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Being yourself? Manly As.

It seems that what it means to 'be a man' is changing. We reckon it's time to lose the old 'harden up' mentality, and look to the future of manliness.

What makes men, well, men?

In 2014, a global study set out to discover the modern man's definition of masculinity and strength. And the results were surprising. The study revealed that only 7% of men around the world could relate to the way the media depicts masculinity.

According to lead researcher, Dr Michael Kimmel: "The core of masculinity today is rooted in a man's strength of character. Traits like integrity, authenticity, and how he cares for himself and those around him – versus physical strength, power and money, which prior generations may have prioritised."

The old 'Kiwi bloke' mentality

All Right? mental health promoter Ciaran Fox says it’s time to let go of the idea that a good Kiwi bloke should be strong, silent and stoic, and to lose the whole ‘harden up’ or ‘get over it’ mentality.

"Kiwi men aren’t robots – we're human and it's normal to have emotions, and ups and downs. The most negative thing we can do for our mental fitness, is stop connecting with others or saying how we’re doing.

Fox encourages Kiwi men to be themselves and to not be afraid to talk about how they're doing. “Suppressing the real you in order to live up to the expectations of your mates or society can be incredibly damaging. We need to move beyond those pressures, and see that real courage comes from being ourselves."

Canterbury builder James Milne, pictured below, says often the way the media portray men – through movies or television – is just full of clichés. “They’re either strong and muscular, or rich and overweight with a beautiful wife. It’s not really reflective of real life. I feel like the expectations for men have moved on,” says Milne.

As for the advice Milne would give to a younger version of himself? “Be true to yourself and comfortable not to follow the crowd. I think that’s becoming more acceptable and we need to encourage that.”

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Ciaran Fox says the campaign is not saying that it’s bad to be a strong, silent type – rather it’s saying if that if this isn’t you, then that’s all right. You don’t need to fit into the mould.

“It’s time to say yes to things that we want to do but we’re prevented from doing because we’re worried we’d been seen as weak or different. It’s time to acknowledge that we have feelings and emotions. It’s time to put as much focus on growing mental fitness as we do to our physical fitness. That is Manly As.”

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