A Man’s World—and a Man’s Health

Trends / Wellness
Gabrielle Pedro Fredrick
Dec 14, 2023
In the ‘60s, James Brown told us that it was a man’s man’s man’s world. But from the politics of masculinity1 to shifts in gender expression2, we’re in a pivotal time of cultural shift. Amidst a growing male mental health crisis3, admittedly, it’s hard being a man right now.

Success starts with health
Our consumer survey finds that nearly half of men believe that a successful life is one in which physical, mental, and emotional needs are being met. Sound familiar?

Health (noun).
"The condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit." 
‑ Merriam‑Webster Dictionary4

Men want to be healthy—simple enough. If a man’s success is inherently rooted in his health, visuals can demonstrate an understanding of these different facets—especially outside of the workplace. Yet in popular imagery, men are more likely to be seen at work than any other scenario. If men are over five times more likely to be seen at work than at home, we exclude a variety of life experiences that allow us to connect with them.
For example, despite CDC reports that over a quarter of men are regularly active5, we rarely see men in popular advertising imagery engaging in exercise. Our own research finds that 9 out of 10 men would like to see more support for those with mental health issues, especially as 44% of men have self‑reported as currently struggling with their mental health lately. When we look at popular visuals, only 1% feature men in scenarios pertaining to mental health care or wellness, and they’re likely to be alone.

Health in everyday moments
Demonstrating an understanding of men’s health doesn’t need to be limited to exercise and doctor’s visits or struggling with their mental health. A trip to the grocery stores or getting ready for the day fulfills physical needs. Emotional fulfillment can be found celebrating personal relationships—especially with other men, as male‑only friendships are very rarely featured in marketing imagery—or even forms of self‑expression, such as clothing.
Health of the mind could be expressed through personal or group hobbies or something as simple as self‑care, like shaving or taking a midday nap. Highlighting authentic, everyday moments can capture that nuanced understanding of men’s health and lives. In the midst of seeking success, half of men in the US report needing to make a change in their lives. Whether it’s a focus on physical health, seeking help for mental health issues, or better connecting with their people in their lives or establishing a work/life balance—visuals can help affirm that it’s okay to do so while showing empathy and consideration of the male experience.
Works Cited
1) The Crisis Over American Manhood Is Really Code for Something Else (Politico)
2) Subversive? Dangerous? Boring?: How the red carpet became a barometer for modern masculinity (The Independent)
3) A silent crisis in men’s health gets worse (The Washington Post)
4) "health" (Merriam‑Webster Dictionary)
5) Men's Health (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
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