You may know 34-year-old actor Justin Baldoni from his plethora of macho roles; Rafael in the CW show Jane the Virgin, J.T. in the movie Spring Break Shark Attack, or Barry Minkow in the movie Con Man. In many of these, Baldoni portrays the quintessential hunk, oftentimes seen on screen without a shirt.
However, what you probably don’t know is that in the last few months Baldoni has become adamantly vocal about the harmful stigmas surrounding “manliness” and “manhood,” urging men to reject the notion that being a man means you must be ultra-masculine.
Ever since his emotional letter to his newborn son in June, Baldoni has tried to figure out and emulate true manliness and fatherhood that encompass love and family. Baldoni even wrote an article in the Huffington Post, explaining his fear that his son might inherit his negative body image or low self-esteem.
Despite his seemingly-buff physique, Baldoni has admitted to struggling all his life with body dysmorphia and insecurities caused by having to fit into such a narrow scope of masculinity. The objectification of the male form and renunciation of all things feminine have left Baldoni, and undoubtedly many more men, feeling lost and insecure.
In his TED talk, Baldoni talks about scripts, and how just like in acting, everyone is given a script in life based on their gender. And just like actors aren’t always the same people as the characters they play, we don’t always think, speak or act in the ways that our gender and it’s stereotypes say we should. By trying to live in accordance with scripts, Baldoni notes that many men end up “suffering in silence,” rather than “going to another man for help.”
This is so important to realize. Many men and women assume that all men are just “strong and silent” types and that the need to express emotion is a bizarre notion pushed by the feminist agenda against toxic masculinity. When in reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Men have body insecurities, many deep emotions, and they need to vent and communicate just as much as women do.
Pretending that all men should fit into a single mold of masculinity and all of its stereotypes is hurtful to many men, including but not limited to trans men, gay men, men with different nationalities, and simply men who don’t feel connected to everything that embodies traditional “masculinity”. (Ex: sports talk, body talk, objectifying women and always acting tough).
Baldoni emphasizes the importance of men becoming vulnerable; losing their societal power and facade, and coming to a place where they can be honest and comune openly together.
With his new talk show, Man Enough, Baldoni creates this exact place. In all three episodes, Baldoni invited a diverse group of men to share dinner together and speak openly about relevant issues facing men in the present day. Some of these men include openly-gay actor and lead in Hamilton Javier Munoz, transgender fitness model Aydian Dowling, the rapper Prince EA, and former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva.
While simple in concept, the reality of this show is so revolutionary in the way it showcases men from all different walks of life, talking about critical matters while drawing from their own emotions, personal experiences, and worldview.
On the show, Baldoni also confers with clinical psychologist Roberto Olivardia and Dr Michael Kimmel, a professional in the field of gender studies, in order to gain more credible perspectives on the history as well as the social and cognitive processes behind gender roles and body images.
Ever since the airing of his episodes, Baldoni has received abounding gratitude and support from his fans and people that resonated with the messages presented by the show.
Wow. Thank you. Your blog post really touched my heart. In an often times dark sea of negativity- this is a welcomed and loving light. Thanks for the support, I appreciate you. Keep going my man. #ManEnough https://t.co/syiga0eneV
— justin baldoni (@justinbaldoni) April 2, 2018
— justin baldoni (@justinbaldoni) April 1, 2018
— Ely Bakouche (@linguisticyogi) March 30, 2018
.@justinbaldoni — best known for his role on “Jane the Virgin” — said he knows he is a straight, white, privileged man with a platform, but is using that advantage to rewrite history into a new “herstory." https://t.co/J0wcMxOnDz
— The Pitt News (@ThePittNews) March 28, 2018
— justin baldoni (@justinbaldoni) March 7, 2018
By men getting other men to talk and open up, we can usher in a new age with decreased rates of anger, depression, and violence against women and other men. Because this isn’t about eliminating manliness or masculinity; it’s about redefining these to reflect who a man truly is, not who they pretend to be.
Through instructing men to be strong in ways that aren’t typically masculine, such as listening to and learning from women or embracing what makes them insecure, Baldoni takes the first brave steps to ending toxic masculinity and increasing the quality of life for everyone.
Photo credit: La Palme Magazine