The high school experience can be painful. The atmosphere of the hallways, locker rooms, parties and social media channels often push insecurities to the forefront as young guys struggle to figure out who they are within the confines of “who they’re supposed to be.”
This pressure to conform can churn out unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. In fact, of the young guys who find themselves facing this inner turmoil, 81 percent turn to bullying, 71 percent to sexual harassment and 51 percent experience depression*. To help empower young guys to confidently embrace their true selves, AXE announces “Senior Orientation,” a program dedicated to bringing a message of self-expression and inclusivity directly to high school students.
Through a custom curriculum and series of performances, seniors will be encouraged to foster an environment of inclusive masculinity. Co-developed with AXE by masculinity expert, poet and author Carlos Andrés Gómez, and featuring award-winning musician and activist, John Legend, the program will rally seniors to take a mentorship role with underclassmen that shows them there’s no one way to “be a man.” Both Legend and Gomez will also help select and mentor students to perform at Senior Orientation to express their own unique voices to their school.
“Finding the courage to express your truest self is a crucial part of growing up and being the best person you can be. I’m proud to continue working with AXE to help young guys find their magic,” said Legend. “We want to encourage guys to be open and creative, to embrace their individuality and to conquer their fears. While there’s so much pressure to fit in, the greatest find a way to stand out.”
Senior Orientation will take place this year at Centennial High School in Columbus, Ohio – close to Legend’s hometown – and is open only to Centennial students. As part of the Columbus City School District, Centennial’s administration and students are proud of fostering a culture of encouragement to self-expression. The school is now eager to take it even further with the AXE Senior Orientation program.
“Society conditions guys to puff out their chests and pick on the kid who doesn’t conform to the mold,” said Gómez. “They think – that guy over there plays the flute, does ballet or has a lisp, it’s ok if I make his life miserable. They think being the bully makes them ‘look cool,’ but it’s really just trying to fit in at all costs. Or they think disrespecting girls will make them more of a man. It was the same when I was in high school, and I still see it with the kids I work with today.”
“As a men’s grooming brand, AXE has always been about helping guys feel more confident,” said Dawn Hedgepeth, Senior Director of US Deodorants & Male Grooming at Unilever. “The truest source of confidence is the freedom to embrace and express your truest personal style, down to the very fibers of your DNA. We absolutely owe it to our guys – and the women in their lives – to champion a more inclusive world where this is possible. There’s no place today more in need of this than our high schools.”
AXE is dedicated to helping you #FindYourMagic. To get involved in the Find Your Magic Initiative and #SeniorOrientation conversation, follow @AXE on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. And if you or someone you know is impacted by bullying, AXE partner Ditch The Label has trained mentors ready to answer your questions and offer confidential support at https://us.ditchthelabel.org/get-help/.