How art saved me from Toxic masculinity

“One can certainly masculine without having to be toxic”

As a man who fell into ‘toxic crowds’ during my younger years, this is something that I wish I would’ve been able to grasp.

My name Is Arun Kapur. I’m 30 gears of age, Wolverhampton-based, a mental health advocate, poet, and visual artist. I’m here to elaborate on my own lived experiences as a male who experienced bullying during my secondary school years because of ‘toxic masculinity.’

As well as that, I’ll be diving into how the medium of arts not only helped me discover myself and heal from the trauma of bullying, but generally saved my life.

During my secondary school years, I was very much someone who just wanted to fit in and do the right thing. I didn’t want any trouble or to cause disturbance to others.

The bullying was very much a regular occurrence and I could never ever truly understand why I was the person being picked on. I never asked for it, neither did I try to ever instigate anything.

This was my first major experience with toxic masculinity. No matter how much I wanted to express my feelings, I was continuously shunned and told not to, because; “it wasn’t manly.” I was told to “be a man and “hide your emotions” Like anyone, I needed an outlet or a way to express everything I was suppressing.

During all of this, I began to write poetry. I didn’t truly understand what I was writing at the time, but I knew it was helping. As I wrote, I then began to translate my writing towards visual art.
The medium of the arts to this day is one of the biggest reasons I am even here writing this now.

As humans, we all have different needs and ways to self-care. Though I was unable to stand up at the time, deep down I felt like I was building towards challenging these ideologies (of toxic masculinity). I was building a way to challenge the stigmas I was facing.

Since this period of my life, I’ve learned that it was all so wrong. I must make it very clear that as a man, there is NOTHING wrong with speaking up about how you feel. In fact, Speaking up about your emotions could not be any more manly. The glorification of dominance and harmful behaviour towards others is nothing to be proud of.

The point that I am trying to make is that as a male or however you may identify, it is okay to not be okay. It is okay to feel like you need time for self-care. It is okay to make time for yourself and protect your mental health.

What is NOT okay is hurting others. To belittle others via harmful behaviour. To make others feel as if they are nothing.

I am grateful that I am able to speak up finally and I hope that someone reading this, can understand that they deserve to be heard too.

We are all voices to be heard and we shall not let NONE take us down.
One love ❤

Arun is an artist, poet, film maker, and mental health advocate. Find him on Twitter HERE.

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