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...
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, a believer of Real Women Don't Wear Dresses, or simply a Tomboy 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." The latter would overlap with the Closet Geek. See also Embarrassing Hobby.
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.
- Ayakashi Triangle: Matsuri asks why Soga is so Genre Savvy about romance tropes, which Ponosuke says is because Soga reads a lot of manga and novels about it. Soga gets flustered and tells Ponosuke not to be such a blabbermouth.
- Cells at Work and Friends!: Despite his overtly masculine exterior, some of Killer T's hobbies are not that manly. For example, it seems his favourite genre is Romantic Comedy, and some of the videos he rents are of the Shōjo type.
- Heartcatch Precure: After Itsuki's big brother suffers a Career-Ending Injury, she attempts to present a strong image so that she can properly take his place as Heir to the Dojo, which includes dressing like a boy and attempting to hide her strong love of cute things. Ironically, when we actually meet Satsuki he looks and acts more like a Yamato Nadeshiko than the paragon of manliness Itsuki made him out to be, has zero issue squeeing over cute things himself, and is deeply confused by Itsuki's behaviour. Eventually when Satsuki is transformed into a Monster of the Week and Itsuki becomes Cure Sunshine in order to save him, the great strength of her Magical Girl form comes hand-in-hand with girlishness, which comes as a shock to her system that leads her to gradually become more comfortable with that side of herself again.
- Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun:
- Kashima thinks Hori, her rough and tough drama club president, has secret girly hobbies and interests such as reading shoujo manga and being a princess. This is due to her being Locked Out of the Loop about him being Nozaki's shoujo manga assistant and misunderstanding his actions around Nozaki.
- In Chapter 105, Nozaki has Mayu give Sakura and Mikorin each a gift from him, but Mayu doesn't know which is for whom. Sakura realizes the huge cheesecake is for her, but doesn't want to admit it. Mikorin says they'll know which is whose when they see the other gift... which turns out to be an Otome Game called Hot Men Syndrome, subtitled "A Game For Young Maidens".
- My Dress-Up Darling starts out with the male protagonist, Wakana Gojo, treating his hobby of making Hinamatsuri dolls as this (owing to one time in his childhood when a girl his age told him it was gross for him to like the dolls as he was a boy). It's not until he meets Marin Kitagawa, who strongly believes that everyone should be free to like what they want and without being judged, that he slowly begins to open up about it.
- Pokémon: The Series:
- In the episode "The Screen Actor's Guilt", Ash, Pikachu, Brock and Misty befriend a popular action star and Chick Magnet named Brad, who has a Pokémon as pink and girly as Smoochum as his companion and best friend. The problem is, his managers are pressuring him into dropping her because they fear for the guy's macho image, though Brad considers Smoochum as both his best friend and a living good-luck charm that has helped him with his career. The fans find out anyway when Team Rocket attacks Brad and Smoochum in public to steal her away... and not only does Smoochum proves herself to be a Badass Adorable by helping Ash and Co. banish the Rockets, but Brad becomes even more popular with the fans and especially among fangirls, all thanks to her. In the end, the two star in a movie together.
- Serena's Pancham was insecure about its love of performing at first, stealing items from Pokémon Showcases so it could practice in secret.
- Jun from Rozen Maiden dropped out of school in humiliation after it was discovered he liked to design clothes for girls.
- Super Heroine Boy's Wataru Ooiwa, over time, becomes a big fan of Alice Girls Shiny Heart (a Pretty Cure pastiche). He's fine telling people who are already in the know about it, but the rest of the world is no-go. It doesn't hurt that he's a scary delinquent, which also dampens his love for the cutesy magical series. A supporting character inverts this by being a female fan of a Henshin Hero series aimed at young boys; some humour is drawn from how both franchises are clearly made by the same company, and follow such a similar formula that the pair assume that they're both talking about the same show.
- Anger Management: Downplayed for Ronnie Anne's secrets about watching romcoms, wearing bunny underwear, and allowing Carlota to put makeup on her. She is a girl, just a tough one.
- In How to Train Your Dragon, Hiccup tries to hide his secret about Toothless from Astrid with an Embarrassing Cover-Up:
"I, I'm through with the lies, I've been making... outfits! So, you got me. It's time everyone knew."
