Why Men Need You To Groom Them


Women, take note: when the appearance of men's toenails suggest that we are either vying for a Guinness World Record—or preparing for an underground cage fighting match—feel free to mention that they've gotten a tad long. We don’t mind.

In fact, shame might be the only way for us to remember to clean ourselves up.

Hygiene is not something we consciously avoid—it's just one of the many stumbling blocks in life. In fact, we may not even be aware that we're the guy who everyone thinks smells like wet dog. But if your man is great at shaving and rinsing, you'll find an off-hand compliment from the woman in his life is often the reason.

Case in point: I have a spot on my neck that I'm sure to shave because a girl told me that she always noticed I missed that area. Mind you, that was 13 years ago: I was in the 11th grade. And so today, my neck is patch-free because of a girl I never even dated. Imagine the influence you currently wield.

It can be as easy as introducing a grooming product. Sean, an entrepreneur from Seattle, started using aftershave when his wife presented him with a bottle and suggested he try it.

"She just told me she liked how it smells. I've been using it for years now," says Sean, who never would have tried it on his own, but now applies it as liberally as an 8th grader with his first bottle of Drakkar Noir.

Men are also conditioned to listen to the women in our family. Read: Mothers and sisters should help a brother out.

For Jonathan, a literary agent in New York City, his sister explained the facts of grooming while they were growing up. He learned that brushing ones tongue and tweezing between the eyebrows are steps that signal one is ready to be seen in polite company. But it was in the area of back hair where she made the biggest impression.

"The in-between stage is horrible. Either pluck or keep your shirt on until all your hair grows in," recites Jonathan, who now prefers to pluck dutifully, rather than wait until retirement age to go swimming.

Ladies do need to be careful of how they phrase constructive criticism because beneath that dirty, hunter-gatherer exterior lies a sensitive man.

Kim, a songwriter in New York City, remembers that her college boyfriend decided to shave off his beard shortly after they started dating.

When he did, "I commented that [without it] he looked really young and a little chubbier," says Kim.

She thought it was an innocent aside; he decided not to let a razor touch his face for the duration of their 18-month relationship. And, in truth, Kim had kind of liked his clean-shaven look.

Alas, keep in mind, even if we're making an attempt to groom ourselves, most men are a work-in-progress, with approximately the same learning curve as a monkey with a can opener. Maybe slower.

Tracy, an editor in San Francisco, was shocked when she walked in on her husband rubbing Vaseline on the soles of his feet.

"You've been using this on your feet for weeks? I've been putting it on my lips!” she squealed in disgust.

Her reaction, while understandable, was not-so-positive conditioning that likely set his grooming habits back for years.

It's a fact that, since the cancellation of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy in October of 2007, men have been searching for a few good style guides. I, for example, am still looking for someone who can manage to give me a haircut that doesn't make me look like I'm wearing a toupee.

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Let's make this a regular thing!

The irony. But until I find that barber—or wake up willing to pay more than $12 for a trim—I, like my fellow menfolk, am just so much hairy clay, waiting to be shaped by well-manicured hands.