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I went to watch a movie over the weekend. Never mind what the movie was or who was in it! It was something else that caught my attention and kind of stumped me and kept me wondering. During the intermission, while the world goes out to buy Nachos, popcorn and yucky burgers, I sit through all the ads and trailers of upcoming films. I love watching these and I am one grumpy person if somebody suggests that I go buy a coke during this time.  I do not know what is special about these adverts/trailers but I love it!

So there I sat in all anticipation and then it hit me. For 15 minutes non-stop, they showed one advert after the other for men’s beauty products. There was a face gel to help clear oil and blackheads. There was a face cream to make the man fair and handsome and I think there was a hair gel for the golden locks. Er….what is going on here?

First of all, without sounding like a provincial prejudiced individual, the phrase, men’s beauty product is kind of oxymornonish. (Beauty products anyway leave me cold. I am all for cleanliness and being well groomed but let’s not go overboard here, regardless of the gender. I mean there are more important things in this world that fake eye lashes) I mean I know there are beautiful men, but that is not a term that I would popularly associate with this gender. I mean George Cloony is a lot of things – sexy, suave, charming, handsome etc but not beautiful…..right? Also I grew up on the diet of Captain Alex Randalls (The Shadow of the Moon) and Fritzwilliam Darcy (Pride and Prejudice) and these men did not do pretty. But over the last couple of years, there is this media led push for men that besides being handsome, rugged, caring, sensitive, intelligent, financially well off, they also have to be fair with smooth skin. I think we are pressurizing the guys way too much! Besides, if he is a great guy, do I really care if he has a smooth skin with no black heads? I mean really, whatever are we expected to do next?

I was sounding these thoughts to a friend of mine and she said that these products are designed to cater for the “metrosexual”. Per Wikipedia again (my most favoured, always there and almost always accurate source), a metrosexual is a term coined to define men who are metropolitan and heterosexual, who invest both time and money on their personal looks. It refers to men who indulge in pedicures and facials, practice aromatherapy and spend freely on clothes like dress shirts (what the hell is a dress shirt- either it’s a dress or a shirt!) and are extremely conscious of their appearances. They might be straight, gay or bisexual or whatever! I am sure, most girls will be extremely happy to find an intelligent, relatively sensitive, funny guy, but they will not go pedicuring with them. I do think that the young mother’s I know will not sing, and here I am quoting Jay Livingston “Now I have children of my own. They ask their mother what wil I be. Will I be handsome, will I be rich?”

Now I am sure there are men out there who the very embodiment of metrosexuals and Wikipedia does after all quote David Beckham, Brad Pitt and Channing Tatum as examples of 21st century metrosexuals; but what I want to know is how many real men…you know the guys you hang out with, your boyfriend/husband, the guy next door or the men you work with actually indulge in all such grooming activities. Again,  I want to state that all of us, regardless of our gender should take care of our personal grooming and appearances, but how many everyday guys really go for aroma therapy that opens up clogged skin pores? The guys I know and this could be an old school thing, actually laugh through such adverts and do NOT want to compete for the Most Beautiful Man of the 2012 award, though many of them are narcissist. And if there are not many such men out there, who are all these adverts catering to? Why is my 15 minutes of vicarious pleasure of trailer watching being subsumed with stuff nobody buys? More importantly, as humanity moves forward in directions away from traditional mores that bind an individual (especially women who are trying hard not to let such equation work anymore), are we not going back in time where appearances more than characters matter, only this time the gal is replaced by a guy!

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