Confusion Corner: Breaking the Bro Barrier


I am quirky and I have frail chicken arms. Things like chai tea, indie folk music and vintage lace rompers soothe me. I am by no means a “bro.” Not shockingly, the bro culture is one I once held great prejudice against because it is so alien to me. For one thing, I value the ability to comfortably touch the back of my neck, making the engorged muscles of a brawny bro seem not only gratuitous, but actually detrimental. Moreover, the only time I make sounds similar to what I hear echoing from the second floor of the Rec are after a bad dining experience at the Caf. And for some reason, there seems to be an unspoken rule that wearing pants in the winter is a sign of moral decay for a bro.

However, the most baffling thing has always been protein. I could never wrap my head around the cult of protein, or how this class of amino acid polypeptides had come to inherit a level of significance that is the bro-equivalent of the American Dream. I did not believe the promise that, with enough protein and burpees, I, too, could find happiness. There was certainly no room left in my thrift-store lifestyle for any talk about carbo-loading, leg days or daily egg consumption, considering I had already filled it with arguments over the ecological footprint of kale.

However, I have had a change of my hipster heart. One day, I realized something: below those bulging pec muscles, covered only with the pathetic excuse for a shirt that is the neon pink muscle tank, lies the heart of a human being. Of course, this heart is larger than a typical heart due to a regimen of complex protein and caffeine, but a heart nonetheless. It may be hard to relate to something that seems so sturdy that it could be classified as building material instead of biological matter, but the bro is a person. That pair of broad shoulders and calf socks standing before you has feelings and desires. He strives for happiness and fears failure just like you do. He had a childhood, cries over heartbreaks, and strives to do the right thing.

Most of us would rather push through an hour of burpees than push through our deeply-held prejudices.

In fact, the bro may even be more sensitive than you are. Why do you think he has chosen a strategy in which he visually displays his strength to the world? Perhaps, like so many of us high-achievers, he just wants to show people that he has worth, because he does not always fully believe it himself. The bro has homework, stress, insecurities and pain like everyone else. I know this because, despite great hesitation, I actually took the time to talk to a bro. He made me realize that I was being incredibly hypocritical for having cruel prejudices based on my automatic assumption of the bro’s shallowness.

The world needs more empathy. Most of us would rather push through an hour of burpees than push through our deeply-held prejudices. Unfortunately, prejudice is the cause of many of the ills that afflict our world. For me, it took an intimate interaction with someone I would have otherwise written off. The experience was uncomfortable. I was confronted with the distance between my positive self-image as a caring and open person and the reality of my unjustifiable dismissal of an entire group of people. However, I am glad that I did because I now have the ability to be friends with a lot of amazing and passionate individuals. Plus, I know a lot more about protein powder.

Sure, the bro and I do not see eye-to-eye on most issues, and we have chosen completely different approaches to life’s challenges. We present ourselves in different ways and are ideological opposites. However, I respect bros for just trying to be themselves in this cruel world, and I know that any bro would give me the wife-beater off his broad back if I needed it.

Emily Gardner is a Confusion Corner Columnist who gave up after three burpees, and is just going to push through her prejudices.



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