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‘Fairly Boys’ writer David Yi on male magnificence and seven cultural choices that redefine masculinity

Written by Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

Retaining you within the know, Tradition Queue is an ongoing collection of suggestions for well timed books to learn, movies to observe, and podcasts and music to hearken to.

Famed historical Greek ruler and army mastermind Alexander the Nice had a ardour for fragrances. France’s King Louis XIV sported glittering heels and made voluminous wigs trendy. Vikings, typically remembered for his or her rugged masculinity, had intensive hair grooming routines.

Curiosity in males’s magnificence was socially acceptable earlier than it turned taboo, and, as David Yi notes in his new e-book “Fairly Boys,” it’s now reemerging after a protracted hiatus. Trendy, Western concepts of masculinity took root in Enlightenment-era Europe and continued throughout the pond in America, Yi recounts, and pursuits in cosmetics, trend and grooming turned more and more aligned with femininity, queerness and immorality — and even criminalized for males in some instances.

Now, the pendulum is swinging again once more.

'Pretty Boys' author David Yi.

‘Fairly Boys’ writer David Yi. Credit score: Sarah Yun

“Relating to males’s magnificence, attitudes of masculinity have shifted,” Yi stated in an e-mail interview, pointing to stars like Unhealthy Bunny, Harry Types, Frank Ocean or boy band BTS. “Not can we subscribe to the concept males must be stoic, or hypermasculine to outlive in our capitalistic, Western world. Somewhat, males and their masculinities might be expansive.”

Yi is the founding father of gender-inclusive magnificence media model Very Good Mild, and “Fairly Boys” is one-half complete historical past of masculine magnificence — together with historical Egyptian ruler Ramses the Nice and the “queen of queens” RuPaul — and one-half ideas and strategies for methods to get their appears to be like.

Wanting again at well-known males all through historical past, Yi stated, “Typically instances, it is their brute drive or bodily energy that is celebrated in historical past books and never their magnificence that’s amplified. I’ve questioned why that is and it has the whole lot to do with historians being afraid to inform tales of highly effective males and their ‘softer’ sides as if that makes them have any much less company.”

“I wished to place the facetious time period, ‘fairly boy’ on its head and have fun males who channeled their inside and outer beauties to alter the world,” he added. “They show that really, fairly is fairly highly effective!”

Yi supplied the next checklist of his favourite issues to hearken to, learn and watch to have fun boy magnificence.

Add to queue: Redefining masculinity

Watch: “The King and the Clown” (2005)

This South Korean flick a few Joseon-era king who falls in love with a court docket jester turned a field workplace sensation and an tailored play. “The themes of affection, longing, and homosexuality made this (film) a dialog starter,” Yi stated. “It was the primary fashionable movie (in Korea) to debate masculinity outdoors the confines of Korean hypermachoism, offering a glimpse into extra liberal themes for a really conservative South Korea within the mid-aughts.”

Hear: “Strawberries & Cigarettes” by Troye Sivan (2018)

Yi additionally recommends Troye Sivan’s 2018 single a few same-sex relationship coming to a detailed. “The sluggish, synth-pop track normalizes younger love whereas additionally hitting upon themes of loss and a relationship’s finish,” Yi stated. “The track went viral in Asia due to BTS’s chief, RM, writing the way it was one in all his favourite songs that 12 months.”

Watch: “Minding the Hole” (2018)

The documentary follows three skater boys in Illinois who bond over skateboarding as they “navigate their painful teenage years,” Yi stated. “Every has to confront the masculinity that is been compelled upon them, and the documentary finally showcases how younger males are conditioned to be a sure approach by their environments.”

Learn: “Lady” from the e-book “The way to Write an Autobiographical Novel” by Alexander Chee (2018)

This essay, by Korean American author Alexander Chee in his debut anthology, explores “the fun and euphoria that goes into dressing up in femme apparel,” Yi stated. “‘Lady’ is concerning the freedom that comes with a younger queer particular person proudly owning their femininity and the facility that comes with it.”

Hear: “Montero (Name Me By Your Identify)” by Lil Nas X (2021)

The one — and accompanying music video — “Montero” was a direct hit for its queer and hell-raising spirit. “Unabashedly homosexual, Lil Nas X’s devilish and scrumptious single explores masculinity, manhood, and many intercourse,” Yi stated. “The Gen Z artist bares himself on this catchy, addictive mass pop track that is out, proud, and loud.”

Learn: “Freaks and the American Ideally suited of Manhood” by James Baldwin (1985)

Baldwin penned this essay for a 1985 situation of Playboy, discussing “American manhood, misguided masculinity, and all subjects we as a tradition are simply coming round to in 2021,” Yi defined. “The late author was and is the blueprint in the case of delving into fashionable American masculinity.”

Watch: “Intercourse Training” (2019-)

In redefining masculinity, Yi says “Gen Z is already forward of the curve.” He factors to this Netflix dramedy, about an adolescent who turns into an unintended (and unliscensed) intercourse therapist at his highschool, as the proper instance. “In (the present), younger males discover their sexualities in such a wholesome, normalized trend that is compelling, actual, and provoking,” Yi stated.


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