Friendship is important for the mental health and happiness of everyone. However, traditional masculinity discourages deep, vulnerable and intimate friendship between men, causing harm to their happiness. In Ronald F. Levant’s book Masculinity Reconstructed he defines masculinity as “self-reliance,” “restricted emotions,” and “disconnected from intimacy.”In the episode “The Lonely American Man,”NPR’s podcast,Hidden Brain,discusses how the meaningful friendships that fill the lives of young boys seem to dissipate as boys hit puberty and begin to internalize the values of Western masculinity, which pose friendship as unmanly due to its emotional and intimate nature. American men are plagued by high rates of loneliness due to these internalized values. This loneliness negatively impacts the lives of these adults and becomes a source of unhappiness.
My photo project for Getty simply titled “Friendship,” attempts to redefine masculinity by visualizing a male friendship that is playful, intimate and loving, featuring models Antonio Hughes and Michael Loizzo. These photos show the close nature of their friendship and how much happiness it brings the two men. In my project, I tried to keep that childlike happiness a friend brings in order to highlight the necessity of carrying these types of relationships from childhood into adulthood.
By showing how intimate, beautiful and positive male friendship is this visual discourse deconstructs the traditional notions of masculinity such as independence and self-reliance, therefore creating a happier, healthier new masculinity.
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