Ashley, 29, Retail Assistant
Weight: 81kg/12st 10lb
“I see my body as a work in progress but I try to not get too down on myself as I’d rather be happy with a tummy than miserable trying to attain the ‘perfect’ body.”
What made you want to do this shoot?
To try to show that I may have love handles and my skin may not be flawless, but I don’t feel as if I should hide away in a darkened corner.
Have you always been confident enough to do a shoot like this?
As a teenager I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing it mainly because I rarely went out. I wasn’t very happy with my body – I was a very chubby boy and got my share of fat jokes and bullying in secondary school.
Do you think magazines such as Attitude have helped shape that body ideal that so many gay men aspire to?
As gay men, we are bombarded with so many images of men in peak fitness with muscles and bulges that make the average man faint, splashed across magazines, advertising and especially porn. These images often make me feel as if I should be striving to achieve that look and shouldn’t be happy until I do.
Do you take selfies?
I plead guilty to that charge but if I’m being honest it’s usually not my face that’s in the camera’s lens. I have a small following on Twitter who for some reason seem to like seeing my pictures.
What advice would you give to people about loving their body?
Focus on the parts of your body that you like instead of agonising over the bits you don’t. If you are trying to get in shape, take small steps because it’s a long process – if you rush into things you will be overwhelmed and give up.
If you want to be featured in Real Bodies and are available to be shot in London, email firstname.lastname@example.org.