How much grooming does a male require? "Manscaping" and more explored.
These days, most guys have gotten the metrosexual memo: They keep their nails clean, embrace the idea that Irish Spring shouldn’t double as shampoo, and some even allow spouses to gleefully weed-whack their unibrows. But venture below the chin (we’re talking chest, back, shoulders, and nethers), and it’s still a no-fly zone, grooming-wise. Or was.
In certain Hollywood circles, rumors of x-treme manscaping are beginning to circulate. The latest trend, gaining in popularity, is known, poetically, as the “back, crack, sack wax,” raising the question: How low do you want him to go? Most women who value manly men don’t want their partner transformed into Mr. Bigglesworth, and yet most of us might give the green light to a little “lite” maintenance for the hairier sex.
Then, if you do come down on the side of manscaping, how to broach the subject? Delicately, to be sure. And don’t be afraid to offer a bribe, says John Esposito, co-founder and co-owner of Truman’s Gentlemen’s Groomers in New York City. “Get him a gift certificate to a salon, and make it fun,” he suggests. And if your fuzzy-wuzzy honey still insists on wearing his thatches like bearish badges of manhood, here are five reasons for him to reconsider:
Survival of the trimmed-est.
“Men have become more objectified through the media and advertising, and that has raised both self-awareness and competitiveness among [them],” says Michael Flocker, author of The Metrosexual Guide to Style: A Handbook for the Modern Man. “The result is that people stay single longer and are more selective in choosing their mates, so for better or worse, you have to work a little harder to stand out.”
YourTango Tip: According to Philips Norelco, 50 percent of men aged 20 to 49 body groom—try asking your partner if he really wants to be the only guy on the beach wearing a “sweater” this summer.
He can get drunk while getting shorn.
We admit, it’s got to be intimidating for a guy to walk into a salon full of women, and say, “One back wax, please.” Enter the full-service men’s salon. Vic Sosikian, founder of Mark Matthew Fine Gentlemen’s Grooming Club in Los Angeles, which opened last year, describes his establishment as a “cross between a barber shop, salon, and day spa for men.” Leather arm chairs, flat panel TVs, and free alcohol create a discreet, masculine environment—not even a guy who says “I don’t do salons” can argue with this.
It doesn’t have to hurt.
Let’s not beat around the bush: As women well know, waxing smarts, and it’s not the only way to tame his tufts. “Men have been asking for an alternative to waxing,” says Sosikian. “They don’t mind [having] the hair, but they want to trim it down.” The pain-free solution? Special razors, like the Philips Norelco BodyGroom, designed for manscaping. With features like a hypo-allergenic shaving foil instead of a rotary head, it allows men to trim hair at different lengths in the privacy of their homes. But regular maintenance is required: “The problem with trimming is that it’s going to come back quickly, just like with shaving,” Esposito warns. “You’ll have to trim at least once a week.”
David Beckham’s doing it. So are porn stars.
After the trend-setting soccer star boasted about his “back, crack, sack” wax, some guys warmed to the idea of going bare. And according to Esposito, the rise of smut is also partly responsible for encouraging men to clean up their acts: There’s now pressure, he says, for men to hold themselves to the unrealistically tidy standards the industry has heretofore demanded of women. Which brings us to…
It’s payback time.
Women have endured all sorts of torture in the name of beauty, from the risk of crimping your lashes (or worse) with an eyelash curler to the agony of Brazilian waxes. In The Reluctant Metrosexual: Dispatches from an Almost Hip Life, author Peter Hyman recounts his own experience of getting a Brazilian: “I did it because I felt it was unfair for men to expect women to be perfectly groomed without at least some appreciation for what they go through,” he says. Thank you, Hyman, for taking one for the team. Esposito goes one better: “It’s not payback,” he says. “Back and chest grooming is all vanity. Grooming below the waist is just a nice thing to do for your partner.”
YourTango’s Take: Agreed. But, unlike putting the seat down, being nice to your mother, and knowing “no, you don’t look fat” is always the right answer, manscaping below the chin is optional, not something a man should be forced into. That said, we’re not above gentle cajoling. Then, with any luck, you’ll see the monkey-see, monkey-get-his-back-waxed-too effect kick in: After all, “The majority of men come in because they choose to,” says Sosikian, and Esposito concurs: “Guys realize it’s not that bad. Then they start coming in on their own.” Both agree they see an equal mix of single and taken men, which means body grooming is fair game for any male body, bachelor or betrothed. Know someone who missed the memo?