New Masculinity: Latin America

category - gender
category - new masculinity
category - society
type - market focus
Market Focus
Representations of men in Latin America are in flux as new idols, peers and a nascent set of brands work to shift narratives around masculinity

For years, macho idealisation has reigned in the Latin American (LATAM) market, where the performance of toughness and overt sexism have been considered markers of masculinity.

‘The patriarchy and sexism helped men, but also created a series of emotional anguishes,’ explains professor Claudio Serva, founder of Prazerele, whose classes are dedicated to rethinking masculinity. Indeed, LATAM men have long avoided discussing their emotions or crying in public. Instead, they have exerted physical strength and sexual dominance to signify their role as providers and protectors of their families.

Now, however, representations of men are in flux. New idols, peers and a nascent set of brands are working to shift narratives around masculinity, using beauty and wellbeing as their conduit. This is helping LATAM men to connect with their aesthetics and feelings, deconstructing and co-creating what it means to be a man now and in the future.

Keeping up appearances

While LATAM men are embarking on a journey of self-reflection, for many it remains critical to be sleek in appearance at all times. In Brazil, this means keeping their hair ‘na régua’ – or sharply shaped. In Colombia, the desire to keep up appearances translates into having manicured, subtly shiny nails.

In order to ensure their grooming remains up to par, many LATAM men are turning to subscription services – a concept that the Western beauty and grooming sector has been slow to embrace but offers a way to build loyalty. Examples include Brazil’s John Six Barber Shop and Natu’s Club, where customers pay a monthly fee ranging from £14.50 ($19.30, €17) for haircuts to £17 ($23, €20) for hair and beard trims.

Nail care is also helping to change masculinity narratives. As Puerto Rican rapper and idol Bad Bunny explains: ‘Que le ponga un poco de color a mis uñas no dice nada de mi sexualidad ni de mi masculinidad,’ – ‘That I add a little colour to my nails does not say anything about my sexuality or my masculinity.’ Best known for his painted nails and bold dress, Bad Bunny has been vocal about not limiting oneself by aesthetics. He preaches respect above all, and has become a welcome figure among the global LGBTQ+ community.

Published by:

24 January 2022

Author: Carmela Vecchione at Box1824

Image: Gleeson Paulino's work captures L'Homme Statue's vulnerability and rebirth, Brazil


The Calm Line was launched to address Colombia’s machismo

Emotional educators

When it comes to perceptions and emotions, ideals of masculinity continue to affect how men actually feel about themselves and others. A poll of 20,000 Brazilian men by lifestyle and education platform Papo de Homem shows that 72% of respondents have been taught not to show any weaknesses.

A growing number of initiatives are now emerging to deconstruct ingrained attitudes and help men to embrace and face their vulnerabilities. In Colombia, Bogotá’s culture office has launched Calm Line, a hotline fighting violence against women, which encourages men to call and speak to psychologists to better understand and control their emotions and actions. In its first 10 months, almost 2,000 men called in. Similarly, Grupo Reflexivo de Homens – the Male Reflection Group – is a behavioural ‘rehab’ service for men fined by law after offences against women. The programme's male participants discuss their role in society, using it as an educational space for men to unlearn their toxic beliefs, start afresh and carry forward a new perspective.

Elsewhere, private consultancy MEMOH – a play on ‘memo’ and ‘homem’ – seeks to promote gender equity in corporate environments, giving companies and their employees access to similar ‘reflective groups’ that promote conversations on healing and evolving attitudes. So far, MEMOH has worked with Netflix, Facebook, Ambev, among other companies in Brazil.

‘It is essential that [men] begin to take responsibility for machismo and the effects of patriarchy’
João Luiz Marques, researcher of masculinity psychology

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