I've always lived by the motto, "hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work hard". I would practice and practice, some days for hours. I wanted to be the best pop locker in the Carolinas, so I made it happen. Anyone can do anything with some hard work, confidence, and faith!
GB: Were there any role models who helped you with your own body confidence journey?
KD: Yes! My mom and dad are my biggest role models for my body confidence journey. They would always tell me "not to worry", "it's your body," and they would always encourage me to embrace who I was as a person. They made sure that I was confident in myself by supporting me, boosting me, and always having faith in me. My parents always played for my goals and dreams no matter what. They always wanted me to do what made me happy!
GB: What made you want to begin your body confidence movement?
KD: I had a bad shopping experience at a store a few years ago. It left a BAD taste in my mouth. I have vowed to never feel so insecure or ashamed of my again. I don't want anyone to ever feel the way I did that day. I want people to feel confident, empowered, loved, and, most importantly, feel special. Because we are special! There is a reason why no two human fingerprints are identical. They were not meant to be the same! Just like we are not meant to be the same. We are all fingerprints. We are all different yet special to our own lines.
GB: How does the “myth of masculinity” affect male body positivity and confidence?
KD: The myth of masculinity affects male body positivity in more negative ways than positive. There is this myth that men don't cry, men aren't emotional, men don't care about what they look like, etc. When in actuality all of the above is not true. Men do care and they care a lot. Men don't talk or verbally express it because the male societal standard has forced them to be silent about their issues. Men need to redefine what it is to be a man the same way women have redefined what it means to be a woman. Men can be ballerinas, nurses, or caretakers! They can be whatever they want, what you do doesn't define you masculinity. You define what being a man is by living your own positive life, not what someone else thinks it should be!
Grace Bradley is a senior at Connecticut College majoring in dance and sociology. Working with the Active Minds chapter at Conn College and NEDA, she is an advocate of mental health and eating disorder awareness after personally dealing with both. Grace is dedicated to raising awareness about both of these issues, specifically within the dance community.