The majority of young men do not define themselves as masculine

TORONTO — A new study sponsored by AXE reveals that young men, ages 15 to 25, are shifting towards inclusivity and acceptance. The study supports a growing trend showing young men feel more comfortable to say things that may have been considered taboo in the past, or to participate in activities that may not have been socially acceptable.

The number one men’s fragrance brand in the world wants to push the boundaries of masculinity by encouraging guys to find magic in themselves, and their friends. To champion this, teens are invited to participate in the first ever social movement that will encourage Gen Z to stop and think about—and ultimately defy—how society says a ‘real man’ should act

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The study revealed 70% of young men have been told that a ‘real man’ behaves a certain way. Young men exposed to this message are more likely to associate masculinity with being aggressive, desirable to girls, attractive and tough, compared to those who have not heard this message.

Traditionally, male youth shy away from sharing their emotions because they’re afraid of being vulnerable. There’s a seismic shift in how youth are approaching male friendships, which debunks previous notions for how youth show intimacy or express feelings. Sixty-nine per cent of young men who have supportive guy friends said they are comfortable complimenting their friends on something they did well, compared to only 47 per cent of those who do not have supportive guy friends. Youth need the support and reassurance from their peers in order to be satisfied and comfortable with their outward behavior.

“Gen Z are consistently challenging the status quo,” said relationship and parenting expert, Dr. Karyn Gordon. “Teen boys are more confident and independent than earlier generations, and are increasingly receptive and accepting of individuality, rather than fitting the traditional mold. This study underscores the importance of maintaining supportive friendships to ensure young men are comfortable being themselves and not subscribing to stereotypical definitions of masculinity.”

Two of Toronto’s hero athletes who support this ideology include Toronto Blue Jay Marcus Stroman and Toronto Raptor Kyle Lowry, who were first in line to participate in a branded campaign dubbed Praise Up. The power duo launched a series of online videos to encourage youth to tell their friends about their ‘something.’

“Our brand’s bold new direction celebrates modern masculinity,” said Dan Alter, senior marketing director, personal care, Unilever. “We’re committed to taking action and empowering youth to find their magic.”

Other key findings from the Masculinity Study include:

  • 53% of male friendship decisions are influenced by their guy friends, while only 34% impact decisions about their appearance
  • 69% of respondents who have supportive guy friends are comfortable giving a compliment on something their friend did well versus only 47% feel comfortable giving a compliment who do not have supportive guy friends
  • Young men who have supportive guy friends take 6.5 selfies before posting one to social media compared to young men who are not supported by their friends take an average of 18 selfies before posting one to social media

How to participate in Praise Up

The outdated and harmful norms of manhood limit guys’ self-expression, and AXE wants to change that. Praise Up is a social movement that aims to empower youth to own the magic in themselves and point it out in others.

To participate, record a video of you sneakily giving one of your best buds props for what makes him special without him knowing. Give him a shout out for his wit, his hair, his honesty, his spontaneity, his unique skills—whatever his magic may be. Post the video to Snapchat, share it on Instagram Stories, Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #YouGotSomething and challenging your friends to do the same.

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