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Guy teaches little brother 'duties as a man' in sweet video.

Families often have different ages that they teach children about a big life topics. Some conversations are bigger than others, but generally speaking they're had with the best of intentions. Anish Bhagatt felt like the time was finally right to teach his younger brother, Dhruva, his "duties as a man." The little boy had just turned 12, so certain talks needed to be had and Bhagatt felt he was best suited for the job.

The older brother picked Dhruva up from school to take him on his journey to manhood. From the look on the little boy's face, he knew he was in for a treat hanging out with his older brother. This may not have been the chat he was expecting, but the boy soaked up the knowledge eagerly.

Bhagatt started the video by saying, "So Dhruva, you're a big man now," before the little boy happily interjects stating, "Yes, I'm 12!"


Immediately the conversation shifted into a direction that surprised commenters. Instead of launching into a talk about the birds and the bees, Bhagatt asked if his younger brother knows about periods, which did not come with any of the stereotypical middle school boy disgust. Dhruva was engaged as his brother explained what periods were and why women have menstrual cycles. He even showed the preteen how to purchase sanitary products. People were impressed.

"This is healing generations of silence and toxicity. Well done, gentlemen," one woman says.

"The fact that it was his BROTHER that took him to go buy sanitary pads. Not his mom, not a sister. His brother. This is what good male role models are like," another writes.

"Ok guys, this is what people mean when they say healthy masculinity! Big bro is a Saint, and little bro is so sweet and compassionate! I am amazed and thrilled that people like this exist," someone else gushes.

"I am literally CRYING right now! Oh my gracious… these young folks will save us," a commenter cries.

The video is beyond wholesome and may serve as an example of what it looks like to educate young boys on what half the population goes through. In the end the boy declares, "I promise that I will make all the girls around me feel safe," and if he keeps having these kinds of chats, there's no doubt that he will do just that.

Actor and filmmaker Justin Baldoni is a heartthrob, in pretty much every sense of the word. Best known for his role of the handsome and sensitive Rafael Solano on the TV series Jane the Virgin, Baldoni has spent a good portion of his acting career playing the role of a guy who makes women swoon when he takes off his shirt. In real life, he's known for being a deep and thoughtful man—who is also handsome, and yes, looks good with his shirt off—making him seem like the quintessential man-who-has-it-all.

That's why Baldoni's struggles with his own body might come as a surprise to many people.

Baldoni opens up about his body image issues in his new book, "Man Enough: Undefining My Masculinity." In fact, he shares that he's spent much of his life suffering from body dysmorphia—a psychological disorder in which people have a distorted perception of a part of their body, where they see something different in the mirror than what other people see.


For Baldoni, it started when he was young and being teased by guys for being too skinny. While he'd always been an athlete, he started hitting the weight room in high school—hard. "I became obsessed with gaining muscle," he wrote. Though he ended up gaining 25 pounds of muscle, it wasn't enough.

"It was never enough," he wrote. "When I looked in the mirror, I didn't see what everyone else saw. I didn't see a teenager who was so jacked that he was accused of being on steroids. I didn't see the six-pack. When I looked in the mirror, I still saw the skinny kid whose abs weren't visible enough, whose shoulders didn't fill out his shirts enough, who should probably try harder and put in more hours to gain more muscle. Wake up earlier. Push harder. Be better. It's never enough and never will be."

Now he's 37, and though he thought he'd moved past those insecurities, he admits found himself anxious on the set of Jane the Virgin whenever he was going to be shirtless in a scene. He was grateful to be working and making money as an actor, but playing "the hot guy" came at a cost. He would resort to extreme dieting and exercise leading up to shirtless shoots, and he would even use props to hide parts of his body he felt self-conscious about. And getting support was tricky. Here's a guy with a physique many would pay good money to have, and he's feeling self-conscious?

In a confusing bit of irony, Baldoni came to realize that the roles he'd taken on had perpetuated the problem he himself was experiencing. "On the one hand, in my personal life I was beginning this journey to (hopefully) find a level of body acceptance that I had never known," he wrote, "but on the other hand, I was taking off my shirt on TV and literally creating the same images that triggered my insecurities as a boy."

