Pressure on men to look good? Don’t make me laugh

June 12, 2011

According to a story in the Guardian some experts are warning that the ‘growing need for males to make themselves beautiful is leading to the “increased objectification of men”’. Apparently this new cultural phenomenon has led to a spate of ‘celebrity makeovers’ including Wayne Rooney’s hair transplant and Simon Cowell’s Botox and the concern is that it’s putting pressure on men to stay young and well groomed.

Now I may be slightly biased as I’m raising a boy who thinks that mouthwash is a substitute for brushing his teeth and a lick and a promise is a substitute for washing his face, but I’m not convinced that most boys/men feel under pressure to look good because of the ‘increased objectification of men.’

Narcissus may have been a myth, but throughout history there have always been ‘dandies’ – men who like to look good, for no other reason than they are like little budgies, preening and looking at themselves in the mirror all day. They want others to think they look good because they enjoy adoration, but ultimately it doesn’t matter if they do because they’ve got enough self-love for everyone.

But I think those kind of men are still very much in the minority, and their self-obsession is self-fuelled. Because in the areas where men tend to dominate – the city, for example, or industry, or even sport – good looks are not as important as the ability to do the job. I don’t think anyone would suggest that Bill Gates or Lord Sugar or Rio Ferdinand got ahead because of their looks, for example.

And you only have to look at politics, which, let’s face it, is overrun with very unattractive men, to know that being good looking definitely isn’t a prerequisite for male success.

Matthew Fox and Patrick Dempsey may encourage men to take a bit of care over their appearance on their TV ads, but I’m not sure that translates into the kind of pressure women are bombarded with on a daily basis.

Because the sad truth is that women are still judged by their looks in all walks of life. In showbiz and (ironically) media, particularly, where we’ve seen female presenters retired or put out to grass because of their advancing years while men are allowed to keep going, regardless of how unattractive they are. It’s the reason why Ann Widdecombe was always criticised for her looks, more so even than her dreadful politics, and why Theresa May had a makeover while Michael Gove…er… hasn’t. We’re a long, long way from a society where women aren’t judged on their appearance, or indeed a world where women are not objectified.

Who knows the real reason why Wayne Rooney chose to have a hair transplant? Who cares? You only have to look at Jason Statham, Billy Zane and Bruce Willis to know that being bald isn’t a barrier to sex appeal. If you’ve got it, you’ve got it, and it doesn’t matter whether you’ve got hair on your head or not. Whether you think Rooney is attractive or not (NOT), I suspect his decision to have a makeover – and Simon Cowell’s – had more to do with their own vanity than any pressure from elsewhere.

*What do you think? Are men under the same kind of pressure as women to look good? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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  • Mumrablog June 12, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    I totally agree women are judged on their appearance more than men but it can work against us too, often have felt the need to prove myself more academically and intellectually due to my glossy hair and big brown eyes *cough*

    • Liz Jarvis June 12, 2011 at 12:41 pm

      I totally identify with that, being blessed with blonde hair and blue eyes *cough*

  • Lucy June 12, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Men don’t seem to suffer the evils of the green eyed monster like us ladies. Competition for them will usually be based on strength, fitness and success. I’ve been known to carry a Chesterfield sofa up a flight of stairs, my friends were not in the least bit envious! I’m unsure what triggers a man to focus on their appearance. Perhaps it’s about trying to project self-confidence when they don’t have much deep down. I certainly don’t think its to impress women or other men. As you said, being beautiful is not a requirement for men to become successful.

    • Liz Jarvis June 12, 2011 at 12:41 pm

      definitely not x