BTS have never been ones to stick to the status quo. Whether it’s imbuing upbeat songs with social commentary or refusing to change their identity to drive more sales, the seven-man act has long been vocal about societal pressure and the impact it can have on one’s identity. In a new interview with Esquire, the members of BTS opened up about their journey since debuting in 2013 and touched upon preconceived notions of masculinity while doing so.
In days where some question how “manly” men can be based solely on their sartorial choices, BTS’s approach to such a loaded term is nothing short of refreshing. “There is this culture where masculinity is defined by certain emotions, characteristics. I’m not fond of these expressions,” BTS’s Suga, who is currently recovering from shoulder surgery in his hometown of Daegu, told the magazine. “What does being masculine mean?” And, really, what does it?
Whether it’s embracing the flower boy aesthetic popularized in Asia in the ‘90s in promotional photo shoots, discussing their sought-after skin care and makeup routines, or hugging high fashion concepts, it’s easy to say BTS challenge the heteronormative masculinity common in the West based solely on how they present themselves. But it’s precisely that box-checking approach that baffles Suga.
“People’s conditions vary day by day. Sometimes you’re in a good condition; sometimes you aren’t. Based on that, you get an idea of your physical health,” Suga went on to explain. “That same thing applies mentally. Some days you’re in a good state; sometimes you’re not. Many pretend to be okay, saying that they’re not ‘weak,’ as if that would make you a weak person. I don’t think that’s right. People won’t say you’re a weak person if your physical condition is not that good. It should be the same for the mental condition as well. Society should be more understanding.”
In line with Suga’s words, perhaps more refreshing than any aesthetic choices, is Bangtan’s openness about mental health. It’s no secret that toxic masculinity takes an emotional toll. In clear opposition to that, BTS has long been open about the hurdles they’ve faced. The members have opened up about trying times both in private settings (shared to fans via various types of documentaries) and with tear-jerking speeches during major awards shows.
Naturally, as musicians, they have also penned the sentiments in song form, most recently in tracks like Map of the Soul: 7’s “Black Swan” and “Shadow.” Suga, under his Agust D moniker, also discussed his own struggles with mental health in his first solo offering, which was released in 2016. Most notably in tracks like “140503 at Dawn” and “The Last,” the wordsmith amply addressed his history of grappling depression and fame; he continued that thread in D-2 earlier this year.
Per Esquire‘s piece, BTS’s English moniker, Beyond The Scene, is described…