True story: The other day, I was spamming my Snapchat so hard I almost got hit by a semi-truck. I know, it was extra, but I couldn’t help it.

I mean, the light was just too good and the semi-truck really could wait. It honked, it swerved, it almost hit a dog, and there I was so consumed with my self-righteous selfie I stood there without a flinch, proceeding to walk to my Crossfit class unscathed and on time.

Was it worth almost getting squashed to death by a 2 ton truck? Of course not! But the photo had good light– very good light. My face was translucent, in the swipe left once filter, sort of way, the one I use when I’m trying to persuade my followers into thinking I was born with naturally flawless, dewy Korean skin. (Keyword: trying, as my friend Liz explained later, no one actually thinks this of me IRL. Aka I’m ridiculous and apparently thirsty AF).

SEE ALSO: 6 men on redefining masculinity

More so, it was at a time when I was genuinely feeling myself. I had been working out hard for 5 months and just shed 10 pounds of winter weight—probably the pudgiest I’d felt in a long time. I felt my abs slowly grow in, my arms become veiny, the sinews tightening from bone to body. It’s that embarrassing moment when you know no one’s around when you look in the mirror, take a second look or maybe a long minute-long stare, and are like, DAY-UM, someone’s feeling themselves today. I realized, for the first time in my life I felt–dare I say–sexy. Powerful. Masculine.

Like a man.

But this suddenly made me feel more insecure, grappling with this idea of what makes a man, well, a man. Did my confidence genuinely come from me becoming more of my true self or getting closer to societal’s notions of what a man was supposed to be?

I’ve been scratching my head trying to answer that very question. In a biblical sense, masculinity is best described as Samson, that warrior who tore into lions and slayed his enemies with his strength. In ancient Greek culture, courage was the absolute pillar of masculinity. Well, that, and huge pecs with at least a dozen abs. When scrutinizing our modern age, we see that the consensus is men should be gruff, a little rough around the edges, and emotionless. Muscles! Testosterone! Beards!

But times, they are a’changin.

Photo courtesy Vogue Korea
Photo courtesy Peter Ash Lee for Vogue Korea

Thanks to guys like Jaden Smith, who readily wears dresses because, uh, why not, and Young Thug who went on record saying 90% of his wardrobe is womenswear, and the likes of Frank Ocean being open about his feelings, it’s obvious there’s a cultural revolution brewing. Masculinity has taken on a new meaning. Men are tearing down these antiquated walls and defining themselves however the hell they want to.

Photo courtesy Dazed and Confused
Photo courtesy Dazed and Confused

And brands are finally catching on, too. Last week, CoverGirl announced its newest face, a guy named James Charles. He’s the same guy who went viral last month after his yearbook shoot full of mascara, contouring and the whole works. This is important for several reasons. Namely, having CoverGirl, a national brand with ads displayed in every drug store, normalizes guys being able to express themselves through makeup. A guy who wants to be as fierce as any girl? A CoverBoy? Super cool.

Photo courtesy CoverGirl
Photo courtesy CoverGirl


Which is why I started this website, Very Good Light. It’s built to be a safe haven and a non-judgmental space for guys to talk about “manly” things from all spectrums of manhood. It’s certainly not mine alone, rather a site for anyone who seeks to express their identity, their struggles, triumphs, and failures. And everyone is welcome, of course. Just because we’ll be talking about issues guys deal with doesn’t mean girls don’t deal with some of the same things. Not only are most of my friends women, but I’m proud to call myself a feminist. Being masculine to me is also about having the utmost respect for people from all genders—however you choose to identify.

In the upcoming weeks, expect features by young, modern men, who are redefining what manhood is all about. From an essay about hyper-masculinity, being the only transgender guy at an all female college, to one about being biracial and how that affected one’s upbringing and sense of self.

Then, we’ll have guides. Lots of guides! They’ll come in .GIF form, videos, and easily digestible tips for when a guy wants to look his best. How to hide your hickey? Should you shave your pits? Brow jobs and why they’re so good. Yeah, all questions you and I have asked ourselves but never wanted to ask anyone else. These aren’t tips from your girlfriends, mothers, or sisters. They’re tips for guys written by guys.

Finally, what’s a good site without interesting people to read about? Celebrity and influencers will be interviewed about their formative years, what very good light means to them, along with inside looks into their grooming closets, in a series called Groom Raider. What do they use? What tips can they give? From athletes, celebrities, musicians, stylists, to renown fashion editors, we’ll get a good idea of what being a modern guy means from different perspectives.

It’s an exciting time to be alive, my friends! And what I’ve concluded is that in our modern age, a man certainly cannot be defined. He can wear makeup, he can wear dresses, he can play basketball, he can rap, sing, dance, can be in love women or men or anyone in between. He can cry, he can be emotional, he can be angry, brash, scared. He can be human.

And that’s when he no longer needs that Snapchat filter, or the natural elements, or risking his life to take that good selfie. Because when he exudes good light–very good light–from within, he’ll never take a bad photo ever again.

Shine on.


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