Masculinity seems to be in a fragile state, with men going to extremes to protect their neck(beard)s from all that is pink, floral, and otherwise lady-like. So each week, we’ll dive into the ways men are guarding themselves from a feminized society, as we ask, “Are men OK?“
We’ve already established that anyone is allowed to do whatever they want with their body hair, but for many people, that means some level of regular grooming. And as much as men try to position themselves as the “practical” and “logical” sex—the “Why waste time with vanity?” gender—they are not immune to creating uni-tasking products for improving their physical appearance. And then marketing them with uber-masculine names to make it OK.
Many of these items are for the grooming of facial hair, which often requires the difficult task of forming hair into an even shape. There’s the GoateeSaver, which a man holds in his mouth and shaves around to get the perfect goatee. There’s the EdgeUp neckline shaving template. There’s the Beard Bro, a similar tool for evenly shaping beard neck lines and top lines. There’s also a product that comes with a comb shaped like brass knuckles, because even when men groom it’s gotta be tough.
In 2014, a study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology found that men preferred photos of women wearing less makeup. Other studies have corroborated those findings over the years, much to the chagrin of women who wear makeup because they like the way it looks, not because they care what men think.
The chorus from the men in these surveys seems to be they value the concept of “natural.” And yes, we’d all love it if we rolled out of bed with glowing skin, rosy cheeks and darkened eyelashes. But that’s not the case, and as these men’s grooming products show, men are aware of that. A beard-trimming tool is a good idea, but it is no different from a contouring set.
And y'all gon' lie to me and tell me Beards don't do the same thing as makeup????? pic.twitter.com/c8RCf9Fne3— big scorpio energy (@jsmnmr_) May 10, 2016
It could just be that men are convinced goatee-trimming isn’t on par with blush or eyeliner, nor is it considered actual primping. After all, plenty of men seem very confused as to just what “no makeup” looks like. But everything about our personal appearance is a choice—a decision we put time and effort into, or not. We choose to cut our hair or grow it out, to wear makeup or go bare-faced, or to have beards or be clean-shaven. Some of those choices are culturally easier to make, but none of them are inherently “natural.”
Using a goatee shaper is a little silly. So is using an eyelash curler. Just don’t call women the vain gender.