In recent years, the very concept of masculinity has changed immensely. With the rise of metrosexual culture and male beauty products, notions of what manliness actually is have undergone huge transformations as have male attitudes to clothing and social stigma towards pampering for men.
Masculinity is no longer considered the domain of the old school “man’s man” and society has now accepted, for the most part, male vanity; grooming and preening have found themselves firmly entrenched in mainstream culture. Many men have embraced standing out by giving their image some thought and effort but it has also led others to speculate how far can we push masculinity?
Shifting Ideas Of Masculinity
The clearest change brought about by these developments now is how much men are expected to be in control of their image at all times; the choices of clothes they wear are now judged in a way they have not always been traditionally speaking.
Judgements are just as likely to be made on first appearances for men as they are for women and male grooming has become a big part of this. Yet, despite these changes, the degree in which men immerse themselves in fashion and beauty issues vary to large amounts from person to person. Whilst some men will happily indulge in beauty regimes, others wonder if straying too far away from the traditional image of masculinity is a bad idea.
In trying to remain “macho” in the older sense of the word, some men will refuse to even consider momentarily the idea of using products on their skin – for example, some who suffer from dry or irritable skin may refuse to use moisturiser as they believe doing so would be overly feminine and an affront to their manliness.
Similar defensiveness can be seen in the stigma towards men’s bags from some quarters – the fact that bags targeted towards males are called “man bags” in an attempt to overtly state their masculine qualities is part of a decided marketing approach aimed at addressing some men’s fears that carrying bags should be left exclusively to women.
Whilst some men should perhaps be more open-minded about their approach to fashion and beauty, it could also be stated that other men need to give much less attention and concern to this area as they oftentimes will find themselves in pain or injury whilst trying to pursue this. Recent studies have shown that, as well as allowing themselves to fall into financial difficulty, many men will neglect their health as part of their beauty regime and will overuse sunbeds or even botox.
The same study found that 60% of men asked admitted they wear ill-fitting shoes on a daily basis simply to look better – aside from lesser injuries such as blisters, long-term adoption of ill-fitting shoes can lead to serious problems in the feet and leg joints and particularly affect posture and the back’s muscles.
Whilst trying to achieve a better image for ourselves is never to be frowned upon, it is safe to say that when health becomes an issue the line for how far we should push vanity is drawn quite thoroughly. Whilst the men’s luxury market is growing year on year, and expanding at a much quicker rate than the female one, it is imperative that both men and women approach the beauty market with care.
Rather than be an issue of masculinity or femininity, oftentimes, beauty regimes are a matter of safety. As long as the individual is not putting their own health at risk, then the degree to which they are comfortable in exploring, or not exploring, their own pampering is entirely up to them.
Keith is a fashion writer who is not afraid to carry mens bags or use moisteuriser.