John Legend Teams Up With Axe To Help Teen Boys Redefine Masculinity

Taking on toxic masculinity.

Singer John Legend and poet Carlos Andrés Gómez are teaming up with Axe for "Senior Orientation" to help teen boys redefine masculinity as what it means to them. The initiative will connect both artists with a group of senior boys in high school in Columbus, Ohio.


The "All of You" crooner made the announcement via social media on August 24, explaining that the program "inspires young guys to embrace and express their true selves and remind all there's no one way to 'be a man!' "

Per Hello Giggles, Legend and Gómez, who developed the Senior Orientation program, will act as mentors to the teens and help them create an artistic performance, which will be shown at an event this fall.

This initiative falls in line with Axe's recent attempts at ending toxic masculinity in its advertising and in our culture, a sharp turn for a brand that once celebrated male stereotypes. Back in May, the body spray company launched a new campaign that asks "Is It Ok For Guys?" which, in part, illustrates how guys privately struggle with masculinity.

Adweek reports the campaign is based in research that found 59 percent of men believe they should act strong even if they feel scared, and nearly 50 percent of men think they shouldn't ask for help with their problems. As Axe pointed out in a press release, this internal struggle many men face "can contribute to bullying, violence and even suicide." 

The new, empowering message struck a chord with Legend, which is why he opted to get involved with Senior Orientation.

"It's encouraging creativity, encouraging individuality, rejecting things like bullying and behaviors that belittle other people," Legend tells Mashable of his idea of inclusive masculinity. "I think [fear] is the case with a lot of toxic masculinity. It's fear of powerlessness, fear of being replaced or displaced or not being dominant and then lashing out in a way that is violent." 

The socially conscious Grammy winner even connected the idea of toxic masculinity to the recent deadly events in Charlottesville, Va., explaining, "I think there's some sense of grievance that you see particularly with those who are marching in Charlottesville where they feel like something's been taken from them and they're trying in the most heinous ways and the most toxic ways to reclaim some position in society."

With Senior Orientation, Legend and Gómez hope to arm young men with the tools they need to define masculinity on their own terms instead of being intimidated or influenced by societal norms. 

"I think so many young people are figuring out who they want to be," the 38-year-old concludes. "The more we encourage young men to love themselves and love who they are and be confident in themselves, they won't need to bully anybody and they won't need to belittle other people to feel good about themselves."


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.