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It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul. 
W.E. Henley 

There was this piece about Stokes a apropos Veterans' Day and I could not resist to post about him here. On the one side, all the men in his upcoming photo book are outstanding just by having been in combat. The photos are of veterans of the Gulf Wars, mainly Army and Marines. Add to that the fact that they were hurt in battle and you have an absolute statement that obliterates your usually frivolous coffee table book into tiny pieces.

This photographer has captured lighting in a bottle. Being beautiful is much more than just the fantastic bodies we see here. These men are beautiful because of the 'imperfections' they have: a missing limb, battle scars. They are beautiful because they have overcome possibly insurmountable odds. Their beauty is more than skin deep, even though all of them have bodies trained for battle. Beauty here also definitely goes beyond the being 'able', given that these men probably needed a long time in physical therapy to master the metal limbs that help them move freely. Beauty here is defined by courage, by overcoming adversity, by bravery.

We sometimes tend to fixate on the obvious, the tangible, the outward. When what counts really is what's in the inside, hidden, not visible. Why do we tend to be so vacuous? So superficial? I'd rather be left in a jungle with one of these men than with a gym bunny who would be upset if he cannot get his latte and his protein shake before 9:00 am. No matter how pretty (and 'whole') that Adonis could be.

These men I'm sure have a tale to tell. Some may even have PTSD after the terrible battle accidents that almost costed them their lives. But I'm also sure they all have a very strong spirit. A backbone. Resilience. Intelligence. Something that the crowd that fixates on what they find by clicking an icon on their phones would never understand. Because they're fixated on obvious traits of masculinity, and those are not what a man make.


Michael Stokes


  1. wow...sobering photos. what if there had been no war for these brave men to lose parts of themselves?

  2. I’ve seen Michael Stokes’ work. Sobering, yet magnificent work. The sacrifice that his subjects made for the country they love is obvious. But as you said there is much more there. The mental and emotional scars not always captured by the camera. Yet they persevere and live the life they cherish. We should be forever grateful for the sacrifice of so many in service to our country.

    Thanks for the post, Sugar.

    XOXO 👨‍❤️‍💋‍👨

  3. The photographer should be commended for showcasing this. The guys are all handsome and are like any other. I hooked up with a guy once with a fake leg. Had no idea. He was quite good in bed I might add.


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