Once only offering hair cuts and shaving cream, male grooming has turned into a $33 billion dollar industry.
Sydney art director Jarryd Zankovic was recently labelled as Australia’s biggest wanker by Reddit following an interview in B&T magazine about his somewhat insane grooming habits. In the interview he reveals he has been getting his eyebrows waxed since he was 12 years old and makes weekly visits to a barber to have his beard trimmed. Reddit then posted a screenshot of the page in B&T, captioning it “I think this guy just won Australia’s Biggest Wanker” with comments following such as “he sounds like a Miss America pageant participant” and “this guy is truly deserving of the title Tony Abbott currently holds”. So is there a stigma attached to male grooming? Why are we shaming one guy for caring about his appearance?
The media as a whole has influenced male grooming. For starters, television portrays glamourised images of high profile male celebrities. Watching Scott Disick on Keeping up with the Kardashians and the male cast of TV shows Jersey Shore and Geordie Shore straightening their hair and applying tinted moisturiser shows everyday men they can make the trip to Myer and ask the cosmetic ladies for a hand cream. Men’s magazines such as Men’s Style and GQ have also presented the male grooming industry in a way that makes it accessible and appealing to other men. Spreads featuring men in designer clothes with perfect hair styles allow that glamourised image to land right into your lap. Inevitably, men are going to bring the magazine to the hairdresser saying, “I’d like this please.”
Mens beautician from Mankind in Surry Hills, Alex says, “I’m not sure there is a stigma around men’s grooming. The bad connotations society is currently projecting onto this industry and Jarryd probably stem from people who wouldn’t even consume it. Mankind is fully booked throughout summer and spring, guys want to remain well kept, it’s just the way it is now. It is just taking a few people a bit longer to accept that then others.”
Men’s Grooming Day is just one of the ways male grooming is continuing to culture society, despite it’s obvious negative perception. On the third Friday of August annually, men are now given the opportunity to buy and use grooming products and to proactively manage their appearance. Salons, hairdressers and beauty parlours often cater especially to men on this day with offers, education and special consideration. Stigma aside, in today’s society it’s simply not acceptable to be scruffy, smelly and unkempt.
Industry experts and beauty salon owners are identifying the male market as key for potential growth, however there is still a feeling professional beauty treatments are not for men and think the public are not going to react positively to this change. “In many areas of the world such as Hungary and France, a man visiting a beauty salon is a totally normal monthly experience… our biggest spending client is a man and we are seeing increasing growth in the market despite the social scrutiny, men’s waxing treatment sales have increased by 60 per cent since 2010,” says beauty salon owner, Maurice Baudet.
“But the public don’t like change,” he adds. “Something originally consumed by women is now spreading to both genders and it just shows that society is developing and evolving, of course it’s going to come with backlash. The perception that men care enough to sit in a chair and have someone shape and pamper their toe nails takes that rough and tough manly image and shrinks it to a wimpy, delicate man.”
The author of What is the Matter with Boys?, Peter West, says, “So many things have changed in the last 40 years, I’m tired of the judgement that comes down on well kept men.. usually by women. Too much fuss is being made about this whole issue, it’s simple… no one likes smelly people, so you wear deodorant, what’s the difference in trimming your eye brows etc.
“The standards are changing every single day and I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few years time you have male salons popping up all over the place. Something as simple as going to the gym was unheard of when I was younger, and now it’s a social norm, who knows what the social norm will be when the future comes.” – Zachary Pittas
Top photo from Chris Pirillo’s Flickr photostream.