Unconventional beauty: In defense of Jim Grant, gingers, and normalcy

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Unconventional beauty: In defense of Jim Grant, gingers, and normalcy

Though Bob Mizer’s Physique Pictorial gave its readers a glimpse of models who appeared the pinnacle of physical perfection, muscles and all, Mizer admitted he often received requests from readers who wanted to see men who appeared more … well … average.

By Andrew Barnhill

One such model Mizer featured to cater to those tastes was 18-year-old Jim Grant. While not physically imposing or even possessing great muscle definition, Grant’s “boy next door” looks spoke to men who might have seen Mizer’s muscle-bound gods as unattainable.

Mizer acknowledged that the presentation of models like Grant likely would frustrate some readers who wanted to see more bulging biceps and less body hair. Writing in a photo spread of Grant, Mizer commented, « We know in advance of printing a shot like this that there will be many readers who will ‘bawl us out’ for showing a model with such limited physical development. However, these muscle worshippers should be reminded that Physique Pictorial is prepared even more with the artist in mind than the bodybuilder.”

Still, Mizer, mercurial and up front, ignored the naysayers and, as always, produced his popular magazine on his own terms. It’s a trademark Mizer trait – using his publication as a bully pulpit from which he preached his opinion on a variety of issues, and ultimately doing things only as he wanted them done.

Mizer’s defense of the inclusion of Grant, a young drama student, seems to be his stand against some misunderstood perception of Physique Pictorial. He goes on to say, « The average artist, we find, looks for a glorified normalicy (sic) in his models. 

Here, then, is just one of many ideals, and Mizer’s opinion in his defense seems to be that one’s physique and musculature are two separate facets of the ideal. He ends his paragraph on Grant by saying that he intends to print more and more photos of such models.

Mizer’s inclusion of more « normal » models was an acknowledgement that his readers had varied tastes in men. One trait that all models in Physique Pictorial share, however, is a confidence in themselves, in their bodies, to be laid bare and photographed in a state of near or complete undress.

Beauty at its best

In more contemporary times, the outsider in the world of male desire isn’t the male with an average body ; it’s redheads, those who possess locks bright as fire and, if the stereotypes are to be believed, personalities to match.

The undeserving target of jokes for years, they appear front and center in British photographer Thomas Knights’ « Red Hot 100, » a collection of confident, playful, scrappy, and courageous redheaded men. Indeed, the book is a clear challenge to the stigma of being ginger. Knights collaborated on the book with art director Elliot James Frieze.

Perhaps even more impressive is the project’s dedication to meaningful causes, with proceeds this upcoming cycle to support the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, an anti-bullying campaign with a focus on LGBTQ issues.

When examining the contemporary prevalence of anti-redhead sentiments, it seems only appropriate that Knights choose the foundation as the beneficiary of The Red Hot 100’s 2018 successes.

As « …a visualization in itself of the process of turning a stereotype on its head, of transforming negative into positive, the sales of Thomas’ book is a testament to the growing popularity of redheaded men.