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The male body positive Instagram influencer who ditched his six pack

Stevie Blaine Image copyright Instagram
Image caption Stevie Blaine's message is "it's perfectly ok to be unapologetically you"

A man who "wasted years" trying to sculpt his body has become an Instagram influencer on body positivity.

"I always used Instagram for inspiration on losing weight," said Stevie Blaine, 26, aka @bopo.boy.

But after seeing his clothes size tumble from XXL to extra small, family and friends said he had "gone too far".

His 15,000 followers include singer Sam Smith and actor Jameela Jamil who tagged him to her 1.6 million followers.

Image copyright Instagram
Image caption Sam Smith tagged bopo.boy on his Instagram story

"My message is that it's perfectly OK to be unapologetically you," he said.

"And that you don't feel the pressure to conform to a particular beauty standard to make you more valid or worthy because everyone is valid the way they are."

Mr Blaine, from Hampshire, said his 10-year "obsession" with losing weight was inspired by images of film stars with "ripped" bodies.

"I needed to have a six pack," he said.

"I lost an insane amount of weight in my early 20s and was really unhealthy.

"I was counting every single calorie.

"It was literally just enough for me to survive on."

Image copyright Stevie Blaine
Image caption Bopo.boy emerged after seeing a plus-size woman "living her life" on the beach

He would visit the gym every day after running an hour back from work.

But it was a chance view of a post on Instagram that changed his life.

"One day I saw a plus-size girl on the beach living her life with a belly roll.

"I thought 'I've been wasting the last 10 years trying to be somebody else'."

Image copyright Stevie Blaine
Image caption Stevie Blaine says people don't have to change the way they look

Mr Blaine said when he started his Instagram account bopo.boy he "went head first into the body positive movement and saw that there weren't any men".

"I want to be the role model that I desperately needed that could have saved me 10 years of destroying my body," he said.

Follower Sam Smith has taken up the cause of body positivity with a post vowing to "reclaim my body" .

Instagram said there had been 2.8 million #bodypositivity posts on the site and it was growing "as people connect with others and become empowered to share their real selves".

"Every day we see people come to Instagram to promote a positive body image, redefine body standards and find their own versions of beauty, using campaigns such as #acneisnormal and #myrealselfseptember," said a spokesperson.

How do I know if I'm exercising too much?

The Body Dysmorphic Foundation has identified some signs that you can look out for:

  • Panicking if you cannot work out
  • Excessive work outs and weight-lifting
  • Missing life commitments to exercise
  • Steroid or supplement abuse to increase muscle mass
  • Obsessively comparing and scrutinising your body

In a 2016 survey of more than 1,000 boys aged between eight and 18, 55% said they would consider changing their diet to look better and 23% said they believed there was "a perfect male body to strive for".

"I was in a school and asked if anyone had uploaded a picture to social media that wasn't edited and none of them had," said Mr Blaine.

"For women there are many body types that are considered beautiful but for for men it's one.

"Unless you have six-pack abs and a chiselled jaw you are not considered an attractive guy."

Image copyright Stevie Blaine

And he's taking his message to festivals including Bodykind in Totnes where he will be speaking to local schoolchildren.

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He has also worked with The Mix and Ditch the Label charities and is a young ambassador for Instagram "so I talk to kids about how to protect themselves online".

Image copyright Stevie Blaine
Image caption Getting it off his chest: Stevie Blaine still exercises, but for fun

"People come up to me and say 'You're the first person who has made me feel good about myself'.

"Now I exercise three times a week but it's more to do with how I feel than trying to look a particular way. I just really enjoy swimming and badminton."

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