In 2019, it’s become obvious that many traditional masculine stereotypes are having a negative impact on boys and men. With pressure on men to be tall, muscular, rich and good at sports, it’s no surprise that men who can’t fit into this narrow view of masculinity struggle with themselves.
Fortunately, some of Hollywood’s leading men are beginning to push back against this narrative. Male celebrities such as John Legend and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are starting the conversation by speaking out about toxic male masculinity and leading by example.
From flaunting their skin care routine to opening up about mental health, these seven male celebrities are redefining what it means to be a man in 2019:
Both Chris Evans and his character Captain America are redefining what it means to be a man.
Let’s start with Captain America—as a soldier, leader and 6’ 2” muscular white man, Captain America gives the outward appearance of traditional American masculinity. Yet, his signature weapon is a shield, he has little sexual experience and he tries giving his opponents an out at almost every opportunity.
As for Chris Evans himself, the actor has fought against traditional ideas of manhood in several ways. Not only has he opened up about his mental health and struggling with anxiety, the actor also blasted Piers Morgan on Twitter after he criticized Daniel Craig for wearing a papoose.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Powerful, handsome and absolutely shredded, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the epitome of manliness. Despite his ripped exterior, The Rock isn’t afraid to share his feelings.
The actor has been vocal about his struggles with depression over the years and continues to encourage young men to talk about their own mental health. In an interview with The Daily Express, Johnson stressed the importance of helping people when they’re in pain and reminding them that they aren’t alone.
A father to three girls, Johnson also knocks down the stereotype that men can’t be hands-on in the early stages. When his youngest daughter was born, The Rock posted a picture to Instagram of him and his newborn daughter along with a touching message explaining the importance of skin-to-skin contact for new dads.
Celebrities can be incredibly secretive about their skin care regimen, but not Dax Shepherd. From face masks to de-puffing pads, the actor and Armchair Expert Podcast host has embraced several forms of self-care while sharing them via social media.
Not only does he regularly practice self-care, he also celebrates the fact that his wife makes more money than him. While this might threaten some men’s masculinity, Shepherd made it clear (somewhat jokingly) in an interview with Conan O’Brien that he doesn’t mind his wife’s massive success in the slightest.
Perhaps most admirable is Shepherd’s desire to raise his kids away from today’s toxic masculinity. In another interview with Conan O’Brian on his podcast, Shepherd talked about how a documentary on masculinity called The Mask You Live In opened his eyes to how many parents unknowingly raise their children to conform to dangerous gender stereotypes.
With a voice like velvet, effortlessly cool style and handsome good looks, it’s not surprising that John Legend has been People’s “Sexiest Singer Alive” multiple times. Even so, Legend recognized at an early age that music and the arts weren’t put on the same pedestal as sports when growing up amongst his peers.
Although his decision to pursue music was a good choice for Legend, other young men don’t have it so easy. Many boys are discouraged from pursuing their passions, not because they are idealistic, but because they are less manly.
In a tweet posted by Mic, Legend states that we should value other forms of masculinity—not just the stereotypical sports-minded man. The singer emphasized the importance of being more inclusive and valuing not only athletes, but creative thinkers, artists and others.
In addition to snagging the stereotypical manly character of James Bond, Daniel Craig has also appeared in countless films that show off his manly attributes. Yet, he was mercilessly mocked by Piers Morgan and other internet low-lifers after carrying his daughter in a papoose.
Although Daniel Craig did not respond to this criticism, Chris Evans quickly came to his defense and put Morgan to shame. After all, there is absolutely nothing wrong with carrying your child in a practical manner.
In fact, women find men with babies attractive. If you need proof, this picture of actor Cam Gigandet is making the rounds on Pinterest:
Although most men can’t relate to the pressures of fame and fortune, many can relate to Zayn Malik’s struggle with anxiety. The singer and songwriter has canceled more than one show due to his “extreme anxiety.”
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, around 40 million adults are affected by anxiety disorders. But unlike women, who are more likely to seek help for their anxiety, men are far more likely to keep their struggles hidden.
Although Malik’s fans weren’t pleased with the cancellation, they no doubt appreciate the rare honesty of a man struggling with his mental health. Like any physical illness, every man should take the necessary time to heal and seek medical attention if needed.
As a soccer star, David Beckham boasts one of the primary attributes of masculinity—sports. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying sports and having this be your passion, Beckham has proved that there is far more to him than being an exceptionally good midfielder.
In fact, Beckham is now widely revered for his impeccable grooming and sophisticated sense of fashion. Despite his interest in fashion, his quiet manner and somewhat high-pitched voice, Beckham’s masculinity was never questioned.
The soccer star recently posed on the cover of Love magazine sporting green eyeshadow, and this only solidified his status as a fearless fashion icon. By successfully transitioning from elite sports star to fashion and grooming icon, Beckham has helped change how we view traditional male athletes.
The negative gender roles and stereotypes that persist today won’t vanish overnight. These concepts are deeply rooted within our society and will take years—if not decades—to correct. Still, these male celebrities are taking the first steps at challenging toxic masculinity.