Be a man.
It probably wouldn’t surprise anyone that men hear this saying countless times throughout their lives. Each time, the meaning is clear: be dominant, strong and void of vulnerability.
In the 21st century, that phrase should be antiquated by now. Unfortunately, society still feels entitled to tell men how to be “men,” and the road to redefine this preconceived idea of masculinity is painstakingly slow.
Big Fig, the world’s first and only mattress company tailored specifically to plus-size, big and tall sleepers, however, has set out to change that.
People First, Mattresses Second
Founded in 2015, Big Fig (short for Bigger Figure) set out on a mission to advocate for everybody and every body having a comfortable, long-lasting mattress designed to support a good night’s sleep. The process of designing and building mattresses was the easy part thanks to generations of industry knowledge backing them up. Composed of individually wrapped steel coils, high-density responsive foams and ThermoGel cooling technology, the Big Fig was tested and ready to accommodate any body shape, even after being compressed and shipped.
The real challenge was educating the world that something as basic as having a comfortable place to rest their head at night was a privilege not granted to all. And the double standards don’t stop there: Over 42% of Americans don’t have the same body neutrality as straight-sized people. Everyday experiences that straight-sized bodies take for granted are anxiety-inducing for bigger figured individuals. Buying a car, sitting in an airplane, shopping for clothes, sitting on a public couch — the list goes on, but the sentiment is the same: this one-size-fits-all world doesn’t work for every body.
A Collective Voice for Change
This quest for body neutrality led Big Fig to launch The Collective — a diverse group of influencers from all walks of life who consult with the brand to help identify issues and challenges facing marginalized communities. It was important for Big Fig to have male representation on the advisory board so they could begin the process of destigmatizing the toxic culture of masculinity.
The brand championed their male Collective members to be themselves in all their raw honesty. Gone were the days of body dysmorphia being seen as just a female battle – it was time to get real. From athletes to models, for those within the LGBTQ+ community and those beyond, Big Fig provided people with a safe space to air their struggles, find solutions, and, of course, a supportive mattress to get a good night’s rest.
What has resulted is a community for bigger figured people — including men — to gather, share their experiences and be vulnerable about the mental and physical challenges that stem from being judged based on physical appearance alone. It’s normalizing men shedding traditional masculinity to validate that they have insecurities, too. In the process, these advisors have helped Big Fig better understand the hurdles they face and the moments that bring them joy to better align the brand with philanthropic and marketing efforts that make an impact, not simply a profit.
Creating More Space for YOU
While Big Fig has carved out a niche for itself, fighting for greater inclusivity is a task much bigger than just one company. Other brands need to follow suit to make body neutrality the norm. It’s time for companies to start listening to their consumers and creating greater authentic accessibility through inclusivity. As part of this, more male voices are needed to shed the self-isolation society has forced them to conform to and redefine what true and honest masculinity looks like (aka you).
Because, at the end of the day, mattresses are meant to be slept on, but we cannot afford to sleep on making body neutrality the norm.
The Big Solution
It is no easy feat to take on societal issues. The ability to affect change comes from cohesive effort.
Start using your voice and your experiences to show others we all struggle and share how you have been able to overcome those to thrive. And, if you need more inspiration, check out our current Collective Members and follow us on our social channels or apply to be part of the Big Fig influencer network as we tackle everything from sex positivity to body image issues to banning fat discrimination.
There are so many ways that we can make a true impact together, but it will take all of us coming together and cheering each other on to shift the tides to a more inclusive future.