A MAN IN FULL: Style "expresses your individual creativity," says the music educator and TV personality.
WE live in a world where full-figured women – and men – are often made to feel insecure about their weight and overall body image, which sometimes leads to chronic depression.
For Michael Sean Harris, one of Jamaica’s most beloved plus-size men, being a brother with some meat on his bones comes with its share of challenges, but he’s learned to love himself unconditionally. Depression is not in his plans. “I’m comfortable with my size,” he tells TALLAWAH. “I wouldn’t mind losing some weight, but for the most part I’m okay with who I am. You can’t hate yourself.”
It goes without saying that one of the everyday challenges heavy-set men face has to do with wardrobe. When it comes to fashion, it can be quite a hassle to find clothes that fit. What’s been Michael’s experience? “It can be a real challenge. You have to get stuff made or you don’t shop here,” he says with a chuckle. “It’s easier to go full-black sometimes, or you find tailors and designers to collaborate with.”
Working in television (as a long-serving judge for the high-school choir competition All Together Sing) and in academia (as a lecturer in Music at the Edna Manley College), Harris has been able to team up with creatives and fellow artists like Llevac Designs, who sometimes dresses him for All Together Sing and offers suggestions for his other appearances. “It’s not always easy,” Harris readily admits.
What are his tastes in the fashion/style department? “I like suits, but I also like a semi-casual look. I’ll wear jeans with a jacket and a nice pair of sneakers,” he shares. “You can also go with a block colour with some texture so that your look stands out. Simple and classy with details. But I’m not afraid of colour or prints.”
Style is utterly individual. That’s Harris’ philosophy. “It’s important for it to be personal. It expresses your creativity,” he says. “Standard things like a tuxedo, for example, can be individualized.”
In the meantime, his advice for other plus-size men, especially the younger fellows, is clear: love yourself or make some changes. “If you’re not comfortable with your size, do what you need to do to change it. It’s who you are; you have to live with yourself,” he notes.
At 40-plus, he’s constantly heeding his own advice – in the personal and professional sense. “There are some more things I want to do,” says the educator and acclaimed singer, who completed his Master’s in Music Technology and Innovation in Spain. “I feel like I’m always re-evaluating my goals, constantly re-evaluating my process. And that keeps me going.”
>> TUNE IN: All Together Sing airs Sundays at 8pm on TV-J.