According to Dr Jonathan Gerkin, a psychiatrist at University of North Carolina, societal norms have not conditioned men to be reflective of their own emotions, resulting in an increased sense of loneliness. Men have historically struggled to open up, masking their weaknesses with acts of bravado, so why have they been excluded from this narrative? In a world where female pessimism is not only destigmatised, but arguably fashionable, why aren't fashion brands applying the Sad Boy formula, too?
The Sad Boy has, like the Sad Girl, existed for years on the internet. It has even become synonymous with a subgenre of rap. But it hasn’t won the same degree of mainstream adoption as its female counterpart, and still carries a certain stigma, as musician James Blake recently argued on Twitter. And while brands are experimenting with ways to express modern male emotions, advertising campaigns tend to be the preferred option, and vary from a sobbing Chris Hughes, to manifestos of modern masculinity. Yet no commercial brand has used the medium of fashion to address this topic.
Could a simple printed slogan tshirt have the ability to champion male vulnerability? Perhaps the normalisation of a melancholy Sad Boy aesthetic could make more progress than a celebrity-fronted ad. Monki's emotional clothing collection is a playful example of how women can wear their emotions on their sleeve, but if men aren't given the same option, it could continue to engender the same difficulty around speaking up.
Discover how brands are reframing male identity in post-#metoo world in our ongoing series New Masculinity.