Masks We Wear with Ashanti Branch

Our boys often wear metaphorical masks.

We all do, in fact. At work, we typically wear our confident, professional faces. At home, we aim for warm, nurturing and competent. But underneath, we may be feeling anger, frustration, sadness or shame. Our “masks” allow us to go about our days and meet our responsibilities without ruffling too many feathers or attracting too much attention.

Boys don masks for the same reason. Our boys are swimming in a soup of messages that tell them exactly how boys should look and behave. So, to meet expectations and find social acceptance, boys often adopt personas and attitudes that conceal their true personalities and feelings.

Ashanti Branch, founder and executive director of Ever Forward Club, helps boys (and girls) identify and remove their masks. He helps them get in touch with their inner selves and emotions, so they can connect authentically with themselves and others. He also helps educators understand and connect with students.


In this episode, Janet, Jen & Ashanti discuss:
  • Social pressures that affect boys
  • Why telling a boy he’s “the man of the house” is harmful
  • The #100K Mask Challenge
  • Why it may take boys a long time to remove their masks
  • Why treating boys as if they’re giving their best is often a better option than nagging or negatively engaging
  • How to create space for boys to be human
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

Ever Forward Club — Ashanti’s non-profit

The Mask You Live In — 2015 documentary about boys’ struggles with masculinity; features Ashanti. The film is currently available on Amazon Prime.

#100K Masks Challenge —  Ashanti & Ever Forward’s effort to engage 100,000 people from all over the world in self-reflection

The Masks We All Wear — TEDx talk by Ashanti

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