Category Archives: Male Beauty

A Close Shave

The sudden realisation you are single is a severe blow to the psyche. Obviously, the worst part of any break up is the emotional stress. A break up roughly tosses you naked from the warm, insulate cocoon of a relationship onto the cold, concrete street of the Singleton. Casually dismissing the emotional turmoil of a break up, there are other superficial considerations that a Singleton is presented with; you have to give a shit about your appearance again.

Admittedly, it is grossly unfair to impute couples have given up on their appearance; there are many beautiful, well dressed couples, but I know that while in a relationship, I regularly opted to sit with a tube of Pringles in my pyjamas rather than join my friends for a night on the town. Perhaps, singledom encourages one to make more effort in their visual appeal for obvious reasons. Since my break-up, I’ve changed my hair, lost weight and had my teeth done. While I might have considered all this while in a relationship, I can’t say would have done anything about it.

When I turned single last year, the consensus of my friends was I should get back on the horse, firmly believing the best way to get over was by getting under. Well, in hindsight, they were all wrong. Wrong! The best way to get over a breakup is by locking yourself in a dark room, meditating for hours on end and unravelling each and every emotional issue on the list you spent weeks compiling. Only then, will you be exorcised of the demons from your previous relationship. However, back then I did not know this. I obsessed with finding a new horse.

“It has been a while since I was on the horse,” I told Brian one evening, walking through the after-work hubbub of O’Connell Street. “I misplaced my saddle.”

“Giddy up,” chortled Brian.

“I am a bit out of practice and there’s another matter I must address.”

“What is that?”

“Let’s just say, I am sporting a full bush.”

“Ah I see. Get yourself to Boots and buy a Philishave.”

A Philishave is a body grooming device found in the beauty-maintenance kits of most gay men and some straight men too, I presume. It is a shaver which grooms, trims, sculpts and tidies body hair. This process is referred to as “manscaping”. There are a number of advantages to manscaping. The main benefit of maintaining a tight shave in the pubic region is that it makes a penis appear larger. This factoid will encourage a flurry of men to visit Boots and purchase said body groomer. Another benefit to muscular men is that less hair causes muscles to seem larger and more defined. I’ve never had a discussion on manscaping with any of my gay, male friends, though I am interested in the frequency they do it and the areas of their body they attend to.

As necessary as it is, I hate manscaping. I have no patience for it. The stupid Philishave comes with a number of clip-on devices that allow you apply the blade to varying degrees of tightness. I guess one is meant to gradually apply the tighter blades until happy with the result. I never do this. I generally just go for it, regularly resulting in a sparse result. I often undertake a manscape at the most inopportune moments – an hour before I am due to meet friends or just before I embark on a date. My most comical incident was when the battery died about ten minutes before I was due to meet a guy. Let’s say, had the date gone well, there would have been an interesting topic of conversation later that night.

I went on a date last Thursday and in true form, decided to manscape before leaving the apartment. I took up the buzzing blade in my hand and without hesitation, ran it across my stomach. I examined my work. I had just left a clear hairless line across my stomach.

I screamed aloud. “Why do I always do this? Agggghhhhhhh”

From experience, the worst part of such a mistake is the follow through. You have to shave off all remaining hair or risk looking odd. I am now completely bare-chested. I stood in the bathroom, looking in the mirror, chewing my lip.

“Whoops. Fuck it anyway.”

The date went well and yes, he saw my bare chest. He laughed when I explained myself.

I dismiss the embarrassment of such a mistake, but what does fill me with horror is the likelihood of ingrown hairs, which I suffered from when I waxed my chest years ago. I am moisturising and exfoliating like a man possessed by chaetophobic demons.

You couples have it easy.

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I Must Have #2

Another jacket!

I have spent the last year desperately searching for a ‘reasonably priced’ trench coat. The Burberry brand is synonymous with macs and trenches, but at a cost of €1,200, such a high-end purchase is sure to sting.  A compromise comes in the form of this jacket by London based brand, Jaeger.

I am justifying this purchase with the following –

  • It is my birthday this month; my gift to me
  • I have exams in May. I will save money by not socialising
  • This is an investment piece;  simply timeless!
  • I don’t have a trench. I’ve wanted one for the last year.

Do I need more reasons?

Get the Boot In!

The recent bout of inclement weather encouraged me to purchase boots on Monday. With warm, cosy feet did I realise the ease boots allowed me to walk over snow and ice, indicating an all too rare marriage of fashion and function.

The fashion collections of Autumn-Winter this year featured countless men strutting the catwalk in boots. The only way to wear boots this winter is to tuck your jeans into them, enhancing the prevalent military look that remains since last year. This look has been termed “tuck ‘n’ roll”.

Lanvin for H&M

Emer reckons I shouldn’t buy any more jackets. “You could sell jackets at this stage,” she repeatedly says. So I shall heed her words and not buy a jacket. Instead, I shall buy a coat. Let it never be said I don’t take advice.

Last month, I was all set to splurge on my lovely All Saints coat until I missed my flight from London to Dublin. The cost of a replacement flight and booking a suitcase could have bought two thirds of my coat. As a punishment for my insane stupidity – at confusing departure time from London with arrival time in Dublin – I decided not to buy the lovely coat. You can wait for it you fool, I angrily told myself.

