Friday, 9 November 2012

Beautiful Boy: A ramble in defence of boys who pamper

I have always been one of those kinda guys. Y'know the kinda guys I mean, the kinda guys who have almost unnervingly neat eyebrows, who have skin, which glows with more exuberance than a swaddled babe and a who radiate a whole spectrum of whimsical scents, from peppermint toes to sandalwood armpits. Bottom line, I look after myself and enjoy doing so and guess what, I'm not the only one.

 Boys Allowed?

I have to admit, whilst I have more cosmetic products than my own mother, my regimes are pretty simple. I keep on top of my nails on a weekly basis, moisturise daily, exfoliate weekly, apply face masks when hungover and hair-remove before beachwear season. However, whether or not you think this is extreme or mundane, I'm just one of a whole squad of lads that are taking better care of their appearance. Call us metrosexual, call us pretty-boys, call us what ever you want (except Joey Essex) but we're men of the millennium and we deserve our slice of the beauty industry.

Now, this ramble isn't all coming from nowhere, I've had beef with beauty for a long time. What with the launch of the new concept in beauty retail by Harvey Nichols in Liverpool this week, beauty has never been so big. But it has also continued to exclude menfolk. Whilst I've written countless collumns on hair, skin and fake tan and even though I've been to more dayspas than football games I am still often disappointed when I discover that the industry isn't quite ready for a manly invasion.

Case in point: I recently took advantage of a rather fabulous GroupOn voucher where I received a back massage, manicure, pedicure, facial and eyebrow wax at a local salon for the bargain price of £25.00! I excitedly booked my appointment and looked forward to some much needed TLC. What I received was quite different.

The graphics from the GroupOn voucher, man-friendly?

The therapist, as lovely as she was, wasn't expecting a man. (This is one of the disadvantages of a unisex name like Jordan.) The poor girl was a little flustered when running through the nail polish colour options for my manicure, until I calmed her nerves and said that I'd be fine with a dab of cuticle oil and a buff. She was even more worried when it came to my eyebrows and resorted to ditching the wax in favour of the tweezers out of fear of making me look "gay". In all the poor girl's flurry she even forgot my pedicure, my tootsies will never forgive her. Basically, I received a less-than relaxing treatment all because of the fact that I am a man.

How are we ever to evolve into a more attractive species if 50% of the population are confronted with this kind of nonsense whenever we want a casual buff, rub and file?

Luckily, I have some suggestions:

Firstly, we need to ensure our therapists and beauticians are trained on male clients before they receive their qualifications because it isn't fair to them and it isn't fair on us.

Secondly, we need to either consider cleansing the word 'beauty' of some it's feminine connotations, and make it more unisex, or come up with another word for men's beautification. Perhaps MOT for Manly and Ordinary Treatments? Perhaps Aesthetics, like athletics only prettier? Whatever we do, we need to start broadening the vocabulary surrounding moisturiser and manicures because it's ill-equipped to represent practises no longer reserved for females.

Thirdly, we need to get used to seeing men in treatment and encourage more demonstrations within our shopping centres and department stores, just like with women's beauty. Harvey Nichols' Beauty Bazaar has lead the way into recognising beauty as a stand-alone entity within the premium retail sector, perhaps it could also pioneer in making beauty one for the boys too?