A 405-pound man who was once so ashamed of the weight he avoided his passion for fashion, has carved a successful career as a plus-sized model and has even walked the runway at New York Fashion Week.
Arcadio Del Valle, 30, used to let his size XXXXXL frame hold him back from exploring his personal style but has now amassed 7,700 body positive followers on Instagram.
He started sharing photos of his risque outfits and revealing snaps of his 405-pound body in 2015 breaking down fashion norms and encouraging larger men to celebrate their bodies.
The model’s honest take on fashion and obvious body confidence catapulted him to new heights in September 2016 when plus-sized streetwear brand VOLARE hired him to walk the runway at New York Fashion Week.
Arcadio, who works full-time as a staff assistant said, ‘Walking down the runway was just surreal.
‘My heart was pounding so hard, it almost came out of my chest.
‘In my whole life, I had never done anything like that.
‘My sister was in the front row cheering me on and I was so proud to have her support. It was one of my best moments.’
Arcadio, from Boston, Massachusetts, has walked in three major runway shows since his New York Fashion Week debut for VOLARE and another plus-sized fashion label Brandon Kyle, which he says has transformed his confidence.
‘I wasn’t confident. It wasn’t the case until about three years ago.
‘Growing up in a world where the media urges you to look a certain way, to be a certain weight and to fit into a mold, it becomes engraved in your head.
‘I wasn’t happy with myself growing up and in my early twenties.
‘When I saw people like plus-sized model Tess Holliday loving their bodies and embracing fashion, it inspired me to start doing the same.
‘I began sharing photos of my outfits and my style on Instagram and I was inspired by the good feedback I was getting.
‘My whole message is that even if you look a certain way or are a certain size, you can still love fashion and you can do anything you want.
‘It’s been humbling to find this confidence in myself.’
Although Arcadio said most of the people who comment on his photos have been positive he is frequently attacked by trolls who leave nasty messages about his weight.
‘They criticize my body shape and size and the fact that I wear makeup. They say I shouldn’t expose so much of my body because I’m big.
‘They say I am promoting obesity and that being unhealthy is acceptable and that is not the case at all.
‘All I want to do is to promote self-love and acceptance as you are, regardless your size, gender, or disability.
‘My point is for you to take those flaws and use it to help others embrace it and work with it.’
‘In my ideal world high-end brands from Gucci to Louis Vuitton, and high street stores like Old Navy and Gap would make clothes for people my size and finally include us in fashion.
‘There is a market out there if they just open their eyes. Bigger guys love fashion too. I just want everyone to be able to express themselves.’
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