Men are only recently comfortably embracing the concept of male beauty. Here’s why.
Newsflash! American men now are more style and health conscious than they’ve ever been. But, why now? Why did it take this long? The reasons are below.
1. Our dad’s didn’t eat salads. This reason is more relevant with Generation X men or Baby Boomers. If you were born in 1953, or 1973, this makes more sense to you. Men from either of these generations were reared by hard, tough guys (dads). Guys who are red meat…and pretty much nothing but red meat. And they drank beer. Not the sexy craft/wheat beer that you or I drink. Our old men and grandfathers drank Pabst Blue Ribbon. Milwaukee’s Best (Beast). Meth in a can. And they smoked. Cigarettes. Like several packs a day. Our fathers (many of them) weren’t the least bit concerned about taking care of themselves health wise or cosmetically.
I’m not sure if it was the world wars, or the depressions and the constant national upheaval of the 20th century, but the men of yesteryear seemed to have a “I’m the toughest sonofabitch in this room, and I’ll eat and drink anything and survive” mentality. Male dieting and cosmetic care barely existed for past male generations. And many of us men grew up with nearly the same habits our dad did. It’s only really been in the last decade that (a good number of them) men (straight men. Gay men have been running circles around straight guys and laughing at them for years) have really begun to take care of themselves.
2. The metro-sexual/pretty boy zone. For years, guys didn’t want to be seen as “pretty” boys. Whether that’s about the American male “code” of being tough, or a form of homophobia, for a long time, guys who were into their looks and male style had an unwritten rule: look handsome, but not “pretty”. As a man, you wanted to check yourself out in the mirror, but not too long. You were supposed to match your outfit, but not coordinate it. Men were afraid of being considered near-feminine.
Roughly a decade ago, the term “metro sexual” entered the lexicon, and many men had a new word to fear. If your haircut was too nice, you could be called a metro-sexual. If your clothes fitted a little too well, you were a metro-sexual. Metro-sexuality unfortunately, was seen, pretty much, as the gateway drug to homosexuality (it was and is still real. I live in one of the least progressive parts of the midwest.)
Currently, it looks like men nationally are actually lining up to be metro-sexuals. Why? Maybe it’s due to Generation X hitting middle age, and having a collective midlife crisis. Or, it could be because straight men are starting to realize that …attractive women like attractive men. Dunno. But, it looks like American male ideas and standards of beauty are changing.
3. Men are just learning how to be beautiful. As a Gen X’er, I can tell you that for years, male early morning prep time was pretty simple. Shower, brush my teeth, shave, put on deodorant, and then clothe myself. If I did go to a gym, it was to gain bulk and muscle, not to tone my body. And the stuff I used to clean myself, soaps, etc., were very basic.
Today, male cosmetic options/items are insanely plentiful. Male body washes. Male body sprays (not cologne. Spray. There’s a difference, I’ve recently realized). Tons of different body washes and sprays. Male lotion. Tons of different kinds of male lotion. A dizzying array of colognes. Basically, in 2014, men have consumer options that they didn’t have even a decade ago. Straight men, if anything, are having a Renaissance of sorts concerning male beauty. Even going to the gym is different for men now. It’s not uncommon to find guys in yoga and spinning classes. And they may not even hit the weight room! Never before have there been so many “tools” for men to help them find their inner matinee idol.
Photo Jessie Pearl/Flickr