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A Changing Perception of “Masculine” Traits in Today’s World

By: Gloria Gao

When you think of an attractive man, there’s a high chance that you see what society has deemed beautiful for men. Pale skin, chiseled abs and jawline, blond hair and blue eyes, muscle, maybe if you’re adventurous, a little chest hair. However, if you turn on the television right now, you may see a new K-Pop boy group singing live for a changing audience with changing beauty standards. The age of Chris Pratt and Leonardo DiCaprio is coming to an end and the dawn of an era filled with revolutionary new celebrities is rising.

Traditionally, magazines covers are graced with images of the perfect bodies of muscular men. However, social media platforms like TikTok help bring people who don’t fit this standard to the spotlight. A body positivity activist, Ben James, works as a model to introduce plus-sized men into the mainstream media. He states, “The focus needs to shift from having these unnaturally-attained physiques that even the actors themselves can't sustain". By advocating for a more realistic beauty standard on TikTok, James is able to “give comfort and confidence to boys and men alike”.

Stereotypes of masculine beauty have always mostly included white men. Now, the racial norms of manly standards have expanded. It’s not uncommon to see black supermodels like Alton Mason appear in magazines like GQ. Additionally, the expansion of East Asian culture has led to East Asian beauty standards being implemented in Western culture. More and more people are falling in love with more feminine presenting males, which is evident in the success of the K-Pop band BTS. The gender and racial barriers of modern beauty standards are rapidly changing to fit a new audience of eager consumers.

These examples of a changing masculine beauty standard emphasize how social norms are getting freer. People will start to express themselves in the way they want to. Those who were once shunned by society because they didn’t fit in the stereotypical male standard are now able to let their ideas flow in the mainstream media. In fact, male model Orlando Hobechi says “People want to see people who look like themselves represented.". Not everyone is blond, young, and fit. So why should all the top stars of our generation be blond, young, and fit? The future of masculinity is revolutionizing the world around us, and it’s time to strap in and enjoy the ride.

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