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Unmanly Secret
Hubert: (playing with toy figures) Tonight...we feast on dead seafood! Pow Pow! Beach Brigade, Sunscreen Rangers Red!!
Sophie: What are you doing?
Hubert: Oh! Sophie!
Sophie: What's a beach brigade?
Hubert: It's...a branch of the Strahta military? They're specially trained to ...um... maintain peace in...waterfront regions...
Sophie: Oh.

We all know here that Real Men Wear Pink, but some haven't gotten the memo. Hence this trope, when someone who has Real Men Wear Pink characteristics tries to hide them out of shame, embarrassment, fear of teasing/bullying, etc. He may choose to keep them to himself, or he may share it with only a few close friends. If he thinks that he's hiding it, but a lot of people around him know anyway and don't care, it could be Everybody Knew Already. It may also lead to the use of a Less Embarrassing Term.

A similar phenomenon would be a female character who is One of the Boys trying to hide anything considered feminine or girly that she likes, though this doesn't seem to be nearly as common. The inversion would be a woman trying to hide the like of anything masculine, though that's probably even less common these days.

This can also be used in reference not only to things that are considered "girlish," but anything that's considered antithetical to manliness, such as something dubbed "childish" or "nerdy."

Contrast Agent Peacock, who is very up-front and open with his feminine side, but still kicks as much ass as the Mr. Macho character.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime/ Manga 

     Films - Animated 
  • Flipped on its head in "I've Got a Dream" from Tangled in which a bunch of thugs and ruffians in a bar outright admit in song that they like things like sewing, puppet shows and interior design.
  • In How to Train Your Dragon, Hiccup pretends to Astrid to have one to try to hide his secret about Toothless: "I, I'm through with the lies, I've been making... outfits! So, you got me. It's time everyone knew."

     Films - Live Action 
  • Dark Helmet in Spaceballs plays with dolls when he thinks he's alone. This is actually not as much of a secret as he'd like to think, though.
    Dark Helmet: *after Colonel Sandurz walks in on him* Did you see anything?!
    Sandurz: No, sir, I didn't see you playing with your dolls again.

     Jokes 
  • There's a joke about a guy who finds himself all alone in the house, all the womenfolk scared off by the big football game on TV that night. He double-checks the locks and party supplies and... catches up with his favorite Soap Opera.

     Literature 
  • Referenced in the thoughts of the Varden leader Nasuada in Inheritance of Inheritance Cycle when she thinks about how certain men within her army have revealed things about themselves to her that would be surprising given that their outward loves seemed to be only "wine, women, and war," such as a tendency to memorize romantic poems.
  • Butler, Artemis Fowl's 6-foot-plus One-Man Army and Battle Butler, likes watching romantic comedies, though he will never admit this to anyone.
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster stories, would-be dictator Rodrick Spode hides his (highly profitable) talent for designing ladies' underwear.
    Bertie: Spode, I know all about Eulalie.
  • In Junie B. Jones is a Beauty Shop Guy, Junie B.'s dad is a bit bothered at having to take Junie B. with him to the beauty shop because he doesn't want anyone to know that he's visiting a beauty shop instead of his normal barbershop. (His friend recommended the beauty shop to him.)

     Live Action TV 
  • In Sadie J, Kit tries to hide his fashion interests from cousin Lollo (Welsh, pronounced "Yoh-low") by pretending to enjoy rugby. Lollo then says that he'd like Kit anyway when he accidentally (but inevitably) finds out.
  • 30 Rock - when Jack is up for a promotion to GE CEO, he hires a detective to investigate himself for potential dirty laundry - he comes back with Jack's being a secret collector of cookie jars, a bit too warm and fuzzy for top-level executive material.
  • Friends: When Joey was forced to go to a salon to get his eyebrows thinned and reshaped for head shots, the procedure caused so much pain he quit after only one was done. He panicked so much about the state his eyebrows were left in that Chandler took pity on him and let him in on a little secret: when his father and his father's colleagues needed their eyebrows done before performances, he used to do it for the pocket money. Not only can he do this to professional standards, but his procedure is so pain-free that Joey suggests he could put the original salon out of business.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: One episode has one of the bullies embarrassed by being in the sewing club try to muster up the courage to tell everyone because he couldn't bear to keep the secret in anymore.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Averted by Barney who's not ashamed of liking manicures.
  • Supernatural: Bobby got a pedicure one time and admits it changed his life. He made Dean swear not to tell anyone.
    • A woman Dean was with made him try on a pair of pink satin panties, and he "kind of liked it". He uses this information to convince a future version of himself that he really is who he says he is.

