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Nail painting workshop helps teach Aussie schoolboys about toxic masculinity

By Emma Hobday | 25 July 2021 | Feature

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Tomorrow Man, which facilitates workshops to break male stereotypes and support Australian men, has encouraged boys to see that painted nails are just that – painted nails – rather than a display of femininity.

Within one workshop to ‘disrupt stereotypes and build emotional muscle’, Tomorrow Man’s Josh Ward urged schoolboys to show their hands. “One lad had a massive pair of mitts, callused and permanently smeared with dirt; the hands of a farmer,” Josh wrote on Instagram. “We painted his nails bright pink.⁠ He told the group how uncomfortable he would feel with painted nails. He was heading into the markets at the weekend and was sure he’d get some weird looks.⁠”

Josh revealed that the young boy began to cry after he was asked to tell the group of something that made him proud, which was when his dad told him he was excited to see him becoming the man of the family. His dad was getting older, and he and his son joked about him not being able to work as hard as he used to.

“That was tough,” Josh continued. “I thought about how much the strong and silent stereotype robs men from sharing these beautiful moments. I have the opportunity to reassure young men that it’s more than okay to open up and show emotion, and I get to see and hear all the benefits of this.”

The boys see if they can wear the nail polish for two weeks, while also being encouraged to discuss their feelings and emotions in the workshop.

Tomorrow Man also run other workshops and programmes to try and lessen the impact of gender stereotypes for men. You can follow Tomorrow Man on Instagram and Facebook.

In other nail painting news, nine year old Esme is fighting acute myeloid leukaemia after sadly being diagnosed in March 2021. Along with her dad Richard, the pair have launched ‘Esme’s Man-icure Challenge’ to help raise money for Young Lives vs Cancer.

The challenge was born through Esme painting Richard’s nails in bold and bright colours to bring a smile to her face and help raise her spirits during intensive rounds of chemotherapy. The duo are now encouraging others to paint the nails of male friends and family members to help raise money for the charity. You can read more here.

To donate to Esme and Richard’s JustGiving page for Young Lives vs. Cancer please click here