As The Makeup Blogger’s resident pop culture anthropologist, the 2017 Golden Globes stood out in a number of ways to me. It wasn’t just Meryl Streep’s speech or the triumph of diversity, it was the egregious use of male bronzer. Perhaps it was my friend’s HDTV, or maybe it was the poor blending job along several hairlines and ears. I’m not going to name names to protect the guilty, but I may have pointed at the screen and laughed. (I wanted to tweet and laugh, but I’m on a Social Media Diet at the moment.) It seems I’m not the only one who noticed.
Now, I know this isn’t the first year male actors have donned bronzer at red carpet event. However, this was the first time I thought, maybe they requested the bronzer… or applied it themselves? Hmmm, perhaps dudes really care about how it makes them look better.
I’m not sure how I could have missed this. After all, Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” is about a number of guys (including Warren Beatty). Even going back all the way to mythological times, the term Narcissist is named after Narcissus a MAN who fell in love with his own reflection. Men invented vanity.
And it wasn’t just the bronzer. Jon Hamm dubbed this year’s Golden Globes Beard Parade 2017. These were not the Joaquin Phoenix scraggly beards of yesteryear. These were artfully groomed, perfectly manicured little face topiaries. In my opinion, it was the male equivalent of the “No Makeup” Makeup look (something meant to look effortless, but actually takes effort and care to execute).
It was then I stepped back and had my Usual Suspects Keyser Soze moment where all the information that had been hiding in plain sight finally started to piece together. It wasn’t just happening on the red carpet, male vanity is everywhere — and it’s BIG business:
- The Art Of Shaving, which boasts “elegant hand-crafted razors & shaving accessories for men,” was acquired by Proctor & Gamble.
- Unilever bought Dollar Shave Club for $1 billion.
- Male grooming grew 300% in 2015 alone.
- TrunkClub started exclusively for men, then expanded to women. Yet it’s hardly the only clothing subscription service out there for dudes.
- Check any shelf at Target and you’ll see the male equivalent of your skincare products (minus the pink tax of course). Unless you’re Justin Theroux and just get all your skincare products from Jennifer Aniston.
Men might be catching up in the self-grooming game, but they may have well surpassed us when it comes to caring about their looks. A 2016 study found that men rank body image second in importance when it comes to life satisfaction (only financial success outranked it). Women, on the other hand, ranked body image third (after financial stability and satisfaction with romantic partner). With that level of importance, it’s no surprise that male cosmetic procedures has skyrocketed 325% since 1997. Men are even getting botox injections — wait for it — in their scrotum. Ouch. And, as you’ve probably already guessed, it’s called “Scrotox”. Men don’t want wrinkles either, not even down there. If that ain’t a kick in the balls, we don’t know what is.
Is that tiny rectangle known as our phone to blame? Has the ability to photograph ourselves, share it on social media and be instantly rewarded with “likes” moved the reflecting pond Narcissus sat by into the palm of men’s hands?
Moderate vanity isn’t all bad and it can be quite motivating. If someone — man or woman — finally takes control of their health because they want to look good more than just for their overall well being, is that so terrible? And, we are visual creatures.
What it comes down to is vain men care about how they look–and just like women they’re just as concerned about their looks. They might currently lack ability to wear Spanx on their bloated days, put on that perfect red lipstick when they’re feeling blah or wear a flirty bra to a date for a secret confidence boost, but you best believe they have their stash of cologne or shoe lifts, too. If men want to wear a little bronzer to help them feel their best on the red carpet (or running for president) then go for it. Maybe as men (and women) become more open in communicating about their desire to look good we can open a dialog between the sexes and be more understanding. And most importantly, let each other know we’re not expecting for perfection in each other, so why demand it from ourselves?
Noticed male vanity is on the rise? Share the most outrageous act of male vanity you’ve witnessed recently.