Long gone are the days of plaid-clad lumberjacks and truck drivers. The extinct breed of manly men has since been replaced by squeaky-clean pretty boys and finely groomed so-called “metrosexuals.”
During the brief two decades of my life, I have watched the disappearance of an era that once idolized the brawny, mustached detective, Magnum P.I.; an unstoppable, futuristic cyborg called The Terminator; and struggling boxer, Rocky Balboa, who made it to the big-time on nothing but guts and sheer determination. Now, a softer and more style-conscious new image of the modern man has risen from shows like “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and “Extreme Makeover.”
It makes me wonder: Where have all the manly men gone?
It’s all too often that I spot a male student walking around campus proudly sporting a pale pink shirt, a color once reserved for baby girls’ blankets and nurseries. I know that everyone has the right to express him/herself in whatever way they chose, but baby pink as the cutting-edge in guys’ fashion just strikes me as slightly ridiculous.
It’s a sign of these gender-bending times when there are enough men walking into salons to get their chests, backs and eyebrows waxed for it to acquire its own name: manscaping. Wasn’t the chest-waxing scene in “40-Year-Old Virgin,” enough to send men running and screaming away from anything resembling a wax strip?
I’m all for equality among the sexes, but if enough men are willing to brave the sting of hot wax for the sake of a baby-smooth back and artfully-shaped brows, then what’s left for women to do to feel feminine? With so many guys walking around in snug, boot-cut, low-rise jeans and designer sunglasses, I can’t help but feel a little sloppy and underdressed.
I don’t blame average men for a loss in masculinity. One look at pop culture was enough to make me realize that many male celebrities today are walking the line between masculine and feminine.
Take pop icon Justin Timberlake for example. His hit song, “SexyBack,” has been on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart for 15 weeks, currently resting at No. 2 as of Oct. 24, and he hits high notes most 8-year-old girls can’t even come close to.
I will admit that Timberlake’s falsetto is quite catchy, but nothing about his effeminate look and sound is “bringing sexy back.” His well-coiffed look is more put-together than most female fashionistas, and the diamond stud earrings he sports are big enough to make even Oprah jealous.
What is most surprising about the current trend of androgynous fashion is that there is no evidence that men have changed their looks to conform to a standard of what women want in men.
In a 2005 survey of 1,128 women, 61 percent said they would rather see a man’s hands rough from working hard than well-manicured, according to an article in The Washington Times. In the same survey, only 16 percent of women chose “fashionable” as a desirable quality in a man.
Some women are probably going to tell me they don’t need a macho guy because they’re strong and intelligent on their own and I agree because, believe me, I’m as big a feminist as anyone. All I ask for is a middle ground between baby pink and brawny plaid.
I have no desire to bring back the old-fashioned ideal of the burly, strong man rushing to rescuing the helpless damsel in distress, because women these days don’t need much rescuing, if any at all. One thing that would be nice though, is if we could maintain some sort of balance and women could at least have a shot of finding a man who requires less primp time than they do.
So for all you guys out there looking for a date, don’t let Hollywood’s trend-setting standards fool you. You don’t need to wax your chest and fret about picking just the right shoes for your outfit, when a shower, shave and comb can do wonders without all the fuss.
Most importantly, be yourself, because no matter what you’re wearing the most attractive thing about a man, is the man himself.
Amy Dierdorff is a journalism senior and a Mustang Daily columnist.