Recently, Adrian of Sevitz admitted to spending a lot of money getting his hair and nails done and it got me thinking. Now, I’m the type of guy who still visits a barber, refuses to pay more than £10 for a haircut – my last haircut cost £6 instead of £8 because “let’s be honest love, there’s not that much left to cut” – and when my wife points out that my back is getting a little hirsute my only thought is if that is the reason I’m always so warm.

I do ‘groom’ though. I moisturise most days as I’m prone to dry skin and I am regularly attacked by a woman wielding a pair of tweezers determined to make sure my eyebrows don’t go Denis Healey on me. The same woman also takes far too much pleasure plucking hairs from my back and arms whilst muttering at me to “stop being such a wuss” when I moan and scream as the follicles are wrenched from their very comfortable resting place deep under my skin. It’s a wonder I’m not a mass of bleeding red welts once she’s finished. There is a side issue concerning the amount of glee and pleasure my wife takes in inflicting pain on me but I’ll leave that for another time.

Aside from that I don’t really bother that much with my appearance. In days gone by, when the majority of my hair was on my head not growing from increasingly weird places on my body, I took great pride in my appearance spending tens of minutes in front of the mirror each morning to make sure it was all neatly in place. In fact I wonder if it’s due to the incessant attack from a variety of mousses, gels, hairspray and wax that caused the hair on my head to decide to surrender and fall out. Back in the day I used to judge the amount of hairspray I was apply to my ‘spike’ (think ‘hedgehog’) by when it started to drip… ick.

These days it’s much more acceptable for men to partake in all manner of grooming rituals, and of course this is being promoted by most of the big cosmetic companies with new pre-shave, post-shave, and after-shower lotions are seemingly launched everyday.

However there is still a distinct feel that this isn’t wholly accepted yet.

I’ve often thought that you can judge the progress of acceptance, of pretty much anything, quite simply (as far as any simplistic scale can be applied to anything of course) as it passes from:

  1. Complete ignorance – doesn’t exist, isn’t discussed and is consider evil
  2. Outright indignance – know to exist but vilified and ridiculed in the harshest terms
  3. Admission of existence – tolerated to a point, stereotyped.
  4. Complete acceptance – it’s the norm, it’s bland

Male grooming, even to just ‘below’ metrosexual standards is probably around the fourth stage. It’s tolerated but with the understanding that there is definitely something not quite right about it, that ‘real men’ wouldn’t really be caught doing it. But then what do ‘real men’ know? Bugger all?

Of course it’s easy to push all this to one-side and peer at the homophobic underbelly but let’s not get too carried away. A few lotions and a little care in your appearance does not a homosexual make. Equally so, that fashionably dressed, coiffed and coutoured to within an inch of his gym-trim waist, man may not actually be gay! Let’s try and look beyond those stereo-types. In both directions.

It’s a bit of an odd one to be honest as, culturally, we seem to be slowly shifting away from the homophobic view of old, but I wonder if it will stall the same way the feminist movement did, leaving us with a nasty aftertaste which you can’t wash away.