Last year, $4.8 million was spent on male grooming products in the United States, a 7% increase over the previous year and a 42% increase since 2001 (source: Euromonitor). Men’s personal care lines now include self-bronzer, concealer, and face masks, and trendy words like “metrosexual” have been tossed about to label men with a concern for their appearance.
I’m very interested in both men’s and women’s opinions on this one. Ladies raved about Johnny Depp’s eyeliner in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and Pete Wentz, lead singer of Fallout Boys, is routinely photographed wearing eyeliner, as are other male musicians. Ladies, would the same attraction to Johnny Depp’s eyeliner hold true if your boyfriend or husband decided to try the trend? What about less obvious make-up, like concealer for breakouts or dark circles under his eyes? And men, what would you be willing to try? Any of it? All of it?
Personally, I think the eyeliner and obvious make-up would only work for musicians in our society. What’s cool on the lead singer of a band would be heavily penalized for a man walking into the office or a boardroom or working behind any counter. Like long hair, it really depends on the man whether it even looks good or not.
The notion that a man who cares about his appearance should be branded with a label (metrosexual, or even ruder terms) is silly to me. Maybe most men are not as obsessed with (or judged as heavily by) their looks as most women, but pretending it’s never a concern, at all, in such an appearance-oriented society is far-fetched, to say the least. Wikipedia actually extends the definition of a metrosexual to include a man “…whose lifestyles display attributes stereotypically seen among gay men.” When did caring about your appearance render you homosexual?
I’d like to see more men drop the overly macho (and extremely annoying) persona and stop jabbing the label of homosexual at any man who openly cares what he looks like. Then again, I’d like to see more women cultivate their minds and ideas far more than their cosmetic collection, so my final opinion on the men in make-up subject is concern that the obsession with looks is diverting energy and attention from far more important issues in this world. Is the obsession a distraction in a crazy world gone wrong? Is it mindlessness?
I like the eyeliner look on a man who can pull it off, who has the attitude and personality to wear it well, but it’s a look only men in Hollywood and rock bands can likely get away with. I end up wondering if we are moving in a dangerous direction, though, where battles on sexism and stereoptypes are being fought to permit men into the agonizing and unrewarding arena of obsessing over appearance, instead of a more productive battle to focus on substance over superficial looks for everyone. Are we going the wrong way here?