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Sunday Reads: Partying with the Bear Community, The Lonely World of SSRI Withdrawal and the Men Who Love Their UGGs

The best of MEL from the Week That Was

This week, we turned our attention to the mind. Namely: Its well-being. As such, we looked at the initiatives in the U.K. aimed at helping working-class men in the construction industry struggling with anxiey and depression on the job. We also investigated how sometimes the help doctors provide — i.e., SSRIs — can become part of the problem, especially when it’s time to stop them, as quitting can be as hellacious as giving up any other drug. And all of this culminated in Madeleine Holden’s brilliant piece on the inauthenticity of the “just reach out” narrative. Or as she puts it:

“It’s reductive to suggest that the primary barrier between men and better mental health is a failure to ask for help that results from a fear of seeming unmanly. While stigma is certainly a barrier to treatment, a lack of access to robust mental-health care caused by deliberate underfunding is the real problem that mental-health organizations, advocates and media outlets should be challenging. Because it’s cruel to encourage men and others to ‘reach out’ if there’s little help at hand when they do.”

But, of course, that was far from the only stuff worth checking out from the Week That Was…

Must Reads of the Week

My Weekend At the International Bear Convergence, a Rare Body-Positive Oasis for Gay Men
C. Brian Smith spent a couple of days in not much more than his underwear exploring the many layers of the “bear” subculture with the thousands of burly, hirsute men who descended upon the gay mecca of Palm Springs for the International Bear Convergence. While it might seem like just a great, big hairy pool party (it definitely was that, too), the loosely organized event was actually a study in self-love and body positivity more than anything else.

The Boyfriend Experience
Nona Willis Aronowitz extensively researched the little-known, tough-to-find world of male escorts who cater to women. Because of the lack of demand and societal beliefs around female sexuality, there aren’t many escorts out there willing to exclusively cater to female clients. And even fewer women will admit to having traded cash for a few hours with an escort because of the associated stigma. But for those who do contract for sex with a male escort, the increased control of their own sexuality definitely makes it worth the price.

The Week in Features

Botox v. Boyfriend
Whenever I complain about the volume of my lips (or lack thereof) and suggest some filler would fix that problem right up, my boyfriend calls me a “psycho.” Which turns into a debate between “my body, my choice” and his argument that what really needs some filler is my self-confidence. Apparently, my experience isn’t a unique one, because a lot of couples face similar arguments when one partner wants cosmetic surgery and the other thinks it’s unnecessary.

Building Up Construction Workers
Working in construction can be physically demanding, an inconsistent source of income and foster a toxic environment amongst coworkers. As a result, construction workers commonly suffer from mentally illness, and sadder still, experience high rates of suicide. Fortunately, the industry has begun offering on-the-job-site mental-health support to get workers the help they desperately need.

Smells Like Pre-Teen Spirit
If the smell of Axe body spray doesn’t immediately trigger memories of undersexed and overstimulated teenagers chugging Mike’s Hard Lemonade at a lame high school party, obviously you were homeschooled. People in the U.K. have similar memories, except instead of Axe, the cheap stench that assaulted their adolescent nostrils belonged to Lynx Africa.

The Long, Painful Goodbye to SSRIs
It takes about a month or so to begin noticing the effects of antidepressants, but when coming off of them, the feeling is immediate — and immediately awful. Eddie Kim talked to people who have dealt with an unexpected array of painful physical and mental withdrawal symptoms upon ending their prescription to SSRIs — from brain “zaps” to vertigo. And to make a lonely, agonizing experience even worse, there’s often little warning or assistance from doctors to prepare them for what the industry dryly refers to as “discontinuation syndrome.

Kicking Back With Bundy
Nothing better than coming home from a long day of work, plopping down on the couch and putting on a documentary about people being murdered. With a truly staggering amount of true-crime shows and movies available on Netflix — and more in the pipeline — murder-y content has become America’s favorite way to relax.

Summer Camp for the Rich and Infamous
When a wealthy white guy gets nailed for fraud, the joke is that he’s not sent to some maximum security prison where he’s likely to get shivved within a week like the fresh fish he is — he’s sent to “Club Fed,” with rolling lawns, five-star meals and zero fences. The reality of the white-collar prison experience is certainly less rosy, but what is true is the huge race and class divide when it comes to sentencing. Along with the fact that guys like Michael Cohen are often sent to minimum security prisons where a lot of his inmates might look like him.

Out-of-Context Quote of the Week

Where the intersection of office machines and butts can kill you.

Men We Loved This Week

Ugg Buds
Here’s something you probably didn’t know/remember: Before UGGs belonged to the PSL-drinking basic bitches of loungewear, the shearling-lined, slip-on boots were the preferred footwear of Australian surfer dudes. Today, UGGs is trying to return to its manly origins, and
to hear it from guys who have fully bought back into the brand, it’s working.

The MEL Wayback Machine

“The Fake Strongmen of Instagram”
2018 was often referred to as the “Year of the Scam,” and judging by a piece we wrote in February of that year about men who lift with fake weights to boost their influencer-cred on Instagram, it’s true. Sure, the guys really are pretty ripped, but deadlifting 675 pounds for 10 reps? That’s almost impossible. The fake feats often lead to more followers and therefore more sponsorship opportunities, but it pushes dangerous and unhealthy ideas about weightlifting.

But Dont Just Take Our Word For It