Nowadays, beauty is no longer a selling point just for females. Perfectly sculpted half-naked masculine figures on billboards and the promotion of new ways to achieve “male beauty” are almost neck and neck with that of their female counterparts. No longer are nail polish, hair color and even makeup limited to the 1970’s memories of the David Bowie glam rock era or the gothic Adam Lambert “guyliner” craze. The modern ideal of male perfection is less about glitz and sparkle or intense black eyes, and more so pushing the regiments that women have done seemingly forever. Leading the way are celebrities like Johnny Depp, who regularly sports polish, eyeliner and foundation, and One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles, who allegedly once sported lipstick to one of the boy band’s film premieres.
The dominos continued to fall as famous fashion designers such as Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford launched male cosmetic products, continuing the trend’s upward climb, as well as a slew of polishing, smoothening, trimming and hair removing products specifically geared towards guys. According to a Co-Operative Pharmacy survey of 2,000 people, half of men between the ages of 18 and 55 admit to being the now-celebrated neologism “metrosexual.”
However, despite the insurgence of male grooming trends, lovingly nicknamed “manscaping” for those unaware, many men are still embarrassed to admit to using beautification products. The stigma of the “macho” male continues to permeate even the most liberal of societies, leaving much to be overcome in regards to male nail and skin care practices being viewed as normal as when a female does it. After all, the motivations of manscaping boil down to the same human trait as women: most of us want to look like those guys in the Armani and Abercrombie ads.
Last year, the YMCA reported that 38% of men they questioned said that they would sacrifice one year of their life in exchange for obtaining the perfect body. This “Adonis complex,” the obsession with achieving society’s idea of the perfect male figure, is one of the biggest factors of growing trends in male cosmetology. Men are now experiencing what women have dealt with since the Rolling Stone covers of the 1960’s: there’s a nearly impossible over-sexualized standard society tells us we should achieve with our bodies.
Despite the industry’s attempts to finally flip the tables on men, us guys have to remember that just because you clip your nails, smooth your feet or use wrinkle prevention cream, doesn’t devalue your masculinity. Society’s ideal of the modern male may include porcelain skin, expertly plucked eyebrows and a chiseled physique, but the motivation of manscaping should be for individual expression and to achieve higher self-confidence, knowing that although you may not be the flawless guy in the 2(X)ist ads, you don’t need to be because you’re perfectly YOU. Like that old saying says, true beauty still remains skin deep.
Check back here every other Friday for more reviews and tips on how guys are Nailing It when it comes to their grooming.
Image credit: Cristiano Ronaldo for Armani