Schoolboys in Australia are learning about toxic masculinity by painting their nails at a new mental health workshop.
The workshop, Tomorrow Man, encourages men to see that painted nails are just that - painted nails - rather than a display of femininity.
“As part of the build-up to this activity, we get the young lads to show us their hands. Often you can tell a lot from someone’s hands,” Tomorrow Man’s Josh writes on Instagram.
“One lad had a massive pair of mitts, callused and permanently smeared with dirt; the hands of a farmer. We painted his nails bright pink. He told the group how uncomfortable he would feel with painted nails. He was heading into the markets on the weekend and was sure he’d get some weird looks.”
Josh explained how the young lad burst into tears after being encouraged to talk about something that made him proud, which was when his dad told him he was excited to see him becoming the man of the family.
“This was tough,” he continued. “I thought about how much the strong and silent stereotype robs men from sharing these poetically beautiful moments, and each blokes epic stories. I have the opportunity to reassure young men that it’s more than okay to open up and show emotion, and lucky for me I also get to see and hear all the benefits of this.”
Boys who participate in this exercise are encouraged to see if they can wear the nail polish for two weeks. They are also encouraged to discuss their feelings and emotions and learn about suicide during the workshop.
The group also run other workshops and programmes to try and lessen the impact of gender stereotypes for men.