Young people from all over NYC, ranging from fourth grade to high school, made the Barclays Center their classroom on Sept. 25th. Instead of school bells and the slams of lockers students listened to advice from NBC The Good Place’s Jameela Jamil, Disney star Skai Jackson, Aquaman’s Amber Heard, and rapper/actor Super Duper Kyle who performed and spoke on behalf of AXE.
The occasion? WE Day 2019! Held during the 74th United Nations General Assembly, WE Day serves to encourage youths to be leaders who use their differences to their advantage and as a result, change the world while uplifting and encouraging others to celebrate their differences. After launching their “Is It Okay For Guys” campaign in 2017, AXE furthered their efforts to tackle toxic masculinity by teaming up with education experts at Crain Guidance to bring a curriculum called “Generation Unlabeled” to middle schools in the near future.
Bringing a taste of “Generation Unlabeled” to WE Day, AXE brought masculinity expert Carlos Andres Gomez to address the students. Gomez took the opportunity to advise kids to be themselves, a topic Kyle echoed in an interview after his performance.
“I only got a couple of seconds to actually say something, but I just wanted to preach what I feel is the most important message which is self love and being proud of yourself and being your best friend,” the “iSpy” singer and AXE partner said. “I think the majority of times in life when you have to face adversity you’re going to have to do it alone sometimes and if you’re not really down with yourself and you don’t think you’re awesome; it’s going to be so much easier to knock you down.”
As for his own struggle with being bullying and toxic masculinity, Kyle isn’t ashamed of his journey. In fact, he embraces it and freely shared his story to encourage his fans. “This is my favorite subject,” he said with a chuckle. “When I was young I was trying to be somebody I wasn’t because I felt so much pressure to be this stereotypical figure of a dude that I saw everywhere on TV, in movies; everybody wanted to play some kind of sport and that totally wasn’t me,” he continued.
“It naturally makes every dude feel if they’re not exactly like the person they see on the screen, something’s wrong with them,” he said; “Luckily very early on, I figured out the more I stopped caring about fitting in, the cooler, and uniquer I got.”
Realizing times are changing and youths are doing more than chugging protein shakes the way he did, Kyle addresses issues that arise from technology. When it comes to growing up in the age of social media, the 26 year-old advises today’s youngins to follow with intention. “What kids should do is try to follow and pay attention to people who are feeding you positive messages as opposed to people who are pressuring you to be something you’re not,” he proposed. He also explains flexing is cool, as long as it’s done in a positive way. “This stuff is fake. You should only strive to impress yourself and people who actually love and care about you. I will participate in the flex but I’m going to do it in a way that represents something true to myself and something that’s against the grain of what’s cool,” the 2k lover explained while gesturing to his diamond game boy chain.
He concludes, “You don’t have any flaws. You have a unique way of God making you. But there’s nothing wrong with you.”