Exclusive: Meet Steven G., the Savage x Fenty Model Going Viral on Instagram

Steven G, Savage x Fenty Model

Steven G

It’s been almost a week since Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty Vol. 2 premiered on Amazon Prime and its corresponding collection dropped online, but we’re still obsessing over all the ethereal beauty and diverse showcasing of bodies. Photographer-turned-overnight-model-success-story, Steven G. isn’t ready to come down from the high of it all either. Photos of Steven from Savage’s e-commerce site have been blowing up feeds and selling out Savage because shoppers were over-the-moon to see a plus-size male model go mainstream. 

Rihanna was purposeful in including all bodies (and all genders) on the runway and online, and the praise Steven received is a direct result of that decision. Steven chatted with Byrdie and we found out that the Kansas City native who tied the knot earlier this year usually works behind-the-scenes as a fashion photographer, creative director, and stylist, but decided to take a leap of faith into modeling just before the pandemic. We also found out more reasons why he’s a Byrdie Boy to watch and why he says “brawn” is the new “big boy.”

On getting discovered...

"My very first shoot was the Savage x Fenty shoot because as you know COVID hit in March and everything was shut down so I really wasn't able to do a lot. So a lot of the content I was creating was at-home content. A lot of my portfolio was me and my wife. I was shooting the content myself. The producer from Savage reached out to me on Instagram, and he was like, 'Hey, look, I wonder if you'd be interested in a new campaign.' And I was like, 'Whoa!'"

"The buzz came about when a girl posted me on Twitter. She wrote, 'Okay, Rihanna' with the eyes emoji with a screenshot from the e-commerce site. I didn't do any of the launch campaign images or the show. So yeah, those were the images that kind of blew up from there."

On his unexpected viral fame...

"There's so much love it's overwhelming. It's been keeping me afloat and really just getting me going because honestly, I didn't realize the impact that this would make on other men. They’ve just been reaching out saying 'Hey, I love that you took the initiative to be that representation that we really needed.' So, it wasn't even about me. I thought it was gonna be something for me but it became something so much bigger. Now it's been highlighted in an industry that has slept on this demographic. That's been the best outcome and takeaway for me."

I thought it was gonna be something for me but it became something so much bigger.

On making another Savage x Fenty appearance...

"I've had exchanges with the producers and Savage team like, 'Wow, this is crazy,' but I haven't talked to [Rihanna] yet. I would love to continue to work with them. The Savage team is so cool, so smooth, and so diverse that it made me ten times more comfortable to actually do the shoot. Even on set, it was good vibes. And I would definitely love to continue this partnership and to help pave the way for more brawn men in cyberspace."

On men and the body positivity movement...

“I do think that for men especially [the fashion industry] is lacking tremendously. I think there’s a lot more opportunity in the industry for brawn men, men XL or above than we realize. We are still fashion consumers and we don't have that representation. It's not there. That's definitely something that can be worked on and just the idea of body positivity in general which is really about self-love. I’d like for society to take the approach of just making it a health thing."

"Health doesn't come in a size. You can look a certain way but that doesn't mean you're healthy, and you can look a certain way that doesn't mean that you are healthy. We should focus on being confident because I feel like a lot of people who are a bigger size lack confidence so they don't even attempt to do the things that they desire to do. [...] Rihanna is taking that step for us. It opened up that door for a lot of people to actually tap into something deeper than just body positivity, but really just hone in their gifts, talents, and their God-given abilities."

Steven G, Savage x Fenty model
 Steven G

['Big boy'] doesn't really include a lot of the swagger that comes with 'brawn,' or the confidence that comes with it.

On fans calling him "big boy"...

"Oh, it's funny. I think for me, culturally 'big boy' has kind of always been around so it's more so laughable. But when it comes to fashion, I appreciate 'brawn' because I feel like it really signifies what that is, especially for men. ['Big boy'] can have a bad kind of connotation, so I definitely want to push 'brawn' when it comes to bigger sizes. ['Big boy'] doesn't really include a lot of the swagger that comes with 'brawn,' or the confidence that comes with it."

On those who say men can "get away" with being bigger...

“I will say that for women, in my opinion, [fashion] has actually opened up a lot more than for men. Curvy women have a whole section of clothes in most retailers now. Men don't have that. Men aren't as vocal about these things, so you wouldn’t really know in comparison the magnitude of how that's received. A lot of that is internalized. We’re just not as open about it and this is the first time it’s really been done on this magnitude, with [Savage] being a mainstream brand. There haven't been any major designers or major brands to feature brawn models in this way. So it's different. But I do think that for women the industry has come a long way and curvy models are getting a lot more praise.”

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On his very "simple" skincare regimen...

"I would say my facial regimen is the most simple regimen you can think of. It’s just Dove soap. That’s what I’ve used most of my life. I've tried some other products but that has been the most consistent one for me. Literally, I just use soap and water on my face. When it comes to my beard, there are a few different small businesses and Black businesses I’ve been supporting. As for a regimen, I would definitely say wash with shampoo and use oil. Just a little bit of the oil just because my skin in particular doesn’t react so well with oil. So well so I definitely try to stick with a beard wash and shampoo or beard conditioner. I had a brand give me some products called Beard Care Gang so I’ve been using those recently."

On how he stays brawn...

“I train three to four times a week, just due to my current schedule. I incorporate weightlifting as well as cardio. I’ll do 30 to 45-minute cardio reps. So that's kind of been my plan so far until I try something different. I try to switch it up.”

Editor's note: Quotes have been edited for clarity.

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