     Video Games 
  • Tales of Graces
    • Zigzagged with Hubert and his fanboy-ish interests. In some cases, he has no problems debating canon with other characters. But when Sophie catches him playing with "Beach Brigade" toys, he tells her that the Beach Brigade is a branch of the Strahtan military dedicated to waterfront protection.
    • One of the fetch quests for the Inn Requests involves a "Young Man" who wants an item called the Feather Badge, but says he's embarrassed even saying the name and when you turn in the request, he says to be quiet about it, and that no one must know.
  • Persona 4
    • This is the main issue that Kanji Tatsumi has. His mother owns a textile shop, and he likes to make little dolls for people, which directly contrasts from the tough biker badass persona that he tries to project to people. His entire character arc/Social Link is about learning to overcome his hangup about this and accept himself as a whole.
    • There's also Naoto Shirogane, an ace detective who wants desperately to prove herself in a male-dominated profession, to the point of posing as a boy and not showing her more girly traits to anyone.
  • In Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland, Hagel doesn't like anyone to know that he designs and sews his own outfits. "You gotta keep it a secret, kiddo!"
  • In Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland, Rufus, the uptight castle butler who is sparse with his praise has a secret love of sweets — pies, etc. At least, he'd like to believe it's secret. Meruru has known about it "forever," but that doesn't stop him from trying to hide it anyway.

    Webcomics 
  • In Spacetrawler, Krep mocks Martina for keeping a diary: "Diaries are for little girls!" Then Martina leaves the room, and Krep immediately begins writing in his own diary:
    Krep: Dear diary, I'm so sorry. I slandered you in spirit, but I had my badass image to uphold.

     Western Animation 
  • Arthur:
    • Zigzagged with Binky Barnes. When his character first starts developing not manly interests, he tries to hide them, but then gets found out anyway. Though some people try to make a big deal of it at first, his perceived fierceness and reputation as a bully allows him to quell any teasing or bullying simply by growls, posturing and death glares. In later seasons, he still sometimes tries to hide it, but just as often is open about it. In Season 15's "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," he doesn't care one bit that his friends in the Tough Customers gang know that he's going to be performing in a clarinet solo, but is terribly afraid that one of them might find out that he still sometimes holds his mother's hand. When they do find out anyway, they chew him out... for not having a juicier, more embarrassing secret!
    • The titular character himself has this moment with Season 4's That's A Baby's Show, when he becomes hooked on a Teletubbies Expy called Love Ducks.
    • Also, in Season 4's Buster's Breathless, Buster initially tries to hide the fact that he suffers from Asthma.
    • In Season 7's Jenna's Bedtime Blues, Ascended Extra Jenna Morgan tries to hide the fact that she wears diapers becuase she suffers from Nocturnal Enuresis, aka bedwetting.
  • On PB&J Otter, both Peanut and Munchy refer to their Bucky Spacebeaver toys as "action figures" instead of "dolls" to try to preserve their perceived manliness. Additionally, Flick Duck tends to behave very secretively about any behaviors or hobbies of his that would be perceived as girlish or too childlike.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, the tomboyish pegasus Rainbow Dash believes she has a reputation as a tough athlete that must be upheld. In "Read It and Weep", she mocks reading as something only suitable for "eggheads", but upon reading a Daring Do novel, she's shocked to find herself enjoying it. She then goes to increasingly elaborate lengths both to hide her new hobby and to get her book back. (In this case, the conflict is entirely inside Dash's head—when her friends do find out about her new hobby, they're all completely supportive.) Similarly, in "Ponyville Confidential", a photo of Dash visiting the spa winds up on the front page of the newspaper. Dash tries to buy every copy of the newspaper before anyone can see the photo, and when this strategy fails, she laments that her life is now ruined.
    • A survey of "bronies" found that around 50% identified as either Hidden Bronies or Secret Bronies and hide their interest in the My Little Pony program from family and friends, though not in all cases for this reason.
  • In My Little Pony Tales, Teddy didn't want anyone to know he has a teddy bear.
  • On The Large Family, a children's-targeted series airing CBeebies based on books by Jill Murphy, Lester Large usually maintains a cool veneer about any sort of activities he deems childish or girly, but to his own detriment, as he generally finds that when he drops this front, he finds them enjoyable.
  • On an episode of the Animated Adaptation of Franklin, Franklin once tried to hide the fact that he was still sleeping with his stuffed dog, Sam, when having a campout with his friends.
  • On "The Sleepover" from Timothy Goes to School,when Timothy has a sleepover with the Franks, he hides his stuffed penguin toy, Pengy under his bed. At the end of the story, he tries to get it back after lights out, only to find that Frank 2 had hidden his own stuffed bulldog toy, Bully, under the bed. Frank 1 complains that everyone at school is going to laugh at them, but Timothy brings out Pengy. Both Timothy and Frank 2 are then shown sleeping soundly, but Frank 1 looks around, scared, apparently missing his own stuffed toy, whatever it might be.


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