Disclaimer: this article will discuss body image issues as well as issues dealing with suicide. If you are sensitive to this kind of material, please do not read on.
In the past, AXE Body Spray has been known for the vapid ad campaigns they used to appeal to their targeted audience. Their claim to fame involved turning guys into chick magnets and their ads completely revolved around guys getting girls. Their ads also centered around a stereotypically attractive guy with big muscles and six-pack abs.
Recently, AXE has turned a complete 180 with their “Find your magic” campaign. This campaign features a more diverse image of men. There is a man in a wheel chair, a man in heels and men who are not stereotypically/traditionally attractive. There are also other images of men that typically would not be portrayed in advertisements because of the toxic expectations of masculinity that society forces upon men. The link to the video campaign can be found here.
The ad focuses on individuality and uniqueness among men. The message is this: men do not need to live up to the six-pack abs and perfectly masculine expectation of them.
Ads like this are so important. It is often thought that men do not have feelings or emotions. Men are expected to be masculine and tough and muscular. There are not enough conversations created about toxic masculinity and the toll it takes on men.
Toxic masculinity puts pressure on men to only be a certain way. They are not allowed to be feminine, they are not allowed to like things that are considered girly, they are not allowed to be who they want to be unless their interests and looks fit into the mold that society has created for them.
This is a problem for many reasons. Men are not encouraged to be themselves or to have any emotions. When we encourage men to not be afraid to be what is considered feminine, we provide them with an outlet that they were not given in society.
An example of toxic masculinity being forced on men and boys is the case of Michael Morones. In 2014, at the age of eleven, Michael was bullied by other kids at school because he was a fan of the show My Little Pony. The bullying eventually became so severe that he attempted suicide.
This is why toxic masculinity is a problem. It is not frequently addressed and it is hurting men more than it could possibly ever help them. We shove men into a box and make them believe that it is not okay to be feminine or emotional. We shove them into a box and say that it is bad for them to like things that are classified as girly.
By forcing these expectations on men and boys, we are hurting them. We are inhibiting them from being able to express themselves. We are inhibiting them from wanting to be anything other than what is expected of them. Being forced into such a small box takes a toll on emotions and self esteem, as was seen with Michael Morones and countless others.
It is time to let men be who they are regardless of societal expectations. Stop putting men in a box.