For decades women have been painting their faces and powdering their noses before leaving the house. Now millions of North American men are doing the same. If you’re scratching your head and thinking I’ve gone nuts, consider the fact that cosmetic sales for men have doubled in the last five years in the US, and male grooming has become a $5 billion per year market.
More than ever, men have started wearing make-up. Not mascara, eyeshadow and glitter, but moisturizer, foundation and lip balm. They’re using natural-looking cosmetics to even out their skin tones and enhance their appearance in an effort to become more handsome.
Why not? Good looking men have an edge over their competition – with the ladies and in the workforce. If you don’t think so, just ask guy-lining dudes like George Clooney, Johnny Depp and David Beckham.
A bright, flawless complexion is attractive no matter what gender you are, and men are starting to understand that.
Personally, I have mixed feelings about this.
On one hand I think it’s about time. Why shouldn’t males have access to some esthetic trickery like us females? It’s been proven time and time again that being more physically appealing can give us an advantage in life. Cosmetics can also be expressive and delightfully fun.
On the other hand I wonder if men could eventually end up in the same boat that many of us women are – feeling like our faces aren’t good enough in their natural state.
I hate to admit it, but I won’t even go to the gym without mascara on. I wasn’t always like this, though.
When I was a kid I used to wonder why it took my mom so much longer to get ready in the morning than the rest of us. I couldn’t understand why she felt the need to style her hair and put on make-up when she looked beautiful already. And after she spent all that time in front of the mirror, I’d barely see a difference.
“I like to look natural,” she’d explain. “Make-up shouldn’t make us look like clowns, it should be used to enhance what we already have.”
I would then be left wondering why my dad, uncle and papa didn’t do the same. It looked to me like men needed more sprucing up than the women did.
By the time I became a teenager I fell prey to the societal norms and started obsessing about my looks as well. Fussing with my hair and my face, among other things, I would envy males and their wash-and-go lives.
After 30 years of applying make-up and styling my lid, I now look at the lovely, fresh faces and unprocessed hair of my 12-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter, and hope they feel less concerned about their appearance as they get older.
But with the continuing boom in cosmetic products and procedures, that pressure is likely to get worse.
As parents, I think one of the best things we can do for our children is to teach them that their true value comes from within, and how they appear on the outside is far less significant.
As for being adults in this ever-increasing vanity-filled world we’ve created for ourselves, perhaps we could all agree to give up our beauty products and procedures and go au naturel for the rest of our days.
Not going to happen? Fine. I’ll keep wearing mascara to the gym, and I hope to see you there with your glitter.
Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. You can contact her at www.LoriWelbourne.com