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You’ll likely recognize him if you watched “Jane the Virgin” on Netflix.
He played Rafael Solano—a successful, rich, muscular, handsome, charismatic man (also a bit of a playboy). Hollywood’s prototypical dark and handsome male.
His real name is Justin Baldoni and he’s now using his fame and social media platforms to debunk myths about masculinity. In 2017, he took to the TED stage for 18 minutes to speak about why he’s “done trying to be ‘man enough.’” Heck, I’m not even a guy and this clip gave me goosebumps.
Justin admits playing a role both on and off the screen throughout all of his life—the role of a man he never was. He talks about how he spent 30 years struggling with insecurity, shame, and pressure to live up to a certain image of “being a man.” I know many other men who feel this way.
“I’ve been pretending to be strong when I felt weak, confident when I felt insecure, and tough when really I was hurting.”
Worse, he felt he couldn’t reach out to male friends about these serious issues. Men may feel comfortable talking to each other about sports and women, but not so much when it comes to feelings.
“I know men who would rather die than tell another man that they’re hurting…if it’s about work or sports or politics or women, we have no problem sharing our opinions, but if it’s about our insecurities or struggles, our fear of failure, then it’s almost like we become paralyzed.”
This is so important because men should not have to suffer in silence. Men should feel like they can open up about their mental health. Being vulnerable is strong.
He opens up bravely about how he unconsciously upset his wife with his actions in the past. He admits cutting her off when she was speaking or finishing her thoughts for her. He explains how he used his louder voice to silence the woman he loved. Until he asked himself, “am I man enough to just shut the hell up and listen?”
Toxic masculinity is unhealthy, for men and women. Justin explains the dangers of porn, violence against women, and not saying “stop” when men hear their male friends making inappropriate comments about women.
“As men, it’s time we start to see past our privilege and recognize that we are not part of the problem, fellas we are the problem.”
His father, who is sitting in the audience is moved to tears as Justin pays him a beautiful homage:
“While my dad may not have taught me how to use my hands, he did teach me how to use my heart, and to me that makes him more a man than anything else.”
I wish there were more male celebrities who used their visibility and fame to raise awareness about such important matters.
This video is raw and thought-provoking, and I hope the message is spread everywhere. Have a watch: