Actor Adnan Malik recently appeared on a talk show to talk about the roles society, family and popular culture play in perpetuating toxic masculinity, leading to unaddressed issues of mental health and well-being amongst men.
On the talk show The Coffee Table on Indus News, Malik highlighted how problematic toxic masculinity is. It's the idea that men are supposed to be tough and competitive and often, this notion is instilled within boys from a very early age.
"When we come into this world, it is all very instant," said Malik. "Boys like blue, girls like pink. Boys need to play with boys. Men are not supposed to be sensitive. It starts at a very early age at school where an older person bullies you for being sensitive and that's where the process starts and it kind of persists throughout your life."
Malik spoke about how society has a standard that men are expected to meet in life. "You are not supposed to be emotional or sensitive," he said. "You are supposed to be really competitive and do the job that needs to be done and provide for your family and the women in your life. It is a very claustrophobic and tight container which causes a lot of mental health issues."
The actor talked about how a lot of men live society's interpretation of perfection yet are still dissatisfied. "It is this dissatisfaction that's causing all kinds of coping mechanisms that are unhealthy," said Malik. "Even in our society we see addictions of alcohol and drugs and even food. Food can be an addiction. Love and sex addiction. Unhealthy attachment to parents that haven't really let go.
"Ultimately, it build up to a point where there is a real mental health issue, where anxiety comes in, where depression comes in, where there are communication issues with family, where you are really unhappy but you can't show it," he said.
For Malik, healthy masculinity is the perfect balance of masculine and feminine traits that are found in men and women alike. "Everyone is on a spectrum of masculinity and femininity and everyone should be as they are," he said. "Do self parenting. Ask who am I and what are the values that are important to me and not what someone else thinks.
"It is okay to change and it is okay to connect with the women in your life, also honour them."