Men have long been told they need to be strong, tough, and emotionally reserved to be "manly." Maybe those qualities aren't necessarily negative, but they can still be damaging—look at phrases like "real men don't cry" and "man up." Those don't exactly set great examples.
This is why we're so excited about Lululemon's new "Strength to Be" campaign. By highlighting a diverse group of men who are strong in nontraditional ways, Lululemon is breaking down stereotypes and proving there is no standard or measurement for strength. We're all physically and mentally strong in different ways.
"Strength to Be" is all about honoring individuality and empowering men to be themselves, whoever that may be. It's a big step toward redefining what fitness success looks like for men—because it's more than looking ripped and acting tough. And since we buy into the identities brands sell more often than we'd like to admit, it's not just a big step—it's an important one.
Through a series of five short films, Lululemon's campaign showcases the stories of five men: John Joseph, Ibn Ali Miller, Ojay Morgan, Mark Healey, and Orlando Cruz. The men all come from different backgrounds and upbringings—what unites them is their shared commitment to living active lives that defy stereotypes about masculinity.
Orlando Cruz is a Puerto Rican championship boxer who competed in the 2000 Olympics. He was the first professional fighter to come out as gay, and because of that, he was one of the first people ever inducted into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame. This is his story:
Mark Healy is an award-winning spear-fisherman, free-diver, and surfer. He's also an environmental activist who uses photography and film to help people better understand the ocean and its inhabitants.
This notion that we already have all the strength we need is really refreshing to hear. It's also great to see Lululemon finally breaking out of its women-only box. (Though it started selling menswear in early 2014 with the infamous Anti-Ball Crushing pant, this is its first campaign targeted exclusively at men.)
If "Strength to Be" is any indication of what's to come from Lulu and other men's fitness brands, we're excited to see what happens when the tough-guy stereotype finally fades away. Celebrating our own unique identities is something we should all be doing all the time—whether or not we're men, and whether or not we're wearing Lululemon.