- Turning Red: Tyler is a basketball-playing Jerk Jock who bullies Mei during most of the movie, and looks very embarrassed when Mei and her friends find out that he's into the Boy Band 4*Town. However, the girls react very positively to this and even become friends with him thanks to their mutual interest in the band.
- Dark Helmet in Spaceballs plays with "action figures" 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.
- In High School Musical, the jock clique are horrified when their brawny, alpha-esque leader reveals his passion for theatre. (Except for Zeke, a chef who aspires to "make the perfect creme brulee".) Although their distaste for it is overtly motivated by devotion to the status quo, it has many undertones of gender stereotyping.
"It isn't like hip-hop, okay? Or like rock. Or anything essential to culture. It's all costumes and makeup and…dude, it's horrifying."
- In Paperback Hero, Jack Willis writes romance novels under the name of his female best friend, for fear of being laughed out of town.
- At the beginning of the Italian comedy Le Comiche 2, a male character undergoes an accidental and undesired breast augmentation. Later he reappears in the movie as passenger on a plane but the outcome of the operation is not revealed until a Comedic Underwear Exposure caused by opening a wrong door during the flight. He is stripped to his underwear disclosing he was hiding an ample new bosom and wearing a bra under male clothes, thus retroactively unfolding he has been living with this unmanly secret for a while. The shame, and embarrassment of the character is Played for Laughs, whose emasculation is a recurring gag in the movie despite the creepy undertones.
- 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.
- Ben Safford Mysteries: In Murder Out of Commission, adventurous Congressman Tony Martinelli is visibly embarrassed when his wife tells his friends that Tony gardens for fun.
- In Inheritance Cycle, Nasuada notes 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.
- Artemis Fowl: The 6-foot-plus One-Man Army Battle Butler likes watching romantic comedies, though he will never admit this to anyone.
- The Berenstain Bears: In Ghosts of the Auto Graveyard, burly junkyard owner Two-Ton Grizzly is terrified of anyone knowing that he's afraid of the dark, and that his wife and daughter do most of the night work at the junkyard.
- 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.)
- Lords of the Underworld:
- The brawny soldier Gideon secretly places fresh flowers in his house, something he outwardly attributes to the many women who also live in it. Even in his own narration, he's reluctant to admit the truth.
That shit smelled good.
- Maddox dreams of settling into a domestic life and having children, something he's only ever told Ashlyn. For good reason, too: his comrades-in-arms are good friends, but not one of them are above ribbing him about it.
- The brawny soldier Gideon secretly places fresh flowers in his house, something he outwardly attributes to the many women who also live in it. Even in his own narration, he's reluctant to admit the truth.
- Invoked in Captain Underpants: George and Harold play a prank on the school bully Kipper Krupp by putting dolls, frilly dresses and a friendship bracelet kit in his locker, making his friends laugh at him.
- In Amelia Bedelia and Friends Mind Their Manners, one of the Young Amelia Bedelia chapter books, Amelia Bedelia and her friends get a drill sergeant as a substitute teacher... who is highly embarrassed one morning when Amelia Bedelia walks in on him eating a donut with sprinkles.
- Gotrek & Felix: One of the Slayers encountered never shows his face, which is respected by the others since every Slayer is a Death Seeker trying to atone for an unforgivable crime and rarely reveals it to others. Then it turns out he hides his face because his beard was burned off (which is very much Serious Business among dwarfkind).
- Burke's Law: The revival episode "Who Killed The Toymaker" features General Prescott, a toy company's military consultant. Prescott collects stuffed animals, saying it started in The Korean War when he carried a teddy bear to remind him of his childhood amidst all that death. He's a bit self-conscious about his hobby and tells his coworkers that the toys are gifts for his nonexistent granddaughter.
- 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.
- Bobby got a pedicure one time and admits it changed his life. After he admits this when under the influence of a truth goddess, 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.
- Dean also enjoys watching Dr. Sexy, MD. Downplayed example in that Sam is aware of this, but Dean still tries to deny that he's an actual fan, and insists he just found it channel surfing. When this front breaks down, Dean calls it a guilty pleasure.
- The Mr. Potato Head Show: Mr. Potato Head's secret is that he likes to hide in the cupboard and do a silly dance called the "Fluffy Pookie-Poo".
