Men Were Asked To Confess Their Manliest Traits, And Their Answers Were Totally Unexpected

These men know what's up.

What makes a man manly? What traits must a guy possess to feel and be seen as a masculine, testosterone-emanating human specimen?

We conducted a little research on Google, and found out that the most common hypotheses tend to revolve around physical appearance and strength. You know, having a thick beard or a chiseled jawline, getting dirty fixing cars, and popping jars open — those sorts of things.

However, that's just the tip of the iceberg, as this portrait series by photographer Reesee Zigga Zagga effortlessly proves.

Back in 2013, Reesee attended the What Makes A Man conference in Toronto, and asked male attendees to complete the following sentence: "The manliest thing about me is ..."

Left: "The manliest thing about me is my heart." Right: "The manliest thing about me is [my] heartbreaking vulnerability."
Left: "The manliest thing about me is my heart." Right: "The manliest thing about me is [my] heartbreaking vulnerability." Photo by Reesee Zigga Zagga

The conference was organized by White Ribbon, a movement of men and boys to end violence against women, and to promote gender equality and a new vision of masculinity.

Left: "The manliest thing about me is that I think critically and stand up." Right: "The manliest thing about me is my curiosity."
Left: "The manliest thing about me is that I think critically and stand up." Right: "The manliest thing about me is my curiosity." Photo by Reesee Zigga Zagga

Naturally, no one mentioned rock-hard abs or eating slabs of bacon with their bare hands ...

Left: "The manliest thing about me is my cauliflower ears!" Right: "The manliest thing about me is [that] I don't mind shedding tears or sharing fears."
Left: "The manliest thing about me is my cauliflower ears!" Right: "The manliest thing about me is [that] I don't mind shedding tears or sharing fears." Photo by Reesee Zigga Zagga

To these men, masculinity was about something else — love, self-confidence, compassion, and many other beautiful things.

Left: "The manliest thing about me is [that] I listen." Right: "The manliest thing about me is [that] I cry and I love it."
Left: "The manliest thing about me is [that] I listen." Right: "The manliest thing about me is [that] I cry and I love it." Photo by Reesee Zigga Zagga

Reesee, who has experienced abuse herself and works with other survivors, says she was extremely happy to work on a project like this.

Left: "The manliest thing about me is my ability to love." Right: "The manliest thing about me is that I don't mind showing emotions."
Left: "The manliest thing about me is my ability to love." Right: "The manliest thing about me is that I don't mind showing emotions." Photo by Reesee Zigga Zagga

"I see a lot of anger directed towards men as a whole, but this only separates us further," Reesee told A Plus.

Left: "The manliest thing about me is my fear of being vulnerable as evidence by how long it took me to come up with something to write here." Right: "The manliest thing about me is [that] I'm strong enough to be compassionate."
Left: "The manliest thing about me is my fear of being vulnerable as evidence by how long it took me to come up with something to write here." Right: "The manliest thing about me is [that] I'm strong enough to be compassionate." Photo by Reesee Zigga Zagga

"I am passionate about shedding light on the men out there who DO care, who ARE gentle, who ARE loving, and who want to grow," she says.

Left: "The manliest thing about me is my ability to show pure emotion!" Right: "The manliest thing about me is my soul."
Left: "The manliest thing about me is my ability to show pure emotion!" Right: "The manliest thing about me is my soul." Photo by Reesee Zigga Zagga

In her post for The Good Men Project, Reesee also encourages men to take a minute and reflect by posing the same question to themselves. 

"You may be surprised by the thoughts that surface," she writes.

This year, the What Makes A Man 2016 conference will be held on February 19 in Toronto. You can learn more by visiting the What Makes A Man website.