More men are having liposuction, Botox injections, laser hair removal, and other cosmetic procedures.
Body modification isn’t just about tattoos, piercings, and other “fringe” activities that have become mainstream. It’s also about plastic surgery.
That’s right, plastic surgery. The same procedures that can give women bigger boobs or a tighter butt are also available to men. Want your pecs to look good without spending hours and hours in the gym? There’s surgery for that. Tired of that spare tire around your middle? There’s a surgery for that. Lips not full enough? We’ve got some botox for you. Too much hair where you don’t want it or too little where you do want it? We’ve got procedures for that.
The number of men receiving plastic surgery has increased almost every year for the last two decades. To be absolutely clear, I’m talking about activities classified as cosmetic procedures, not reconstructive surgery that occurs as a result of accidents. Although men represent only about 10 percent of the overall market, that’s still a lot of work. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons identifies cosmetic surgery for men as a source of growth.
And why not? Among minimally invasive cosmetic procedures—work routinely done in a doctor’s office—men received over 350,000 Botox injections last year. Laser hair removal and microdermabrasion were also popular; there were over 150,000 of each of those procedures for men in 2011. And men received just over eighty-five thousand “soft tissue fillers,” the category that includes lip augmentation and other slight adjustments.
Although it’s more involved, men didn’t shy away from voluntary cosmetic surgery. The most popular surgical options were nose jobs, eyelid surgery, liposuction, and (male) breast reduction, each of which were performed more than nineteen thousand times. In smaller numbers, men also went for hair transplants, facelifts, tummy tucks, pectoral implants, and buttocks implants.
Despite the ongoing recession, the total number of minimally invasive procedures increased by nearly by about 8% from 2010 to 2011, while surgical procedures edged up about 1%.
It’s not as though guys worrying about their appearance is a new thing. Esquire Magazine has been telling guys how to improve their appearance since 1932, and GQ’s been doing it since 1957.
I’m in my 40s and I grew up with the idea that men should pay some attention to their calorie count. You can thank the good folks at Miller Beer and their “Tastes Great … Less Filling” advertising campaign for that. Their introduction of “Lite” beer was the first successful mainstream advertising campaign—and launch—of a reduced calorie product targeted at men.
In the forty years since then, diet, er, lite beers have become the official beer sponsors of the NFL, MLB, the NBA, and the American segment of the NHL; the Canadian audience still gets to drink a full calorie beer. The next time you watch a game, I’ll bet you see more commercials for lite beers than regular beers.
Heck, even NASCAR has a lite beer sponsor these days (since 2007, in fact). And the “round mound of rebound,” Charles Barkley, now shills Weight Watchers for Men. Do it right, and you won’t need that tummy tuck. Or you won’t need a second one.
That’s hardly the only change. Back in the 1970s, macho men showed off their chest hair. They wore their shirts unbuttoned down to their navel and moussed that hair out. Not anymore. Most male models you see today don’t have any chest hair; a fair number don’t have hair under their arms either. Part of Andy’s makeover in The 40 Year Old Virgin included a chest wax. Laser hair removal anyone?
Playgirl centerfolds have also changed, becoming better built and even less fat over the last few decades. GI Joe has become more muscular too; Barbie’s not the only toy out there with an unrealistic body. If you’re in the market for a superhero Halloween costume for your son, it’s almost certain to include fake pecs and biceps; that certainly wasn’t part of my childhood.
For guys, the pressure may not be as intense, or obvious, as it is for girls, but it’s still there. While women still make up about 90% of the cosmetic surgery market, guys are turning to non-invasive and surgical procedures in greater numbers than ever before. If we think large-scale cosmetic surgery reflects a societal problem for women, then there’s every reason to think we’re seeing the beginning of the same problem for men.
Image credit: isafmedia/Flickr