Claiming to be traumatised after seeing a teacher slap another student at school, my son demanded a relaxing head massage and shampoo to unwind his tortured mind. So we ended up in a men’s salon, and as he took his massage, I sat flipping through a pile of well-thumbed women’s lifestyle magazines that seem to be essential reading for many men these days. Bored of the usual articles blatantly persuading readers to buy the products advertised in the issue, I looked around and noticed that men with glop on their faces far outnumbered those getting haircuts.
Blaming physical imperfections on genes is not acceptable to the new-age man. No longer satisfied with being in touch with their feminine sides, they are now busy transforming themselves into objects of desire. Instead of the tortuous route of healthy and some serious gymming, they opt for a wave of the scalpel to transform into Prince Charming within hours. That, perhaps, is also one of the reasons why witches and warlocks have gone out of business.
Dermatologists at upmarket clinics say one out of every three persons asking for skin whitening treatment is a man. An equal proportion of men are opting for correctional procedures: nose jobs and other nips and tucks to make them look sharper. If cosmetic surgery is any indicator, men in India are not only more worried about the way they look than their American counterparts, but are also willing to pay for it. Men in India account for 30 per cent of all cosmetic surgeries, as compared to 20 per cent in the US. On an average, women still outnumber men by two to one, but in the 40 and 50 years age group, men catch up for procedures such as face lifts, tummy tucks and liposuction.
For most people, though, the first encounter with cosmetic surgery is through more top-up procedures like skin polishing and laser resurfacing. After using laser resurfacing to remove embarrassing tattoos, it seems men are now opting for the procedure to smooth blotchy skin and scarring.
Interestingly, 88 per cent men as compared to 43 per cent women opt for surgery, according to a study. Nose jobs top the list of the favourites followed by liposuction, which, they hope, would give them Shah Rukh’s six-packs.
No one perhaps puts it better than Dr Nancy Etcoff, a psychologist at the Harvard Medical School in her book, Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty: “We will soon look at wrinkles the way we look at cracked or discoloured teeth: remnants of the past, just something to be fixed.” What’s great is that men are now losing sleep and money over the wrinkles and flab. And they are willing to fix them with plastic surgery and other beauty accessories. Till environmentalists start complaining about the biodegradability of all that embedded plastic floating around, it seems there is little to stop men from fighting for their right to objectify themselves. I, for one, am not complaining.