Arrested Movement: Celebrating the Full Range of the Men’s Bodies

Anthony Patrick Manieri joins us to discuss his awe-inspiring testament to male body positivity, Arrested Movement, which you can now own it in book form.

Anthony Patrick Manieri is a Canadian born self-taught photographer and director with three decades in the industry. He has worked in fashion, portraiture, and food photography while also photographing events that have taken him around the globe. His work has been seen in print and online in publications such as Vogue Italia, TimeOut, Out Magazine, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Art in America.

Manieri has been a spiritual energy enthusiast for well over a decade. As such, he took the initiative of combining his love of portraiture and human interaction, mixed with healing by creating the photo series Arrested Movement, focused on body positivity and acceptance for men.

Anthony Patrick Manieri

The photo series was an instantaneous hit within the bear community since we, of all people, try to live by the message of body positivity imbued in the project. The photo series also featured many members of our community in their full, naked, unapologetic glory. It is rare that a project of this scope and scale is undertaken by an artist as talented as Manieri and it shows in every single photograph. His work was even acknowledged and showcased by the prestigious Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Naturally, bears and photography lovers worldwide have clamored for the project to be released in book form and we are pleased to report that the time has come! With over 500 portrait sessions with different men since 2016, the Arrested Movement Volume One photo book holds a selection of beautiful bodies in movement and stillness alike. This hardcover first edition fine art book will be charcoal Milbank linen bound with debossed foil stamped lettering and feature over 250 images and a selection of essays. It will also have a graphic dust jacket with a soft touch velvet lamination coating and be signed by Manieri himself.

This exquisite piece of art is only available on Kickstarter until July 18, so if you want to secure your copy, you will need to act quickly. And as is the case with all Kickstarter projects, if the book is not fully funded by the end of the campaign, then the book will not be able to be printed which would be an absolute shame.  

To discuss this amazing project and the message behind it, we sat down with Anthony Patrick Manieri. You will find our complete conversation below.

John Hernandez (JH): When did you first become aware of the disparities in the way different bodies are treated in mainstream culture?

Anthony Patrick Manieri (APM): Growing up, we were conditioned to see specific body types advertised to us as the norm and as the ideal to be desired. I honestly didn’t think twice about it. I knew I didn’t look like any of the Hollywood actors, musical stars, or models selling products to us. When we did see a larger or smaller body type, they were often the goofball, the butt of the joke, or the lead’s sidekick—never the protagonist. That was just the way it was, and I accepted it. Instead of questioning it or pushing for change, I, like most men, internalized feelings of inadequacy. I only became aware of the disparities regarding different body types when I was mature enough to think critically and realized that this wasn’t good enough for me.    

JH: How did that realization affect you personally and when were those effects felt?

APM: Even though I didn’t question the state of how bodies were represented growing up, I still felt the effects of it subconsciously throughout my life. It’s human nature to want to fit in and be accepted, whether you’re a child or an adult. And I was no exception. I became hyper self-aware of my behaviour of comparison, that had been ingrained in psyche. But in the last couple of decades, I’ve worked through most of it. Life is too short to feel that way. I’m good just the way I am.

JH: Gay bears in particular strive to celebrate their bigger, harrier bodies but we fall short sometimes because we are repeatedly hammered with negative messaging as you alluded to above. Projects like yours ease that pain and help to normalize our bodies, so thank you. Are you a member of the bear community and how do you think we can better embrace our bodies?

APM: I do consider myself part of the bear community, as I fit the mold. I’m a bigger man who happens to be hairy, and I’ve always been attracted to bearish men. Though I’ve only been to one bear event, and it was because the Bears of Poland Association invited me to photograph men from Poland and Eastern Europe for Arrested Movement.

By cultivating a new, authentic, and truthful perception of ourselves, we can begin to embrace and appreciate our bodies for what they truly are. It’s time to break free from distorted ideals of perfection, whatever that may mean for you, and embrace the journey. I’ll never have a 32-inch waist because my skeletal framework won’t allow it. We need to acknowledge and accept our individual challenges and limitations. Body positivity is incomplete without prioritizing our overall well-being. It’s essential to maintain the integrity of our mental, emotional, and physical health, ensuring they are in harmonious balance.

