29/11/2016 10:23 GMT | Updated 30/11/2017 05:12 GMT

10 Things People Don't Realise About Masculinity

Alex Belomlinsky via Getty Images

bmm banner

1. High heels were for blokes

Most people think we get high heels from Persian soldiers. They wore heels to grip their stirrups while riding. In fact, women only began wearing high heels to look masculine - it soon became a sign of wealth and status. This is maybe where the phrase 'well heeled' comes from. Louis XIV was proud of his 4 inch high heels...and talking of 4 inches...


2. Size does matter!

In Ancient Greece a large penis was associated with foolishness, lust and ugliness. A small penis was the height of desirability. They thought it showed levelheaded logical thinking. But, you try telling that to anyone without them asking if you are compensating for anything!


3. Boys do cry

So, maybe they've teased you for saying that. Maybe you cry. Crying is unmanly, right? Wrong! In fact, crying used to be a sign of masculinity. Odysseus cries throughout the Iliad, Oliver Cromwell openly cried in public, Abraham Lincoln cried in his public speeches and even Jesus wept (if you believe in the bible!) This only changed in 17th Century Europe. Society became influenced by stoicism. That meant aristocratic men were expected to manage their emotions. Crying was thought to be lack of emotional regulation; that's where the idea of crying-shame comes from. Which is interesting because some research suggests men may be more sensitive than you think...


4. Men aren't emotionless

A study recently found men are more likely to say 'I love you' before women. On average it is after 97 days, just over 3 months. That is about 6 weeks earlier than the average woman. And, if you think that's surprising...


5. Boys used to wear pink

Less than 80 years ago pink was a 'man's' colour. It was considered masculine as it was a more decided and strong colour. Pink was only associated with girls in the 1940's. That means we've had electric shavers longer than we've had the belief 'pink is for girls'. And, it's not only colours, it's materials too...


6. Lacey clothing used to be masculine

Men used to wear lacey clothing. It was a social symbol demonstrating you were rich. So, men would happily wear lace as it was one of the most expensive things going. This only became unacceptable in 19th Century. However, if you go back even further it gets more interesting...


7. Being gay used to mean you were more masculine

In Ancient Rome sexuality was defined not by preference for one sex or another. Sex was more about social status. It was defined by how you had sex not who you had sex with. They distinguished between being "active" or "passive." Active meant you were the penetrator, passive meant you were penetrated. Whether you were having sex with a man or a woman didn't long as you were the active one. If that shocks you then take a load of this...


8. Men and women are the same

Sort of!

All embryos develop the makings of both male and female sex organs. For the first 8 weeks they are identical in external appearance. Beyond this several factors nudge the infant towards male or female. But we both start out pretty much the same.


9. Men get eating disorders

t's not just women who get eating disorders. In fact, the earliest medical description of anorexia was a male. It's not a modern thing either, Lord Byron was anorexic (the romantic poet bloke...not the owner of the burger chain!) He could not eat more than once a day, took quantities of vinegar to lessen his appetite and dosed himself with Epsom salts, magnesia and strong laxatives.

It's not only him. The likes of Dennis Quaid, Billy Bob Thornton and Ashley Hamilton have had anorexia. Freddie Flintoff, Paul Gascoigne and David Coulthard have all had bulimia.

They are not alone. Last year 320,000 men were admitted to hospital suffering with bulimia, anorexia and muscle dysmorphia. That is up 63 per cent in the past five years. And it's not only eating disorders...


10. Men can't always cope

Men are up to 4 times more likely to attempt suicide and succeed. Suicide is the biggest killer of men between 25 and 40. Young boys have been proven to be more emotionally reactive and expressive than their female counterparts. So, the idea of the strong silent type is outdated, like a lot of our views on masculinity.


This blog first appeared here on Ditch The Label

HuffPost UK is running a month-long focus around men to highlight the pressures they face around identity and to raise awareness of the epidemic of suicide. To address some of the issues at hand, Building Modern Men presents a snapshot of life for men, the difficulty in expressing emotion, the challenges of speaking out, as well as kick starting conversations around male body image, LGBT identity, male friendship and mental health.

To blog for Building Modern Men, email If you would like to read our features focused around men, click here