During National Bullying Prevention Month in October, AXE will address outdated male stereotypes and harmful labels with its high school Senior Orientation workshops. After a pilot program last year at Centennial High School in Columbus, Ohio, 81 percent of the student body said their view of masculinity evolved for the better. Co-created by rapper and actor KYLE and masculinity expert and poet Carlos Andrés Gómez, this year’s curriculum will challenge students to replace toxic behaviors like bullying and “locker-room talk” with positivity and inclusiveness. Young guys too often feel pressure to live up to certain toxic notions of masculinity that lead to unnecessarily aggressive behavior. In fact, 1 in 3 guys admit to bullying their peers, with 3 in 4 being the victims of those bullies themselves.
“Being involved in a program like this is especially important to me because of my own personal experiences growing up. I didn’t feel like I always fit in because I opted for the drama club instead of the football team. Because of this, I was perceived as being more sensitive by other kids my age. Now, these are the things that have made me the person and performer that I am today,” said KYLE. “I wish I had resources like this program when I was younger to tell me that it’s okay to be myself.”
This October, Senior Orientation will head to two high schools, both of which will be announced at a later date. This year’s program will kick off with a return visit to Centennial on Aug. 23 where student and participant in the inaugural Senior Orientation, Aria Brent, shared, “Senior Orientation inspired my school.
Senior Orientation is part of the AXE Find Your Magic Initiative which aims to break the cycle of toxic masculinity by providing guys with resources to live more freely. The brand and its partners, Promundo and Ditch the Label, work together to dive into the causes and effects of the issue, drive wider awareness among both men and women, and help provide young guys with tools to be their most authentic selves.
Rapper KYLE has teamed up with Axe for two workshops that will address toxic masculinity in high schools during National Bullying Prevention Month. Kyle touches on his struggles growing up dealing with bullying and fitting society’s standard.
I really just want to tell kids like you have to eventually one day become comfortable being yourself. You can try to hide it as long as you can being bullied but you have to become stronger than any negative thing anyone has to say about you. I got made fun of for so long, that I eventually had to learn to tune that out. I had to look at it as a super power and not look at it as a flaw but something that made me unique.
Get into our interview below.
How did you feel when AXE, reached out for the partnership to do the Two Workshops?
At first I felt like ‘wow’ I’m glad somebody is finally addressing this and overall I was just down and excited about it. This is something I’ve always had to struggle with growing up and I think it’s something that people don’t necessarily take as serious and care about. Nobody hasn’t cared enough to really do ads and marketing about this situation or help find ways to make it better as a campaign.
I really wish I had somebody that put together something like this and came to my school and talked about this because this is something I didn’t even hear the word ‘Toxic Masculinity’ until a year and a half ago maybe two years ago. My entire childhood life and as my young adult life was spent battling these type of issues. The conformity of just trying to be something I’m not. This is a very bad example of a dude, it’s crazy because we let this run on for so long because
all of these things we’re supposed to be ‘This tough guy, ‘ emotionless individual. We wonder why it’s so many problems with these men today we pretty much tell them anything like being caring, being sensitive, being kind, being vulnerable, being gentle all these things we pretty much tell them are like unmanly or at least to me growing up, I thought that.
I very much thought that growing up and I was ashamed because that’s how I felt on the inside. I felt kind, I felt vulnerable, I felt gentle, I felt caring but that never felt like what a man was suppose to be. I thought I was suppose to have like hella muscles and be blowing s*** up. That’s literally what I thought.
How cool is it to be returning home to your Alma-mater?
It’s hella cool. It’s amazing because I really feel like I’m helping more than anything because I know first hand the experience of not only being a young man dealing with this in high-school but I know what it’s like to deal with it at this high-school specifically. I’ve walked through those same halls and carried that wave of being shy and bullied for all the wrong reasons. So I think it’s specifically going to hit home for me when I’m addressing these kids about a very pivotal time in their life. Because I went through that pivotal time in my life in those exact same seats with them.
What words of encouragement do you offer kids being bullied everyday?
I really just want to tell kids like you have to eventually one day become comfortable being yourself. You can try to hide it as long as you can being bullied but you have to become stronger than any negative thing anyone has to say about you. I got made fun of for so long, that I eventually had to learn to tune that out. I had to look at it as a super power and not look at it as a flaw but something that makes me unique. I really want kids who get bullied to understand
that ‘hurt people, hurt people’ so whoever is bulling you and has something negative to say it’s because they’re trying to fill a negative void that they have inside of them. Take anything that somebody is trying to make fun of you about or downplay you about and learn to love it. You have to learn to love every aspect of who you are. You have to learn to love yourself, love all the things that come with that, you have to love where you’re from, everything. The sooner you can do that, the safer you will be forever. Bullying is scary we don’t want to be bullied, we want to avoid it. We want to be safe. The safest way to be is confident. In order to be confident you have to be accepting of yourself.
You will be doing the Two Workshops with Carlos Andres. How will be getting to work with an expert of masculinity?
He’s an expert he knows much more about this and will give us great conversation during our discussion. I think it’s an awesome thing to have someone there that will be sharing their experiences with it. Every single person is unique in my experience he may help a certain demographic and somebody elses experience can help somebody else. I think this is something all men everywhere should be talking about. I guarantee you 90% of us in some sort of way are hiding something or masking something to better fit the stereotype of what being a man is about. Some part of that is having a negative effect on us as a whole. The more men to join in on the conversation the better.
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