Reinventing Masculinity, One TikTok at a Time

Liam Kalhagen does his masculinity differently than most people. And in less than a year, the Southern Oregon University goalkeeper and student in Social Media & Public Engagement has developed a huge following on TikTok by showcasing his personal takes on makeup, fashion and fitness for men.

Photograph of young man in soccer uniform standing by goal
Liam Kalhagen’s mix of sports, fashion and gender fluidity has helped him build a TikTok audience of more than 300,000 followers

Kalhagen began posting on TikTok in January 2020, and recently passed 300,000 followers. He began by posting videos on fitness, but more recently has expanded into themes of fashion, sexuality and toxic masculinity.

Many of Kalhagen’s videos show him modeling new clothes and expressing himself through different outfits. Outside of TikTok, he is also a professional model, a career he hopes to pursue full-time after graduating.

“I’m all over the board when it comes to my videos,” Kalhagen said. “I don’t really stick to one thing. However, if I had to pick a favorite it would be my outfit videos. They are the most fun to make, and I love fashion.”

He currently pursues sports and lifestyle modeling via a Portland agency, but hopes to move toward more fashion modeling in the future. And, in spite of the pandemic, he has connected with several notable TikTok creators in person, including Noah Millz, whose follower count clocks in at 2.7 million.

Among Kalhagen’s progressive views on masculinity, he advocates for cosmetics and makeup for men, for which he says he has received just a little backlash from his audience.

Screen capture of TikTok feed shows multiple selfies of Liam Kalhagen

“I have received comments,” he said, “but nothing too big and nothing that I have taken to heart. Honestly, when I came out as bi, I was surprised by the lack of hate comments I read.”

You can also find Kalhagen on Instagram, but with fewer followers, which he believes is due to the different algorithms the two platforms use.

“TikTok is the easiest platform to grow a fan base on,” he said. “The algorithm makes it easy for people to find your account in comparison to Instagram, where it’s much harder to get traffic through your account.”

Story by Autumn Micketti (@mountainmusicwoman), Community Manager for the Communication Program at Southern Oregon University.

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