Case in point: I really don't get some of the latest trends in male grooming.
Take what's happening at my neighborhood nail salon. All of a sudden, men are popping up at the chair next to me, rolling up their pants, and dunking their hairy legs into the foot bath for pedicures. Hey, I know it's a free country, and everyone has a right to get his nails clipped, cuticles trimmed, and nails buffed to a sheen. But, seriously, do guys really, really need mani/pedis?
Increasingly, the answer is yes. Not only are men getting their nails cleaned and trimmed—but they're wearing visible nail paint too.
The New York Times recently reported on this trend. It profiled Tom McMahon, a burly federal budget analyst in Arizona, who regularly goes to the nail salon with his wife. The article says he "typically chooses a decidedly bold color for his toes, often either China Glaze’s Gaga for Green, a hue that brings Kermit the Frog to mind, or Gargantuan Green Grape, a pastel by OPI that suggests pistachio ice cream."
So how did it become acceptable for men to sport nail polish? It's the old slippery slope: Once they got their foot through the door of our nail salons, it was inevitable that they'd want all their toes and fingers painted too. “Guys getting a colored or clear polish is sort of a natural progression from going to get a manicure or pedicure,” said Will Welch, a senior editor at GQ, to the NYT.
And what else are our hunky office mates doing? Some are also wearing makeup and getting Botoxed. And don't get me started on some of the other trends that I find baffling (like, why are men with shaved chests the latest rage?).
The Daily Beast reports that the men's grooming industry (don't call it "makeup"—puh-leeze!) is booming:
The long arm of gender equality has extended its reach past the boardrooms and into our bathrooms (and medicine cabinets). American consumers spent over $5 billion on men’s grooming products last year, over half of which went into skin care and cosmetics, according to the market data firm Euromonitor International (in 1997, by way of comparison, they spent $2.4 billion).
I can live with the "stealth" efforts, but I really have to draw the line with nail paint, eyeliner, and blush on men. (See, I told you I'm old school.)
But let's be honest: Would you want your lawyer to show up at a meeting wearing steely-blue nail polish? Is it leveling the field that (some) men are now spending almost as much time and money as women dolling themselves up?
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