Often told to hide away emotions, men across the world struggle in being able to feel comfortable in their own skins – and Husam hopes that these photo series are a small step in helping combat the influence of toxic masculinity.
Men Do Cry: A Photographer’s Project on Masculinity, Mental Health, and the Power of Emotion
In a powerful new project, creative photographer Husam Al-Deen spoke to TMV on “Men Do Cry”, a series of photographs capturing the act of crying from male figures. Capturing the notion of strength through something often deemed as weak or effeminate, Husam is hoping to bring to light the power of tears.
You can find his full series of photographs and more information on the project here.
Stressing the importance of being more open about mental health in wider society, especially for men, Husam explains that this project came from personal experience – and the need for men to feel safe and accepted for having mental health issues or even the need to cry:
“Particularly within my personal background and culture, being from the Middle East, I often found growing up that the idea of showing emotion for a man was seen as a weakness. Being the breadwinner and guardian of a traditional family set up, there often wasn’t a safe space for men to convey their emotions. And after speaking to many people of different cultures, I began to understand that this is a global issue. I feel that addressing this issue can ultimately help prevent possible outcomes such as violence, anger, and depression, and the horrifying number of suicide cases we see in the world today.”
Husam also explained the need for Muslim men to understand the importance of being open about mental health – oftentimes, more of a result from culture or tradition rather than religion, Muslim men are taught that crying is a sign of weakness. Explaining that by re-examining the life of the Prophet Muhammad, Husam feels that men, in particular, can benefit from knowing the power of being more open about emotions:
“Often, tradition can overpower religious principles, and for many Muslim males, the traditional idea that they must show no weakness in their household neglects religious principles and traditions. A standout tradition is the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad confiding in his wife Khadija, after receiving revelation and having unwavering support. The Prophet himself had the strength to show his wife what we would today look down upon as weakness or fear, but he exemplified the notion that opening one’s heart to those we love is a normal, and even essential part of being human.”
Shooting the photos was an eye-opening and powerful experience for himself as well, Husam states. Seeing men, from all walks of life, open up and cry on camera was an inspiring reminder to acknowledge the strength in accepting and nurturing one’s emotions. Often told to hide away emotions, men across the world struggle in being able to feel comfortable in their own skins – and Husam hopes that these photo series are a small step in helping combat the influence of toxic masculinity:
“It’s a rare thing for most men to cry in public, and an experience that is freeing, therapeutic and important – and if not for the stigma surrounding it, almost all the men I spoke to during this series would choose to cry more. Not only is there power in those who cry, but power in the empathy of those around you who see you cry. In times like these, it is more important than ever to try to change the narrative that pressures men to mask their emotions, to help those around us who may struggle to speak on their emotions.”