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They Want Their Mani/Pedis

Vivia Chen

June 19, 2013

319px-Vulcan_Coustou_Louvre_MR1814I hate to admit it, but I'm not nearly as evolved as I should be. Some readers think that I'm some sort of a radical feminist, but let me assure you, I am so not liberated.

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).

It's all perfectly logical for men to use every beauty trick available because looking good "is about power and seduction," says The Daily Beast. So,"why wouldn’t men employ tools that would stealthily make them appear to be more attractive, healthier, and generally successful?"

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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Do people seriously care that men are painting their nails?

I think it's great if men want to paint their nails. They are being humans and can whatever they want to do to their bodies.
Great response, Mark!

I have a lot more to say on this subject, because the duplicity really bugs me. Nailpolish is really car paint. Really! I like red and blue on my cars and motorcycles, why would I not on this rather drab canvas that I'm "allowed" to have as a fellow?

I color too, ad you can surmise. Yes it raises eyebrows. When I question that I never get a reasonable response. My response is that I like the look. I like color. But they never ever have any other response than, well, uh, only women do that. When I ask why, man, the deer in headlights look comes on really fast. Lol.

Look, OK don't care if people like it or not, but if not, then before making a judgment, please ask me, but if you don't ask, then please just assume that I like it. I think it's cool, it's a bi rt of color whatever. Do not go the gay thing. I'm married, straight, not even remotely bi, have 3 kids, have slept with more women than I can keep track of by now, before being married, as and always have ranked in the top 5. :). I mean that as fact, not brag, because I love women. And I treat them as such, because of that, and as they should be treated for whom I care for. Yet, I should be treated less so for that? I don't think so.

See, that's the vanishing point. You say "our salons". In the immortal words of Tonto, "what you mean by we, paleface". It's not your salons. Nor was it your jobs, or pants, or education, yada yada yada. It has only been a collective "ours"female and males. Salons, jobs, pants, whatever. But the character of the individual is what is the key fact. Women, even more than men, when you think about it, have been so brainwashed by media. You earned the jobs, and pants, yet at the same time want to be vanquished by macho, manly men, and those, who BTW are the bravest of them all, by showing color, rather than hiding it, are derided for it by the very same brave sisters that fought for their expression. See anything odd in that?

Times are always changing there used to be a time when women didn't wear pants. So if the times are changing that men want mani/pedi's then all the power to them.

I think if a guy wants to where pink nail polish all the power to him, you just won't see me wearing any nail polish.

How do you know that men painting their nails is not a real trend? Because The New York Times profiled it as a trend.

Maybe you can distinguish this one for me. I know a high power woman corporate and securities lawyer who concentrates better when knitting. Really. She knits thoughtlessly at conference tables, and put the needles down when needing to speak at length or write.
It drove her partners to distraction, until they realized just how well she was listening, and lawyering. Her needles are now as accepted as someone's wheelchair. If a mani/pedi makes my male lawyer feel more grounded and secure, why not?

You go boy.

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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: [email protected]

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