Maud Fernhout started her “What Real Men Cry Like” photo series just one year into her photography career. She wanted to develop a project that would subvert gender stereotypes. With her “What Real Women Laugh Like” series finished, Fernhout decided to continue the theme and set out to capture the emotions of young men.
“The idea of laughing girls as a series then led to the thought of having different series with different 'real' emotions, all opposing the one-dimensional way women are portrayed in media,” Fernhout, who's based in the Netherlands, tells BuzzFeed. “But when I thought of a counter-project based on crying, at some point the puzzle pieces just fell together and it made a lot of sense to do that with men instead; taking it away a bit from media portrayal but rather towards gender stereotypes in general (which of course are also visible in media).”
“I used to see myself as strong because I did not cry; now I feel weak because I cannot cry.” – Aditya.
“The reason that they are all about the same age, and the reason for any possible lack of diversity in my project, is really just my model pool,” Fernhout tells BuzzFeed. “Almost all the people in both projects live on my campus, or otherwise are close friends that didn't mind traveling. I'd never expected the project to get this big – I'm just a broke student with a mission, whose friends and fellow students were more than happy to join in. Though more diversity is something I would have definitely considered had I had the opportunity.”
“Some people laugh, some people cry. What's wrong with doing what feels right?” – Arfor
“Some (if not all) of these guys obviously also feel these stereotypes and could therefore have trouble crying themselves in general, let alone in front of a camera and a relative stranger,” Fernhout says. “So first I'd try to calm the nerves by giving them a cup of tea and just talking with them for a while – about the project, about whether they thought about ways to cry, whether they had questions, etc, but also just about school or other unrelated topics.”
“Big boys do cry. I mean, we were all born crying. Why be afraid of crying during the rest of our lives?” – Bram
“Whenever I cry, I can't help but smile soon afterward because it brings to awareness the level of genuine emotion and compassion that is constantly available to us. It's a catharsis, a purge, a spontaneous recognition of something deeply connected to whatever constitutes our self-concept. It's nothing short of beautiful.” – Buckminster
“Every shoot was different, but general techniques to at least get serious and emotional were listening to music, watching videos, just sitting in silence, or talking about emotional things in their lives,” Fernhout tells BuzzFeed. “I tried to follow them as much as possible and just kept reassuring them that they could take their time (since it's obviously a lot harder to push tears out if you're trying to do so within the time frame of a certain song, for example).”
“I personally don't see the point in crying. I understand it can be a relief. But I would rather tackle” – Florian
“Crying is a human right, whether man or woman.” – Franco
“Crying is one of the most beautiful emotional manifestations that we are capable of, so do not be afraid to cry. However, do it scarcely, to preserve its beauty.” – Gijs
“Emotional crying is one of the few things that differentiate us from animals. Ironically, so is the urge to suppress our nature because of social constructs.” – Jip
“For me, crying is not showing your weakness. When I cry, I can accept my feelings and I'm able to continue. It makes me stronger.” – Job
“Showing yourself is no sign of weakness, but one of immense power.” – Jochem
“Crying of laughter and laughing of crying: These two forms of emotional expression are so closely related that it almost scares me. As if people need this balance between sadness and happiness to be able to live. Each individual deals with it. The world is filled with sadness, pain, and joy. It's satisfying that an outlet like crying exists to be able to move on in life. And people should be able to experience that feeling in their own way.” – Kevin
“I don't think crying is anything to be ashamed of. No one should have to suppress their emotions so that they may fit within the stereotype assigned to them. I think it was the thought of my statistics exam that brought me to tears in the end.” – Louis
“The only quote that I have ever had on my wall is one from my favorite TV-show:
Q: 'Does it hurt'?
A: 'Yes, beautifully.'
This two-sentence conversation shows me that crying is not at all a show of weakness, but rather a moment where someone embraces their emotions, which, if anything, is a sign of strength and should be celebrated.” – Maurits
“How water purifies the body, tears purify the soul.” – Milos
“It breaks me down, passing through the chest, putting strain on the throat. It crushes me, twists me, puts me on my knees! I hate it, and I'm madly trying to return everything.
If this feeling is just an explosion of endorphin, why does it hurt so much? Why can't I cry?” – Pavlo
“If you think about it, it's weird that we often suppress our tears. Because it's such a fascinating human phenomenon.” – Pieter
“It is magical to think how in one tear, one single drop coming out from our eyes, a whole world of sensations, emotions, and reasons is concentrated. It's almost as if one tear was really the filtered essence of our existence…” – Stefano
“People stereotype crying as the only expression of sadness, disregarding other forms. I personally have never thought that crying as a man is a source of shame or a problem, until I did the two-hour photoshoot where I was able to pose in a sad and serious manner for eight minutes and was laughing the remaining 112.” – Tobias