"I'm tired. I'm so damn tired of it," he added. "I'm part of the problem, and I'm also suffering, and those two things are not exclusive. So at the very least can we start talking about it?"

I did talk to him about it this week in an interview about his book. When I asked about his body image issues, Baldoni pointed out that women deal with body image issues on a whole other level than men do, and he doesn't want him talking about his own issues to detract from that. But he also points out that the same system that creates that baggage for women also hurts men.

"Women struggle with this on far greater levels because of, I believe, the patriarchal system we live in," he says. "And the objectification, and the way that we have propagated women's bodies as objects instead of people...women have been struggling with this for so much longer because men have reduced women to their bodies and we use bodies to sell."

"The male body image thing is a little trickier to unpack," he says, "mostly because it doesn't have anything to do with women. It's the same system. What I've learned is that so many of the men I know who struggle with their body image don't struggle with their body image because they want to impress women. They struggle with their body image because they want to be accepted and respected by men."

"Women are being oppressed and sexualized and objectified by men, and men are also suffering in a similar way silently, because of the exact same system," he says. "It hurts all of us."

Having conversations about hard-to-talk-about elements of manhood is what "Man Enough" is all about. Baldoni calls the book "a love letter to men," and an invitation to explore the elements of the male experience that are often thought of as taboo or shameful or embarrassing or not "manly" enough to talk about.

Much of the book is about Baldoni's relationships—with his body, with his parents, with his peers, with his wife and kids, with his faith, and with himself—and how the scripts of masculinity that have been passed down for generations can impact and influence those relationships. He doesn't use the term "toxic masculinity," because he feels that it's been too politicized. But he does get into the ways in which certain traditions and messages of masculinity have hurt both women and men, and how he has learned to unpack what it means to be a man in order to embrace who he is without having to prove anything about his manhood.

Baldoni calls it a long, slow journey from his head to his heart, one in which he is learning to take off the armor, take off the mask (figuratively, not literally), and be all of the various parts of himself that are genuine without feeling like any of them diminish him as a man. Ultimately, the journey leads to knowing that he is enough, just as he is.

"The messages of masculinity will tell me over and over again that I need to be better or different," he wrote, "that I need to conform to be worthy. They'll tell me to acquire more success, confidence, muscles, women, social status—you name it, I will always need more. But my heart? My heart will simply say, 'I am enough,' over and over again."

Family

Here's to the stepdads who step in and step up to fatherhood.

Happy Father's Day to all the stellar stepdads.

Some fathers are there at the starting line. And some fathers step in partway through the race.

My biological dad left my mom when I was a toddler. I don't even remember living with him, and my memories of weekend visits throughout my early childhood are vague. He loved me, I'm sure, but he eventually slipped off the radar. He wasn't abusive or a massive jerk or anything. He just wasn't there.


Who was there was my Dad. My stepdad, technically, but for all intents and purposes, he was and is my Dad. He stepped in when I was four, and stepped up to raise two kids who weren't his. He went to the parent-teacher conferences, attended the school plays, surprised us with trips to the ice cream shop, taught us how to change a tire. He loved us, not just in word but in action.

As a parent myself, I now understand how hard it must have been to step into that role. Step-parenting involves unique relationship dynamics, and you have to figure a lot of things out as you go along.

My Dad had his own demons from his own childhood to deal with on top of that, and his cycle-breaking parenting still awes me. But he was always there to cheer me on, comfort me, and talk me through life's challenges. He wasn't perfect, but he was there, actively engaged in the marathon of fatherhood every step of the way.

Stepparents are often vilified in stories, but there are millions of awesome stepdads out there.

Without a doubt there are some terrible stepdads (and stepmoms) out there, just as there are some terrible parents in general. But there are a lot of great ones, too.

Alison Tedford's 11-year-old son Liam is lucky to have such a stepdad. Liam shares his time between his mom's and dad's house equally, but when he is with his mom, he's also with his stepdad, Paul. Alison says that Liam adores Paul, who stepped into the stepdad role when Liam was 7. Paul spent the first couple of years carrying Liam to bed every night, per Liam's request. Now that he's too big for that, they practice lacrosse and play video games together.