- In Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Rosa Diaz is a tomboy who doesn't want anyone to know about her girly streak. She keeps basically all aspects of her life that don't involve her being a terrifying badass a secret, and when she does break down and let her girly hobbies show (such as doing yoga, making jewelry, or interior decor), she makes it clear that anyone who wants to tease her about it does so on pain of death. Given that she's the toughest cop in the precinct, her friends know these are not empty threats and keep their comments to themselves.
- In Zits, Pierce has a secret addiction to scrapbooking that he is very determined to keep secret.
- In "Tutter's First Big Sleepover Bash" from Bear in the Big Blue House, the other mice have gone to bed, but Tutter tells Bear that he's worried about what they will think if they see him sleeping with his stuffed toy, Kitty. Bear shows him that all of the other mice are sleeping with stuffed animals.
- The Atelier Series:
- 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.
- Card City Nights 2: The Idun card, depicting the PsyCard character, notes how her stoicism is a facade:
Puts on a stoic act to hide her true personality. Spends her PsyCard tournament winnings on bespoke fancy dresses.
- 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.
- Zigzagged with Saguaro in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. No one comments on the fact that he wears a pink shirt and an apron with cute patches on it, or the fact that his team (as shown in post-game fights) mostly consists of typically cutesy and/or female-only species. However, he does actively hide the fact that he despises spicy food and loves sweets, since the students all see him as a tough guy whose tastes must be the complete opposite of that, and he doesn't want to disappoint them. Of course, when his secret inevitably does get out, nobody cares.
- Played for Laughs in AI: The Somnium Files when Date manages to blackmail a yakuza boss called Moma by threatening to expose his love for Tesa, a popular Gamer Chick Idol Singer. One of his underlings says he'd never be into "pussy shit like that" only to be Instantly Proven Wrong by his embarrassed boss and shooed out of the room. Moma's love for Tesa leads him to pull off two separate Big Damn Heroes moments for Date and Tesa/Iris, and in the Golden Ending he manages to get the rest of his gang to fall for her as well (by forcing them to watch her videos until they did).
- Kirby: In addition to fleeing once his mask breaks due to looking like a blue Kirby, Meta Knight has a fondness for sweets, and the Kirby Café menu suggests he indulges in desserts when no one is looking.
- 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.
- In Homestar Runner, Strong Bad wants to project an aura of tough-guy coolness. Thus, he does not want people to know that he likes baking (while pretending he's a grandma, no less), taking swim lessons at the rec center, or thoroughly cleaning his house.
- In Dragon ShortZ "Two and a Half Saiyans" Vegeta is horrified when Nappa tries to post a video or photo of the moment Vegeta let his guard down and had a sweet moment doting over his son, the sleeping baby Trunks, to social media. To the point of attempting to fight Nappa and even throwing a Galick Gun beam attack at him.
- 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.
- In Scarlet Lady, when Mylène tries to sing a lullaby to herself to calm down, Chloé mocks her - only for Adrien to shut her up by reminding her that he knows she has a teddy bear she calls Mr. Cuddles.
- Looming Gaia: Skel secretly wears dresses he anonymously orders from Linde in his free time and roleplays as an elven princess.
- Vester And Friends has Bowser watching kid shows on his Ipad. It always gets embarrassing for him when the others see him on his Ipad.
- 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 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, although it’s out of his friends seeing him as diseased rather than unmanly.
- In Season 7's Jenna's Bedtime Blues, Ascended Extra Jenna Morgan tries to hide the fact that she wears pull-ups because she suffers from Nocturnal Enuresis, aka bedwetting.
- In an episode of American Dragon: Jake Long, it’s revealed through Jake’s sister Haley that he doesn’t like having people in his room unsupervised because he’s afraid that they’ll find out about his teddy bear collection and the fact that he still sleeps with a nightlight since he was 2 years old.
- In the Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode Broodwich, Frylock tries to warn Shake about the titular evil sandwich, claiming to have read about it in The Bible. However, the disembodied voice says he probably read about it in Vogue (Heidi Klum was on the cover. You know, the Broodwich issue?). Shake and Meatwad promptly mock Frylock for having girly magazine tastes.
Shake: You read all this in Vogue? That's a girl magazine. I hope you were at the dentist, Frylock!
Frylock: It just comes to the house, I-
Shake: Of course it comes, when you order it, you big, fat lady!
