A recent episode of a bizarre reality show on VH1 called Strip Search included a scene in which 15 men (competing to fulfill their life dreams of becoming strippers) take it all off. They have big muscles and tattoos, but weirdly, about half of them are also wearing necklaces or bracelets and had a great deal of “product” in their locks. The scene also confirms that chest hair is out, again, this season. A few years ago, it became acceptable—trendy, really—to identify oneself as a “metrosexual,” an exceedingly well-groomed man who wears a different bright, striped shirt every day—and maybe a little lip gloss.
At first, women were pleased to see the jagged toenails get filed, the clothes fit better, and armpit funk traded in for Gaultier’s “Le Male.” But at this point, men are starting to look just plain girly. Every time I get my nails done lately, there’s a dude next to me, not even looking ashamed. Which is OK, I guess (buff only—we can see clear polish!). But there’s a world of difference between getting a close shave and getting your eyebrows shaped, guys.
Sure, part of me likes the idea that, since women feel compelled to manicure their pubic hair, men should be likewise tortured. But in reality, it’s weird to see hairless, spray-tanned men, especially when they’re wrestling each other (every episode of Real World, Road Rules Challenge, Kept, etc.). And it’s not just a New York thing, or a “metro” thing, even. Men in suburbs everywhere are getting chin implants and breast reductions. And it’s not just yuppies. Hip-hop guys and hipsters may have different ideals, but either way they seem to need at least as much mirror time as their girlfriends.
Levi’s, a brand based on cowboys and rugged comfort, has raised a lone voice, planting a seed for the inevitable metrosexual backlash. Their new hilarious ad, with the slogan “501: Uncomplicate,” depicts a scary world where soap has become aromatherapy, the gym has become the yoga studio, and beer has become low-carb. In the end, the manly man, driven to the brink of insanity, runs home and clutches his worn-in 501s with great relief.
For Father’s Day, give the gift of man-pampering, but remember to keep it simple. For example, a straight razor shave at the Art of Shaving, not a back-wax at Nikel; a Polo shirt from Century 21, not a rainbow-striped number from Paul Smith; or a nice pair of 501s, not hip-hugging Sevens—for fuck’s sake.