It was 2 AM. I was lying in my bed aimlessly scrolling through Facebook, catching up on what posts I had missed during the day.
Oh, another engagement. Awesome.
She had a baby?! When did that happen??
OMG stop posting pictures of your food, congrats you can boil water and make pasta.
But suddenly, something caught my eye. I follow Whitney Way Thore on Facebook and Instagram. She is the star of the show My Big Fat Fabulous Life on TLC. I watch the show religiously and I am mildly obsessed with her because I find her, and what she is doing, very inspirational. Whitney is a BIG girl. But, she wasn’t always that way. She was diagnosed with PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. This is a problem where a woman’s hormones are out of balance. It can cause issues with your period and often make it difficult to get pregnant. When ignored, it can lead to heart disease or diabetes.
One symptom of PCOS is weight gain, which is what happened to Whitney. Her show, My Big Fat Fabulous Life, shows Whitney’s struggles on a day to day basis. It highlights her life while she is 30-something and living with her parents, her love life, and her battle with dieting and working out. She tries SO hard and has SO much self confidence and I really admire her for that.
Whitney had shared an article called “Meet Target’s First Male Pus Sized Model.” It captured my attention, so I clicked on it and read it. I read how Zach Miko, who stands at 6’6 and has a 40 inch waist, became the representative for alternative sizes on Target’s website. I started researching him.
I could not stop reading about Zach Miko. Every day we hear about plus sized models like Tess Holliday who are changing the fashion industry with their non-traditional looks. However, we never hear about any plus sized male models.
I immediately went to Instagram. Zach’s account only had 500-something followers and featured pictures of his pets, his lovely wife, beer…and the Target ads. I had hit the jackpot. On a whim, I direct messaged him and told him I was interested in an interview. He responded immediately. I was shocked. He agreed to an interview, we exchanged emails, and that was that.
At this point it was almost 3 AM. I sat up until 4:30 AM trying to think of questions to ask Zach. I was nervous…I mean who wouldn’t be he is a MALE MODEL for goodness sake! Below is the interview that took place between Zach and I via email. (Unfortunately he was too busy for a Skype interview-which is totally understandable once you see all the things he’s involved in!)
Katie Sorino: Tell me a little bit about who Zach Miko is!
Zach Miko: I’m an actor/writer/comedian/ and apparently (now) a model in NYC. I was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut and raised in Stratford, Connecticut. I’m married to the most beautiful woman in the world, Laura Miko. One half of the musical comedy duo, The Dreamstalks, who are your favorite children’s performer educator musicians…for adults. I’m an Eagle Scout. An associate producer for Bruth Media. And proud owner of a cat (Taco) and a dog (Brenner).
KS: What made you get into modeling? As a kid did you ever think you’d be doing this?
ZM: It wasn’t on purpose, My talent manager actually saw a Facebook post by one of her friends, who works as a hair and makeup artist, asking if anyone knew of a big and tall model. My manager replied saying I have a guy who does both. I was in for a test shoot the next day and booked for my first shoot a day after that. As a kid I would NEVER EVER in a BAJILLION YEARS would ever have thought I would be a male model when I was a kid. I was always the big kid growing up and was picked on a fair mount for being big and goofy. I didn’t grow up with the mindset of thinking I was model material.
KS: We’ve seen you in Target ads—do you have any cool ad campaigns or future projects you can talk to us about?
ZM: Everything is super crazy and up in the air at the moment lol. It has been one crazy 2 weeks. I don’t have anything I am able to “officially” talk about EXCEPT for my amazing Musical Comedy Duo The Dreamstalks, We will be playing at QED In Astoria this Halloween, and Sketch Block NYC on November 11th.
KS: What are your goals as the first plus size male model?
ZM: I want to change the way people think about beauty. You don’t have to be pencil thin or look like a Greek statue to be considered beautiful. I want to show people all different body types, and how people can be attractive and beautiful no matter their size or shape. I want people to feel beautiful RIGHT NOW. Not when you lose 30 pounds, not when you start a new diet, not after you start yoga, I want people to feel beautiful and love themselves the way they are right now.
KS: Have you faced any judgment or hate in the modeling world? If so, how do you deal with it?
ZM: Most of the judgment I have received has been in the comment sections of internet articles. Whenever anyone attacks your body or how you look, it hurts every time, point blank. I am lucky enough to have not only a beautiful and incredibly supportive wife, but I have had amazing support from people all over the world since my story broke. Its always important to listen to those who love an support you.
KS: What is one thing you’ll never do as a male model? (Would you do runway? Nude shoots? Etc.)
ZM: Jeez, I don’t know. I’m pretty much open to most things. Runway might be a ton of fun! I would be very hesitant to do nude. I don’t want to say 100% no because I have seen many tasteful, beautiful and thought provoking nudes. I just think that’s something I’d have to work up to and would have to be the 1000% right circumstance for me to ever consider. I think the only thing I’d never do is something that advertises something I am completely against, i.e. puppy mills or something, or anything sexually explicit for the sake of being sexually explicit.
KS: If you had to work with one designer specifically, who would it be and why?
ZM: I’d say as of right now, LL. Bean. They always had my favorite Big and Tall clothes, and I love the outdoors.
KS: How would you describe your style?
ZM: Modern day lumberjack. Not lumbersexual in the trendy sense of the word. But in the functional “I cut wood for a living” type of lumberjack.
KS: Do you have any advice for girls or guys struggling with their body image or self esteem?
ZM: Why not love who you are right now? Not who you want to be, not what you might be one day, not who you will be after you lose weight, or get a nose job, or after you start crossfit. You should love yourself for who you are right now. Because who you are is awesome, who you are is attractive, who you are is valid, who you are is beautiful.
The interview with Zach was inspiring, to say the least. People are so quick to talk about how women can have a negative body image in response to the media—but so can men. You don’t think there are guys out there who wish they looked like the celebrities gracing the covers of Men’s Health and GQ? It affects everybody. Women like Whitney Way Thore, Khloe Kardashian, Gigi Hadid, and many more female celebrities are encouraging women to change the way they see themselves. I believe Zach Miko is about to do the same for men. Not only is Zach the face that represents Target, but he represents average men across the nation. Most importantly, Zach Miko represents change. Change in how you see yourself, and how you see others.
Photos: Facebook/Zach Miko