Start by being kinder to yourself and more compassionate with others. Learn to quiet your mind. Act from a place of empathy. Put down your phone more often and limit your media intake. I realize that may be hard for most, but therein lies the problem—we have become a culture of social media addicts. Try to step out of this muddied herd mentality of idealistic perfection because it truly doesn’t exist. Being the best version of yourself is achievable by working on yourself every day.

Spend time with the people who love and lift you up. Devote more time to being in nature. Start using a daily journal to list the things you’re grateful for. Make healthier food choices to maintain optimal physical health. Forgiveness is also a great tool for healing. Forgive yourself, forgive others, and forgive difficult past situations. Be present. Show up for yourself. You’re worth it.

JH: That is great advice. Words to live by, in fact. Tell us about how Arrested Movement came to be a reality and how it ultimately came to be in the “Fashioning Masculinities” exhibit?

APM: The idea for Arrested Movement emerged from a combination of factors that aligned and presented themselves to me. These circumstances provided the opportunity to create a visual conversation that empowers and inspires, while highlighting the sad reality that men are often absent from discussions on body positivity in the media. Most accumulated statistics focus on women, leading to a lack of tailored support initiatives that inadvertently neglect the mental well-being of men. Body positivity isn’t gender specific. Men struggle too. Men feel too. Including men in the conversation matters. Representation matters.

In the summer of 2021, I was approached by a curator from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, England. They invited me to showcase part of the Arrested Movement series in their first major exhibition on men—a retrospective focusing on men, fashion, and masculinity from the Renaissance to the present day. The show, in partnership with Gucci, was titled ‘Fashioning Masculinities – The Art of Menswear’. It was a dream and an honor to exhibit my work alongside these master artists in one of the best museums in the world.

All these beautiful men who trusted me to capture their physical nude bodies, being vulnerable in their rawest form, with the message of body positivity and the importance of representation, were now being celebrated on a global scale.

JH: How were the models chosen for the shoots and ultimately the book? How did the shoots work? Were they heavily directed or improvised?

APM: From the start, men from different countries reached out, praising the series for celebrating the diversity of men’s bodies. Many shared their stories and struggles. Working with these men in their most vulnerable states, I noticed we all share similar insecurities, despite being on our different journeys. 

Everyone was welcome to participate. Once the models decided to attend, that was half the battle. I had a limited amount of time with each of them, and my job was to make them feel as comfortable as possible, as quickly as possible. After initial directions—and continuously directing the gentlemen throughout their time with me if needed—I would periodically stop to show them their images thus far. Ultimately, it was up to the model to surrender and be present in the moment, and when that happened, magic would unfold.

Everyone has a story. Everyone is on a journey. Though there was one man that forever will be ingrained in my mind. He pulled me aside on set and proceeded to tell me as to why he decided to participate. He shared with me the numerous medical conditions he had, and that he wanted to be a part of this series to make sure there was proof he existed in this world. I have him a big hug, and when we were done, I excused myself from set and went outside and had a good cry. It has been my intention that the message of this series is heard, understood, and hopefully adapted into the narrative of the body positive and acceptance movement that men also feel and struggle with their bodies. But that moment really shook me. It fueled something within me, validating that what I was doing had considerable purpose. Unfortunately, I heard that that beautiful man had passed away.

JH: What do you hope Arrested Movement will accomplish and has work begun on Volume 2?

APM: I hope that Arrested Movement can inspire viewers who find a physical familiarity with the imagery to know that they, too, are beautiful. If we exist, then we are indeed beautiful. Additionally, I hope to somehow help reshape the conversation around body positivity by having the dialogue consistently include men.

Volume 2 is nearly completed, but I am looking for men who wish to share their stories of body acceptance in the form of an essay (long or short) to be included in the book. I’m also working on photographing men for Volume 3. So, if anyone is interested and can get to Toronto, I would love to work with you. I traveled quite a bit for this series before 2020 and plan to do so again, but I am currently based in Toronto.

I have a few things lined up for the future under Arrested Movement including men’s wellness retreats and another related series that I am actively looking for queer illustrators to participate in.

JH: That all sounds amazing. I cannot wait to see what you come out with next. Thanks so much for joining me Anthony and best of luck with the Kickstarter.

APM: Thank you!

Get your copy of Arrested Movement: Volume One by supporting the Kickstarter campaign HERE.

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John Hernandez

John Hernandez is the Editor in Chief of Bear World Magazine. In addition to bear culture, he specializes in entertainment writing with a special focus on horror and genre films. He resides in New York City with his husband.