"To support Liam in his love of lacrosse, Paul took a lacrosse coaching course and is the team statistics manager," says Tedford. "They are best buds and Paul treats him with all the love and kindness he does his own kids. He drives him all sorts of places, goes on field trips, and makes sure he has everything he needs and is having fun. He's a really great stepdad."

These aren't the kinds of stories that make the news. But millions of stepdads dive into supportive, involved parenting as they fall in love with their loved ones' kids.

Having a stepparent is now about as common as not having one.

According to the US Census Bureau, half of the 60 million kids in the U.S. live with a biological parent and the parent's partner. And the most common stepfamily configuration—85% of them—is a mom, her biological kids, and a stepfather. That's a whole lot of stepdads.

Blending families can be complicated, and figuring out how to navigate those waters isn't easy. But family counselor and researcher Joshua Gold calls becoming a stepdad both "a challenge and an opportunity."

"The challenge comes in rejecting previously held beliefs about what it means to be a father," Gold wrote in The Conversation. "Stepfathers – and I count myself as one – must avoid outmoded notions of compensating for the absent biological father or paternal dominance."

"The opportunity comes in devising a parenting role that expresses the best and fullest aspects of being a man and a father figure," he wrote. "Done consciously and deliberately, the role and function of the stepfather can be tremendously fulfilling for all, and a source of lifelong joy and pride."

Here's to the stepdads who step into that role, step up to the challenge, and make the most of the opportunity to have a positive, nurturing influence in children's lives.

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Crews showed his bravery in sharing his own #MeToo story. It turns out his own awakening started much earlier.

In October 2017, the actor made headlines when he opened up about having been sexually harassed by a Hollywood producer years earlier. It was an incredibly powerful moment that both showed the complexities of the #MeToo movement and helped bring more men into the fold as allies.

But it turns out Crews wasn't always such an evolved guy. He says that back in 2009, his wife nearly left him because of his own toxic masculinity, shaped by a lifetime of distorted ideas that influenced his beliefs in what it meant to be a man.


“As a man, I was taught that I was more valuable than my wife and kids," he said. "That’s deep — and I didn’t even realize it until I dissected it.”

[rebelmouse-image 19398275 dam="1" original_size="1024x683" caption="Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr." expand=1]Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr.

He knew he needed help and was strong enough to ask for it.

Crews said he sought professional treatment for an addiction to pornography and went through therapy to begin a path of self-reflection. Over time, the former NFL star and his wife Rebecca King-Crews reunited and they remain together.

“My wife has always brought the wisdom,” he said. “I truly believe you don’t see your own faults. There were so many times I just knew I was right and my wife was like, ‘Uhh uhh.’”

When it comes to unraveling his own past distorted views of masculinity, Crews wasn't shy about what he now thinks. "It’s a cult no different than Jim Jones or David Koresh,” he said.

In a separate interview, Crews offered some simple but poignant advice for men as they trudge through their own attempts to grapple cultural pressures and norms. “Don’t speak for women," he said. "Hold other men accountable.”

The response from other men has been mostly positive but there's also been a noticeable silence from other actors.

In March 2018, Crews shared an encouraging letter he received from Old Spice, in which employees at the company offered their support in response to Crews speaking out about his own #MeToo experience.

However, he also noted the deafening silence from his male co-stars in "The Expendables" film series, alleging that one of the film's producers even tried pressuring him into being silent over the issue of sexual assault.

There's nothing wrong with being masculine. But real strength comes from vulnerability and personal growth.

Men like Crews and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson show us that the concept of masculinity is more complex than most people think.

As a former athlete and physically imposing action star, there's nothing passive about Terry Crews. This is a man who has literally made people laugh by repeatedly screaming at the camera in his hilarious Old Spice commercials.

But much like when The Rock recently opened up about his own struggles with depression, these decidedly masculine men are showing the world, especially other guys, that there's a difference between being strong and being toxic.