What it Means to be a Manly Man


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Competing in exercises of traditional masculinity feel stale these days.

Lexi Nielsen, Reviews Editor

When most people think of a “manly man,” they think of an image that has been ingrained in their minds by society since the dawn of time. They think of a big, strong, wealthy man with a supermodel wife. This picture of a manly man that people have come to know is only one depiction of a manly man, and it is not a bad one either, but it is not the definition of what it means to be a manly man.

Today, the definition of what it means to be a manly man has come into question because men have started to stray from societal norms. Unfortunately, men who choose to be themselves, dress how they want to, and love who they want to are ridiculed by society for being a lesser man. But, is hiding who you are just to please other people really being a strong man? Or, are these people who are brave enough to face the world and its criticism stronger? If society says a “manly man” is to be brave and strong, then these people who choose to fight against criticism and be who they are seem to fit the definition very well.

An issue people have with men straying from societal norms, is that they fear their children or other men in their life will be exposed to these things and think they are acceptable. It is really unfortunate that people think someone embracing who they are is unacceptable, but these people don’t realize that their is a simple solution to their problem. Look away. If you don’t like who someone is, you have a choice to ignore them, and move on with your dull life full of people pretending to be someone they are not.

For a very long time celebrities have been defying gender norms, and their fans have watched their idols be the best version of themselves, and have been inspired to follow in their footsteps to express themselves. Many celebrities like Harry Styles, David Bowie, and more have blurred the lines between male and female through fashion and makeup. Both Bowie and Styles have inspired their fans to be expressive through fashion, and to wear anything they want even if it is traditionally worn by a girl or boy.

When Styles appeared on the cover of Vogue magazine wearing a dress this past December, people attacked him online saying he was not acting normal because he was not wearing a suit, and even started a hashtag saying #bringbackmanlymen. Despite the criticism he faced online, Styles fired back at his haters on Instagram by using their own hashtag against them and continues to wear what he pleases.

To me, this is what it means to be a manly man. To be brave in the face of adversity, and confident enough in yourself to show the world who you are. Now, this does not mean that to be manly, a man needs to defy gender norms, but it means that a manly man is someone who is unapologetically themselves, not someone who hides their identity to fit someone else’s definition of manly.