Give your pants (and your ego) a little boost with this D.I.Y. crotch bulge. pic.twitter.com/OjuLzdaMvS
— Super Deluxe (@superdeluxe) December 29, 2017
Shame the beard isn’t as convincing as the stuffed crotch.
Remember Just For Men? Or ‘JFM’ as it likes to call itself now. Well, it never went away – and it’s all over social media. Though perhaps it’s just my social media – because those pesky algorithms know how old and grey I am now.
Launched in the late 1980s by Combe Incorporated of White Plains NY (who also market Grecian 2000), Just For Men was a pioneering mainstream male vanity brand. If incredibly cheesy. They became a byword for camp in the sense of failed seriousness. And that quasi religious American style of a life transformed by a slightly shonky product.
Middle-aged men popped up on our TV screens concerned about their grey hair – but also concerned about dyeing it. About being inauthentic and feminine and fussy. What a dilemma!
Just For Men to the rescue! As the name suggested – nay, insisted – it wasn’t at all feminine. And it ‘naturally’ ‘shaded’ away grey hair. So you wouldn’t look Too Gay. Even better, your wife – and let’s be sure to emphasise here that every single man who used JFM had at least one – gave you permission!
‘I REALLY didn’t want my husband to colour his grey hair!’ exclaims the over-excited wife in the ad below from 1993. (Why? Because people might guess he’s an actor?)
Husband: ‘But then I discovered this, the hair colouring called Just for Men!’
And lo, with no fuss or faffing – in just five minutes! – the grey is ‘blended away’ in the privacy of your own family home for a ‘totally natural look’.
Cue hysterically happy heterosexual couple.
As a final heterosexual reassurance, we’re told ‘Eight out of ten women prefer the Just For Men look to the grey look.’
Things have changed in the Just For Men universe in the intervening decades, just as cultural attitudes to male beauty and ageing have changed. They’re now also targeting men in their late 20s and 30s concerned about the appearance of a few grey hairs. That I can’t even see.
Though of course they are still emphasising that JFM isn’t ‘hair dye’ – and isn’t ‘fussy’. Hence manly names like ‘Autostop’, and applicators designed to look like garage tools.
A big ‘growth’ area recently has been beards, of course. Though again, euphemisms are still in fashion: ‘fuller’ is manvertising for ‘dyed’.
But the wife has gone. She, along with the endearing naffness of the original ads, has been replaced by a spotless hipster kitchen – with really cool chemistry lab style coffee filters! ‘The Husband’ is as attractive and cool and singular as his fittings. If Patrick Bateman had a beard – and you just know that he would today, and that it would be the best beard ever – I guess it would be getting a bit grey now.
I also initially read PREP with a lowercase ‘r’. I guess Just For Men are no longer so anxious about appearing like they’re just for men, after all.
On the subject of beard fetishism, the quest for a ‘fuller’ beard seems to be something of a widely-shared obsession. You can even buy supplements like the one below ‘Man Up’ from ‘Beard Daddy’ that promise to make your pride and joy thicker. Buying it may or may not make your beard ‘fuller’ but it will definitely make you look like a bit of a prick: ‘Fear the daddy beard’.
Oh, I do. I really do.
A collection of hirsutely hilarious photos from this year’s National Beard and Mustache Championships.
Full marks to the extensively tonsured furry chaps who didn’t take themselves too seriously to take part in this shoot.
But in truth, as a raging pogonophobe, I have to admit that all beards look like this to me.
Except of course the one belonging to my good pogonophile chum Lee Kynaston, who recently wrote this sagacious piece in the Telegraph about why some men should never grow beards.
Tip: Norbert Mirani
Facial hair fascinates me. I’m not actually much of a fan of it personally, but symbolically I’m besotted. Particularly the way that it is no longer a secondary sexual characteristic, a sign of manhood, or a love of Real Ale, but an adorable accessory that men today adopt and discard according to whim, following in the capricious, scented footsteps of Beckham et al.
Though of course, if you’re gay and living in a metropolitan area whim isn’t allowed. You have to sport a beard at all times. Otherwise you won’t get any dates. Gays will just hiss at you instead.
So I read with interest this YouGov survey published this week which provides some confirming data on the fashionability of face fuzz and its accessorization by males today: ‘stubble’ is reportedly the most popular form of facial hair today – especially with 18-24 year olds (51% say they have facial hair and 80% of those describe it as ‘stubble’). Stubble of course being the most easily adopted and discarded form of facial hair.
But the survey – called ‘Let’s Face It’ — is much less interesting for what it reports than for what it doesn’t. What it’s not facing. At all. The assumptions behind it and the way that compulsory heterosexuality is used to deprive all men of a voice, even about their own bodies.
Here’s the first paragraph of the YouGov press release/summary:
Are you male and looking for a date? It might be a good idea to shave beforehand, our survey suggests, as we discover that two thirds of British women prefer the appearance of a man without a beard, compared to less than one in ten who like the more hirsute type.
The first assumption of course is that the date a male is looking for is necessarily with a woman. (And as I say, if you’re gay you have to have a Captain Haddock to get a second look.) The second, and closely-related assumption, is that men’s affinity for facial hair is naturally to be measured entirely in terms of what women want:
- 66% of British women prefer the appearance of a man without a beard
- While 6% prefer the appearance of a man with a beard, and 27% have no preference either way
The survey asks men whether they have facial — and chest — hair, and what kind. (And a third assumption here is that women don’t have facial hair….) But only asks women the questions: ‘Do you prefer the appearance of a man with or without a beard?’, and ‘Do you prefer the appearance of a man with or without chest hair?’
- Fortunately for the two thirds of women who aren’t keen, only 37% of men currently have facial hair
Men are objects here, and not in a good way. They are not allowed subjective feelings about facial or chest hair, their own or anyone else’s. They merely have it or they don’t. What they might want is of no interest. Women are the only ones allowed to want here. (Even when they are lesbians — the survey polled 1417 women, and no mention is made of screening respondents on the basis of their sexuality, so statistically a significant number of them will have been Sapphic. Just as some of the 1340 men not asked this question would have been gay or bisexual.)
It would have been great to also find out whether males think facial hair enhances men’s appearance or not. Especially in a survey on male facial and chest hair. But they weren’t asked. YouGov apparently isn’t interested here in what men think about other men’s appearance. Though they were asked (but not mentioned in the press release) about their reasons for having facial hair — ‘habit’ was the most popular response at 32%. Amongst 18-39 year-olds ‘To make myself more attractive’ came in at 19%.
Either way I’d guess the popularity of stubble with young men today probably has rather less to do with what women (say they) want than the male celebs young men admire – and want. Even if it’s only about giving them permission to have stubble.
I don’t mention this to score gayist points and invoke ‘homophobia’. Or to diss the importance of women to most men. I mention it to illustrate how (hetero)sexist assumptions are sometimes used to shut men up. And maintain the reassuring pretense that even in a world where young men have become brazenly narcissistic and ‘passive’ – desiring to be desired – and where women are now allowed and indeed encouraged to have active preferences about men’s physical appearance, that it’s still all about good old heterosexuality.
When it’s as plain as the designer stubble on your face that it really aint.
Tip: Big Daddy Keltik
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