Manscaping: the removal or trimming of hair on a man’s body for cosmetic effect.
Though the term is relatively new, the concept has been around since human beings first showed up on the planet. Mostly, it had to do with hairdos and the arrangement and trimming, or not trimming, of facial hair. Nowadays, though, a man’s entire body is the palette upon which time and money are spent to depilate, sculpt, trim, weave, transplant and color. To what end?
An old adage comes to mind: Clothes make the man. I always took that to mean that however a man is dressed, that defines him in the public’s perception. Hairstyles do also and there are many from which to choose. With the current trend of “manscaping,” the emphasis is on removal of hair from a man’s privates and even going so far as to bleach one’s sphincter. Seriously?!
The problem I see with this is that it’s all just about “window dressing.” It’s true that how a man dresses and styles himself says something about him, but that’s really only observing the surface. Take all of that away and what we’re left with is just a man. Even if we’re buffed and looking like Adonis, take away the musculature and what we’re left with is a man, unadorned, bereft of societal conventions, standards and fads.
I’d like to offer a different focus for manscaping: the inner person. Men in general have been going through a kind of metamorphosis as they wrestle with the long-held paradigm of what defines a man, whether to integrate the yin with their yang and to what degree, and how to maneuver through a society that likes to label and compartmentalize men into a black and white stereotype. No man is left untouched by the spectrum of male “types” and the maelstrom of criticism that seems to accompany all of them.
My mother, when fed up with me, would say, “Handsome is as handsome does.” Even at a young age, I immediately grasped the enormity of this statement. In my early forties, I added to that by posing the question: “Who am I?” and then created a list of positive adjectives describing myself. I also wrote a “My Purpose” statement. For my adjectives, I chose the declarative and affirmative statement “I am …”:
Those adjectives became something of a mantra for me as I strove to not just practice them but to be them on a daily basis. Twenty-six years have passed since I created that list and they have become second nature to me now, a mindset and way of life. Because of them, my empathy quotient has risen, and I no longer believe in an “us versus them” paradigm.
I also no longer experience a rollercoaster of emotions in any of my personal and business relationships but am far more neutral in my communications preferring to travel the middle path that seeks wisdom and understanding for everyone’s benefit.
As for my purpose statement, I wrote:
The purpose of my life
is to be a multi-dimensional teacher and student
sharing knowledge, love, and wisdom
with all the miraculous and magical beings I meet.
Okay, that was written in the mid-90s when I was really into metaphysics and body-mind-spirit, so in today’s world it has a rather cliché, saccharine feel to it. But since then, the major focus of my life has been about “being of service to all of humanity and life” rather than simply being focused on myself and my wants, needs and agendas.
What I discovered in the process of answering the question “Who am I?” is that life isn’t about the “window dressing” but instead what I consistently radiate outwardly to the world that originates from the absolute core of my being. That person enlivens, celebrates, uplifts and nurtures life. What I came to realize is that the greatest gift I can give myself and anyone else is the truest essence of myself — life is entirely about authenticity.
That seems not to be the goal for many people. Instead, we have examples of mega-personalities, people who appear to have everything — beauty, fame, wealth, a huge social media following — and they’re unhappy and ungrounded. They’re often not very nice human beings to be around either. They’re demanding, arrogant, selfish, egotistical, grasping, petty, angry, spiteful, mean, entitled, cynical, disrespectful and immature. In short, emotionally stunted. They are completely reliant on — and often addicted to — the external gratification derived from the attention they garner.
Much of our society is deeply ensconced in a system of external praise and rewards. We strive to attain medals, awards, titles, positions and degrees that denote status. Meanwhile, development of who we are inside is put on the back burner because surviving in society with all its requirements, responsibilities and demands is a full-time job. And let’s not forget all the distractions and stimuli with which we’re confronted 24/7.
Who we are is usually attended to sporadically and given short-term attention or dismissed altogether. We’re so consumed by either life’s challenges or finding ever-more outrageous ways to escape.
I can only wonder what answer we’d give if asked, “How’s that working out?” Clearly, the answer is “Not so well.” One look at the state of the world today proves that. Manscaping one’s inner self could mitigate so much of that and dramatically transform our world.
So now is a good time to reverse this situation because the path we’re on denigrates life, demeans us individually and collectively, traps us in constant ego indulgences and is destructive on multiple levels.
Try the exercise of developing a list of positive descriptors (beginning with “I am … “) and create a “My purpose” statement, both of which you can choose to live by and practice in all your relationships.
Another list you can create would be all the negative things you might consider yourself to be, for example: thoughtless, self-centered, avoidant, opinionated, addicted, myopic, insecure, blaming, gossipy, dishonest, over-talkative, shallow, disrespectful, undisciplined, lazy, obsessive, judgmental, aloof, etc.
Now, juxtapose the “negative” list against the “positive” list. If you’re like most people, you’ll immediately decide which one you’d prefer to be and put energy into practicing. Imagine how different your interactions with people will be, the more connected you’ll be in your relationships and what you’ll receive in return.
The adage “never judge a book by its cover” is most apt here. We don’t want others to do that to us and the only way to minimize that is by what we exude from within, not by our clothes, hairstyle or accoutrements. People will pick up on the energy you radiate. If you’re sincere and genuine and not decked out in societal conventions, then what you present is what people will gravitate to. They will then feel more inclined to reciprocate — and thus the world is transformed.
Just remember: The greatest gift you can give yourself and anyone else is the truest essence of yourself.