It's a growing trend these days and it seems to be getting worse. Cosmetic companies, notorious for eroding the self-confidence of women worldwide with their miscellaneous products, have started targeting men aggressively and it looks like this might be more than a passing phase. The latest Nivea for Men commercials are strangely disturbing, as they portray these two men using toner and eye gel to freshen up their pretty little faces for the day, but still try to make them look like men by showing them getting up next to their girlfriends. I guess they wanted to do that to make sure that the distinction was clear, that they are, in fact, targeting straight men and not gay men with their new line of blue products- but let's face it, making it blue doesn't make it manly.
Where have all the manly men gone? Where are the overconfident, macho alpha males who don't 'get' makeup or sad movies? Where are the good old boys who say that they're taking Friday night off to just be with the boys, who bowl, spit, and crush beer cans on their foreheads? Where are all the air guitar playing buttheads who can't watch a live fight without throwing air punches and yelling helpful advice to the combattants?
There have been periods where it's been ok for men to experiment with makeup, hair and clothes, to show that these are fun things that men don't have to be excluded from. We all know the glam rockers of the 80s and 90s with their androgynous look, their eyeliner and hairspray, looking good and rocking out, mostly to all male audiences. There was a period in the 90s too when a lot of men were using nail polish and other accents. All of that is fine and dandy, as long as it remains fun.
But there's a point where the industry turns fun into lifelong insecurity over beauty and appearance. One of the things that women love about men and envy them for, is their self confidence. Men are raised to be confident beings. They don't spend their high school years commenting on their friends gaining a pound or wearing a bad outfit. They don't hold themselves to the standards of lingerie models. There's a reason why self-esteem campaigns are designed for young women- there's so much pressure on them to live up to a certain standard of beauty, that most of them grow into adulthood still thinking that they're ugly or overweight, when this is often not true.
For a long time, it seemed like men were impervious to all of this. Even in today's day and age where we're all supposedly so enlightened, a smart man can still overcome average looks to get a great woman. A less than average attractive woman can't do the same. And what is the most common reaction to meeting someone's wife? You generally say that they're pretty. And if they're not, you generally don't say anything at all- and believe me, we women notice that.
I can't imagine many things less sexy than a man who says "babe, can you move over for a sec so that I can put my eye roller and face gel on? Can you see the lines under my eyes? Does that look even to you? Do you think I need a little more here?" I still prefer the man who wonders what all that crap in the makeup basket is and what exactly it does. You know that man. The one who wonders why you even need makeup, why you spend so much on it, why you leave the basket so close to the can, what that little stick thing does. That man.
Of course, selling insecurity is just so profitable. Cosmetic companies are well aware that the social model of the man is standing in the way of generating profits across the entire demographic. That's still no good reason to turn them into women. The insecurity over looks isn't the best part about being a woman either- if men wanted to take a page out of our book, they could learn to be more considerate rather than learning the intricacies of mascara.
Men should resist the For Men trend as long as possible. They should even scorn it. Stick to a shower, shave and a haircut. Keep it simple and stay confident.