Boys Don’t Cry

April 29, 2011

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Photo: Courtesy ofPhotostock

Stereotypes on masculinity in today’s society have told men for decades to “suck it up” and “be a man.” And while young boys are teased for being “mama’s boys” a new study presented at the American Psychological Association meeting suggests that it may be good for your mental health. Through a study published in TIME Magazinetitled “Being a Mama’s Boy; good for your health?” Carlos Santos, a professor at Arizona State University's School of Social and Family Dynamics found that adolescent boys adopted more “hyper masculine stereotypes” such as ideas on toughness and lack of emotion. Those that had developed and maintained a closer relationship with their mothers did not feel the need to act as tough and were more open with their feelings. These students in turn had better rates of mental health. Research has shown that “close emotional connections and relationships can provide a sense of safety and emotional security that can reduce stress and foster good health” while a attempting to portray a masculine façade has shown men are less likely to seek medical attention when needed.

Now this does not just apply to all men out there who are trying to avoid acquiring a “sissy” stereotype. Women should be in tune with their emotions, too. In a world where a woman’s power and professionalism can be overlooked should any signs of weakness show (i.e. emotions), many women are fighting to act tough and stand with their male counterparts. Professor Niobe Way of NYU points out that as a society "we have come to view fundamentally human attributes such as empathy, emotional skills, and the desire for intimate relationships as being girlish or gay.” Certainly upholding to such standards omits all ability to enjoy one of the most human abilities we have - to feel. Sadness, anger, joy, releasing such expression sparks a number of hormones in the brain and releases stress on the mind, body and soul. So, in the spirit of Mother’s Day, go ahead, give your mom a big hug and kiss, laugh, and even cry! Let out your emotions because after all, you are only human.

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