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jessica chastain

Expressing your emotions is a perfectly normal and healthy part of the human experience. But far too many boys and men feel as though their identity as a male depends on upholding both a tough exterior and interior — void of feelings and tears.

Actress Jessica Chastain wants that to change. Because to her, lives truly do depend on it. And the stats back her up.

In a tweet shared on April 29, the Hollywood A-lister called on all of us to challenge the stereotypes and expectations associated with masculinity — starting with one particularly harmful phrase.


"Can we please eliminate the phrase, 'Stop crying. Be a man'?" the actress wrote. "The old fashioned stereotype doesn't work."

Chastain then highlighted an alarming reality: More men die by suicide than women.

As she pointed out in her tweet citing data collected by the CDC, 121 Americans, on average, die by suicide each day — and 93 of them are men.

Men are far less likely to reach out for help if they're experiencing mental health issues. Many advocates argue there's a clear link between toxic masculinity — a set of attitudes that suggest men should be assertive and dominant, not emotional or vulnerable — and the fact men are over 3.5 times more likely to die by suicide than women.

It's a topic comedian Michael Ian Black recently explored at length in a New York Times op-ed, where he argued rigid gender norms are exacerbating America's gun violence problem:

"Too many boys are trapped in the same suffocating, outdated model of masculinity, where manhood is measured in strength, where there is no way to be vulnerable without being emasculated, where manliness is about having power over others. They are trapped, and they don’t even have the language to talk about how they feel about being trapped, because the language that exists to discuss the full range of human emotion is still viewed as sensitive and feminine."

We need to get better at allowing boys and men to be emotional, feel seen, and be comfortable opening up. We need to get better at allowing boys and men to be human.

"Let's cherish the vulnerabilities of men," Chastain wrote in her tweet. "Their lives depend on it."

If you need help, don't hesitate to reach out and get it. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or learn more here.

There's something about actress Jessica Chastain you wouldn't necessarily pick up on while watching her on the big screen or gracing red carpets.

She's shy. (Like really, truly shy.)

Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images.


“I’m almost having a breakdown right now,” she admitted to James Lipton recently during an interview on "Inside the Actors Studio."

"You’re still shy?” he asked her.

“Yes, I’m so shy,” she answered.

To her biggest fans, her shyness may not be news. She's talked publicly about it before.

As Chastain explained to Chelsea Handler on "Chelsea" earlier this year (emphasis added):

"[Being on a movie set] is less intimidating to me than social circumstances. This weekend, I went to a party — it was Katy Perry’s party — and I was just like, ‘Why am I at this party? I’m not as cool as these people, and at some point they’re going to realize that I shouldn’t be here.’ But I feel like, on a film set, 'OK, I have a reason to be here.'"

​Photo by Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images.

Chastain's shyness may be surprising for a couple reasons.

For one, she doesn't seem like someone who's shy. She's an Academy Award-nominated actress who's owned the silver screen in blockbusters like "The Martian" and had us cracking up in "The Help." How can such a Hollywood A-lister be shy?

She's also wildly successful. And shyness isn't something we necessarily associate with successful people.

But maybe we should.

​Photo by Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images.

As Chastain's career proves, being shy isn't a death sentence for ambitions. In fact, it could be just the opposite.

While shyness may be a hinderance to a person's success in some ways — like feeling nervous about meeting new people at a networking event, for instance — people who are shy tend to have other strengths in their corner.

Shy people tend to be great listeners and, thus, total rockstars when it comes to observing the world around them. As Greatist points out, research suggests people are more productive and creative when they're able to work privately — often a preference for shy and introverted folks (introversion and shyness are different, by the way). And on the more personal side, shy people are more likely to report having a "rich, complex inner life" too.

Whoever said shyness is a weakness clearly wasn't paying close enough attention.

There are many reasons to feel quite all right with being shy. But, according to Chastain, that should never stop you from living your life out loud.

Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“You don’t know if you just don't do it," she told Handler. "If you’re feeling shy or feeling whatever, just throw yourself out there.And maybe it actually changes who you are."