Meet Stevie Blaine, the body positive boy who is changing the face of body acceptance on Instagram. Stevie, best know as Bopo Boy, is spreading his message of positivity, self-love and inner strength, one Instagram post at a time.
Why body positivity?
The biggest motivator for me to start my Instagram account about body positivity was because I wanted to create the media that I needed to see as a young boy/teenager. I think growing up I always knew that I looked different to everyone else, so I was always looking for outside validation to make me feel like I belonged somewhere. I looked to media like TV and magazines and when I was growing up there was nothing that represented me, no one looked like me and it was just the same body type everywhere.
That just made me feel even more alone and that my body was the problem, which led to me going through multiple diet cycles which took me down some really dark paths like binge eating and excessive exercise habits, all sorts really.
Instagram used to be my motivation to lose weight. I would follow lots of inspo pages and fitness accounts to try and motivate myself to lose weight. One day I went onto those accounts after I think I failed some sort of Slim Fast shake or other ridiculous diets, I went on the explore feed and instead of the usual fitness models I found a plus sized girl.
At that point I thought holy sh*t, I’ve literally spent the past 6 to 7 years just trying to be skinny and I haven’t done anything other than try to be skinny. That’s when I started Bopo Boy to try and document my journey to self-love. It’s turned into a really great thing that has completely changed my life.
Do you think there is enough male representation in the body positive community?
I think we’re the smallest minority of people within an already marginalised group of people which can be really difficult. While you do get plus sized male models, that fit into the body positive community, in terms of people that speak frankly about their journey to self-love and men’s body image and masculinity, I’ve never found another page within the UK.
What were you like when you were younger, and have you always been so body confident?
I was completely different to where I am now. I would wear clothes that were way too big for me so that people would never see me, it got to a point where I would avoid everything, I would never look in the mirror, never try on clothes and generally do all I could to deflect attention away from me.
I was incredibly insecure about my body. My way of dealing with that was to be that horrible person who would deflect it onto other people, so I was miserable about myself and I would deflect my insecurities onto other people. It was the only way that I knew how to deal with my own issues.
Another coping mechanism that I had was to make a joke of myself before other people had the chance to, that way when people called me fat it wouldn’t be funny because I had already said it.
It was a really long journey, even when I met my husband I don’t think I took all my clothes off in front of him for a long, long time. Because I have lost a lot of weight I have had several different body issues, firstly it was my size, then my excess skin and other issues like that, but I can now recognize how far I have come. Sometimes even now I’ll be walking down the street and think, “Wow, 10 years ago I would never have been able to confidently wear this”.
Do you still have ‘meh’/’bleugh’ days, when you don’t feel so confident?
I do still have days like that, not that often to be honest. I’m at a point where I really appreciate everything my body gives to me. When I do have those ‘bleugh’ days I try to think about where that feeling is coming from and why I am feeling like that. Even though I exist primarily online to fight diet culture, these things are still so intrusive and can still affect me.
Do you ever get hate comments online?
I do. I have a pretty thick skin and most of the time the comments from trolls don’t bother me at all. My worry is that a lot of people following me are recovering from eating disorders themselves, and they might be a little bit more wobbly in terms of their body image than I am. My worry is that the comments could affect them, that’s why I try to remove any negative comments as quickly as possible.
Recently, there was an article about me in the Daily Mail that went viral, because of that I had loads of nice comments but also lots of hate directed towards me. There were over 4,500 negative comments on that article alone. When I was looking through them my husband said “Why are you reading through them?!”, I just wanted to see what people were saying and see what people who weren’t in the community thought about these sorts of things. To me, the hate comments I get are usually based around my sexuality rather than my body. It will always be from the same type of men who send me dick pics in my DM’s…
Do you follow any other body positivity based accounts that you love?
I love @bodyposipanda, she is basically my BOPO fairy god-mother. When this whole thing started I made a video about men’s body insecurities and she saw it. She messaged me and asked if I had ever thought about making an Instagram account. At first, I was slightly hesitant but she actually helped me brainstorm the name of the account and everything, so I basically think she is the best thing ever.
In terms of guys, there’s a plus sized male model called Notoriously Dapper, we’ve been on a few panels together and he’s just really sweet. He’s a person of colour and talks about how body image can be a weird subject for straight men. He’s just really brilliant. There’s also a guy called A Bear Named Troy who’s a plus sized model and he’s also just so great. He gives the middle finger to the typical stereotypes associated with being a man.
How did you discover the BOPO community?
Instagram has definitely been the driving force and I found it through Instagram. From the bopo community, I found the eating disorder recovery side of Instagram which has really made such a positive impact on my life.
What is your favourite part of your body?
I do genuinely love my whole body but there are still parts that I feel less confident about. I think my favourite part of my body is the part that I was most ashamed of and that’s my torso area. People see photos of me and stop and stare at it, whereas just walking down the street people wouldn’t know because I just wear a size medium. I find it starts a conversation which is amazing, so that’s now my favourite part of my body.
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