That look, kind of full-of-himself and perhaps condescending, when I tell him that the male cultivates himself more than the female. While I keep explaining, that look starts changing approximately 12 seconds from my first word. I’m just at my intro and I ask the 3 magic questions:
- What car do you drive, and what does your wife drive?
- What is your hobby?
- What watch do you wear and what your wife do? Who bought them?
The turning point is the first part of the third question… The smoggy look changes to a meticulous, shy smile, usually followed by the questions “do I know you?” or “Is there a hidden camera around?”.
It’s been a while since I started reading diverse articles and researches about the topic, and I can approximate the source of our misled understanding. But that’s another day’s story.
This article, my first after years of reception, analysis and conclusions regarding male behaviour, constitutes an opening for a series of articles with a single goal – pouring my accumulated knowledge and opinions over you guys, my dear friends, as part of the main mission – a “genderic-social” change, re-convergencing men and women to a safe and harmonic life communication. Removing the shields, the obstacles.
Seeking for a new beginning, a new language – one of mutual understanding, love, endorsement and appreciation. Where there’s knowledge – there are no fears, no blocks. There’s peace.
My name is Orit Lev. over a decade ago, my status has changed from married to divorced, a change which strengthens my interest in the search and knowledge of the modern male world. As a daughter to a hard-worker and a woman who managed building projects for over a decade (a kind of contractor), I have been since then and until today exposed and curious about the male brain and language.
As longer I exposed the more listening and analyzing I did. A new male culture is rising without a concrete definition – with a staggering strength, a kind of cultural-social-personal confusion. Prejudice, stigmas, vulnerability. Maybe even a total inequality, a gender discrimination?
Today I chose to put the social debates aside, to ignore my personal opinion and focus on the specific area where I recognized a bold gender inequality – lifestyle, grooming, fashion – retail and services on which also if we take a just a glimpse – we’ll see the vast majority is directed to the female as the main consumer. The shop design, the marketing mix or even the amount of female-directed beauty saloons in contrast to male grooming shops (although the trend is raising massively in the last two years).
The grooming goods sold in the various spa facilities, or at hair and beauty salons. The amount of female-directed shop versus male-directed. The physical structure of shopping centers, large and small ones. Are these justified? does it fit the actual, modern demand?
Is the assumption that men have just started grooming themselves in recent years correct?
In my world, I find groomed, perfumed, trendy, hedonist men, regardless of their socioeconomic status. If circumstances permit, they will travel, spend time and money for entertainment activities – either as part of a group or individually. Cycling on Saturdays, fishing, hunting, hiking or even semi-professionally preparing themselves for a marathon or Ironman. Some surf, some drink and some are artists – but generally, they’re (positively) spoiled beasts prioritizing investing in themselves.
It was not hard to find bases for my claims – men are actually the dominant consumer, spending more money on themselves rather than women – and more frequently. Women “spend” more for the regards of home economy (also according to MasterCard Europe studies, 2014-2015).
Still and all, I entered the time tunnel to test the male grooming habits in history.
Did you know?! The facial hair was already represented in art when the caveman firstly picked up a carbon stone and decided to draw a man. This early art suggests face hair was long ago designed. The question of shaving it or not, long exists as a trendy fashion.
There, shaving was about cleanliness. The priests used the shaved their whole body due to fear of pests defiling their holy work.
And not just beards, male cosmetics were also extremely important for ancient Egyptians and was used by both genders. They used a variety of cosmetic goods including eyes makeup, blush and scent oils to soften the skin and protect it from the sun.
If eye makeup was an everyday product you wouldn’t be surprised to know ancient Egyptians used nail polish. Just like ancient China, the nail polish color defined the social order. Its origin was China at approximately 3000 BC, using bee wax, egg whites and vegetable colors. The lower classes in Egypt used to wear blind colors, while high-class head Red-ish Brown. Another social class and grooming symbol were the wigs, originally to protect the bold head skin and later as well as a social class determination instrument.
ANCIENT GREECE AND ROMAN PERIOD
Ancient Greece men “saloons” became super popular and took a significant part in the social life. It was a point of politic talks, sports, philosophies and even gossips. These saloons were first introduced to the Romans on 296 BC, and similarly to the Greek society – those quickly became the local talk point. A visit in the “Tonsure” became an inevitable part of the daily routine, as important as showering in the public baths or even as the boys’ first shaving ceremony.
Ruled by the first Queen Elizabeth, male makeup was then very popular, especially by enlightening their faces with a white powder. It was also the age of makeup made by lead, which caused bad health issues including deaths and was still not limited or banned.
The use of wigs then return – by 1663 the wigs fashion became significant and a blown, phony hair was considered stylish. Men used to cut their hair for the wig to fit well.
Although we’ve seen it throughout history – either as a beauty accessory, a bold-hiding device or for cultural-social reasons – the wigs were boldest at the 18th century. Then was when King Louis the 16th obsessively used wigs and makeup and therefore implemented it deeply in France’s high society. His yard-men were decorated with grandiose wigs and jewels to fit their fury high heels.
THE 30’S – THE HOLLYWOOD EFFECT
The turning point in male cosmetics was at the arrival of the cinema. Clark Gable was ‘accused’ as the one to encourage the arrogance of younger males. Elvis Presley and John Travolta seldom appeared in a movie without a comb and oil for their hair. A specific branding for male was created in no time, strengthening the male half of the cosmetic industry.
BACK TO REALITY
My journey of examining the male world, or as I call you, the male kind – has ended. I realized above all doubt I was right (I always am J).
The 2019 modern male is not afraid of wearing, selling or even writing about makeup. The wigs were replaced by transplants, the tattoos decorate or hide scars, barbershops are here. Men remove hair, sunbath, inject botox, shape their body and groom their nails.
So what has changed? As I stated at the beginning, nothing. Men have always groomed themselves.
Great Alexander was mocked on all ancient literature for being thoroughly dressed and groomed – yet has never lost a battle and ruled the world’s biggest empire. Go figure.