Meatwad: Someone down there is a girl!
Frylock: Everyone just shut up about the Vogue thing!
- 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.
- 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. Notably, in later episodes she can be seen reading out in the open.) 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.
- Smolder the dragon is even more of a tomboy than Rainbow Dash, and can't admit that she likes "cute, silly stuff" to anyone. When she's forced to confront this fact about herself in the episode "What Lies Beneath", Smolder indulges in a tea party while putting on a much more feminine, posh accent. However, as soon as the party ends, she just as quickly refuses to talk about it.
- 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. Frank 2 tries to get something under the bed at one point and almost sees it only to be interrupted before he can. At the end of the story, Timothy sneaks out of bed and 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 in their bag near the beginning of the episode which was what he was trying to get. Frank 1 complains that everyone at school is going to laugh at them, but Timothy brings out Pengy and they promise each other that they won't tell anyone. 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.
- In "Zou's Teething Ring" on Zou, Zou tries to hide an old teething ring that his mother wants to keep because it reminds her of when he was a baby. He's afraid if anyone else sees it, he'll get teased.
- In "Lord of the Rink" from Sofia the First, Hugo hides from both the hockey team and his father that he's joined the ice dancing team.
- In the Gravity Falls episode "Dipper vs. Manliness," Dipper reacts this way when Stan walks in on him in the bathroom singing a girly pop song.
- In an episode of Danny Phantom, Danny discovers that Jerk Jock Dash has a massive collection of pastel-colored teddy bears in his closet. He uses this to his advantage at the end of the episode by making said collection spill out of Dash’s locker.
- Invoked and played with in the CatDog episode "Cliff's Little Secret". Cat discovers that Cliff has a secret and taunts him endlessly about it, and Cliff grows increasingly paranoid that he's learned about one of his embarrassing non-macho traits, which include his Embarrassing First Name and Embarrassing Middle Name (his full name is Clifford Maurice Feltbottom), his love of cashmere, and his prolonged problems with bedwetting, all classic examples of the trope. After he's blurted out these secrets himself, Cat then reveals the secret that he was actually using as leverage: that Cliff takes ballet. In a subversion of the trope, that's the one secret of his that he's not ashamed of in the slightest, proudly defending that ballet helps him achieve great feats of physical prowess, and that one of his favorite wrestlers practices it for the same reason.
- The last twist in Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders. The gang is suspicious about the mechanic who's supposed to be fixing the Mystery Machine as he's extremely rude towards them and very secretive, and they find alone out in the desert when he's supposed to be working on the van. He ends up being a Red Herring, but they're still curious as to what he was doing in the desert, so they decide to ask. Reluctantly, he reveals that he's been collecting and pressing wild desert flowers. He then explains he doesn't like to tell people about it because if they find out he has a soft side, they would walk all over him.
- In an episode of The Critic, Duke decides to run for President. When he reveals to Bob Dole that he's trying to get the Republican nomination, Dole threatens to release a video of Duke reading a poem to one of his cats and sobbing uncontrollably. Duke then backs down and says he'll run as an independent.
- Camp Lazlo: Edward has a Barbie-like doll called Veronica that he loves dearly. He plays with her in secret so as to not let the other campers know.
- This is a recurring theme with Spinelli on Recess—and what makes it especially odd is that Spinelli is a girl. She's an extreme Tomboy and prides herself on being the toughest kid in the whole school. Many of her featured episodes center on her having some hidden aspect that she doesn't think is sufficiently tough, including her talent for ballet, her skill in schoolwork, her love of animals, her parents being overly sweet and kindly, and even her first name, Ashley. As such, Spinelli is often forced to choose between protecting her "rep" or being honest with her friends.
- In the episode "Prince Randall," the titular character is at the mall when he sees King Bob, the most powerful person on the playground, being forced to model dresses for his older sister while she shops. Randall snaps a photo of Bob in one of the dresses and uses it as blackmail to gain unchecked power. The Recess Gang ultimately saves the day by passing out copies of the photo to the whole student body and then encouraging everyone to share the embarrassing things their own older relatives make them do, which helps the kids accept Bob and breaks Randall's hold on him.
- The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald had Hamburglar become livid in "The Monster O'McDonaldland Loch" when Birdie inadvertently reveals to the others that he sleeps with a teddy bear.