Do a quick search of “man” on most stock photos sites and you’d quite possibly end up with Brad’s Pitt twin brother from his Fight Club days. A sexy stud, with a rock-solid torso and a bad-boy vibe. Attractive? Obviously! Well then, what’s the problem?
For one, it’s an unfair representation of what a man is supposed to look like. Because, it’s the only representation that we’re exposed to. Where’s the diversity? Are all men built to look the same?
The story behind toxic masculinity in stock photos
Men being misinterpreted in the media is no longer news. However, it is necessary to understand how this has happened, as this has massively led to the rise of toxic masculinity. Rigid gender roles are a result of this strict notion of what it means to be a man, back in the day. Therefore, don’t hate the dude if he’s not used to spending time in the kitchen or doing any household chores, for that matter.
He has grown up with the notion that being a man and having a pair, revolves around the concept of growing a beard, sculpting your body, smoking a cigar, sipping some whiskey, and staking your claim to be better than your other half, simply because you’re a man. Previously, this was his hero. Fast forward to 2019, and here he is, only to find out he’s been wrong his whole life.
He was dressed in blue by his parents because pink was exclusively for his baby sister, he was enrolled in football because the school assumed he hated ballet, he quit art school because society told him to get a real job. As a result, he became, according to stock images, the real man; the type we so desperately despise in today’s world.
However, that’s only half the story. Nobody talks about the time he was kicked and punched in the gut because he couldn’t bend it like Beckham. We aren’t aware of the time his dad taunted him for wanting to get into theater, instead of the military. And God forbid anyone speaks of the time his babysitter hit him for wanting to play with barbies instead of cars.
Like the Joker, he too was built by society. The difference? Unlike Heath Ledger’s iconic character where he developed his dark side after being an outcast, this dude was thrown into society. He’s a product of Gotham itself. Scary, isn’t it?
The journey to becoming man enough
The present sees a host of factors that have helped challenge what it means to be a man. Justin Baldoni, the TV star from Jane the Virgin has contributed his fair share by engaging with the male community on breaking free from toxic masculinity.
In a bid to continue with this effort, stock photos play a huge role to fix this issue and provide a better representation of the world we live in. Men of all shapes and sizes have the right to be represented in the media.
Additionally, boys too must be taken into consideration and rightfully displayed in the media, via stock photos. They must be free of any rigid notions of what it means to be a man, along with the freedom to dictate their lives. Wanna skip football for music class? Go ahead. Keen to learn to bake instead of Call of Duty? Sure. Wanna put on some make up? Flaunt it.
While our collection of images will isn’t going to change the world in an instant, but it does represent a step in the right direction. Also, for more thought-provoking industry insights, read up on our redefining masculinity piece.