In the mean time, I learned Lanvin collaborated with H&M on a range of clothing, which is due to arrive in store 23rd November. I browsed the range and was rather smitten with a trench-coat (as modelled below). This style is very much all the rage at the moment, but it is certain the trench-coat will be in and out of fashion for coming decades. A good investment if you ask me.


Winter Warmer

Year after year, when Winter sets in, I fail in tracking down a good, stylish coat. It seems style is compromised for warmth. The trend for layering still lives on among high street fashion, making it difficult to buy a warm coat that won’t make you look as if you’ve just returned from a Himalayan expedition.

My little fashionista friend, Eimear, told me to take a look at All Saints when I described the “warm, but funky Winter coat” I so badly want. I took a look and found the below.  If it fits, it’s mine.

Nip, Tuck, Straighten and Pluck

I hate my thighs and ass. When I put on weight I develop an ass that would give Beyoncé a run for her money. In my teens, I was tall and slender. Into my twenties, my subconscious prepared for a nuclear Winter by stockpiling lard in my thighs, hips and ass. I would kill for the silhouette of a male model as opposed to my shape, which resembles two or three models huddled together. Three or four years ago, I achieved a body I should have been proud of. I was lean – I had a flat stomach with good definition. My arms, shoulders and pecs filled a T-shirt nicely. My legs and thighs were solid. I obtained this physique by spending roughly ten hours a week in the gym, doing cardio, weight lifting and spinning. I calorie counted on a daily basis. My obsession reached its peak when I used an excel chart to graph my fat, protein and carbohydrate intake. I allowed myself treats now and again, compensating with an extra push during a workout. In my head it was all worthwhile; in my opinion I looked great. My friends disregarded my broad shoulders and bulging biceps, paying attention to my sunken eyes and ashen palor. Only when I regained weight did honest opinions emerge.

“I am putting on weight again,” I moaned to Joanne one day.

“You look great Stephen,” she comforted. “You were too thin!”

“Too thin? I looked great!”

“No, Stephen, you looked sick. You looked ill.” There was an unexpected firmness in her voice.

I was taken aback by Joanne’s comment. I was obsessive with weight loss yet I don’t feel I had an eating disorder. I question the reason for this distorted self-image. Advertising and media are often criticised for bombarding women with unrealistic portrayals of beauty, encouraging eating disorders. The same accusations can be made at male orientated media, perhaps to a lesser extent, since it traditionally did not focus so much on the male physique. Historically, actors such as Marlon Brando and Rock Hudson carried significant influence on the interpretation of male image in the 50s and 60s. Both actors – albeit through their portrayal in movies – appealed equally to men and women alike. Today’s portrayal of male and female beauty has more in common than ever. The portrayal of male beauty centres more on physical body – muscles and weight – than actual “manliness”. This is illustrated in men’s magazines that contain information on achieving the despairingly elusive washboard stomach. Countless men’s magazines boast secrets for the “killer abs”. In reality, a six-pack is achievable only by maintaining a relatively unhealthy body fat, rigorous approach to healthy eating and good genealogy. The facts are ignored by thousands of men who purchase these magazines on a regular basis.

I know many vain men. Gay men after all are perhaps the most narcissistic sub-category on Earth. However, increasing numbers of straight men are following suit in the amount of care paid towards their appearance. The modern portrayal of male beauty can be blamed for the advent of the metrosexual. David Beckham, undoubtedly the most famous metrosexual, was iconic for both his athletic ability and high ranking in the style stakes, during his hay day. His prowess on the football field reinforced his ability to be daring in his choice of attire. He popularised countless hair styles among teenagers around the world. Roll forward ten years and Beckham – and his modern equivalents – are role models for working-class teenagers. Cue the creation of the chav. The male chav, associated dress code and hairstyles, is a massive reinforcement to metrosexuality and an attack on the manly man of old.

As comfortable as I am discussing my own body-issues, I was surprised when one day Best-Friend and I openly discussed our personal hang ups with our appearance. Men – gay or straight – rarely do this. I recall mentioning how happy I am to have pursued orthodontic treatment. The conversation eventually turned to what we would change about our bodies, if we could.

“Once my braces come off, I’m getting laser whitening. Think Donny Osmond!”

Best-Friend admitted an insecurity, again prompting my turn.

“I am going to look into laser hair removal for my monobrow. I pluck so much I’m afraid a chunk of my face will one day come off.”

Following a discussion of cosmetic surgeries, it was revealed neither of us would consider anything more drastic than Botox. Walking through Stephen’s Green, I pointed to my crow’s feet and prominent frown lines on my forehead. I have no issue with age. I can’t wait to go grey. It just seems that for a certain amount of money I can pay to treat an insecurity. My once crooked teeth will be Hollywoodesque within two years. I can rid myself of a monobrow for €130. Should I develop a deep furrow, I can “fill” it, costing €300. For the first time in history cosmetic alteration is available to the public at large. Instead of dealing with insecurity we can simply spend to dispose of it. We do so because we can. Considering the proliferation of cosmetic treatments among the wider public, it’s no surprise increasing numbers of men invest in their appearance. At the height of the recession, Debenhams, London recently reported a doubling in the number of men availing of eyebrow – or “guybrow” – shaping. The Celtic Tiger was partly responsible for the expansion of the Grafton Barber franchise, a styling and grooming service offered in the guise of a traditional barber’s. Despite increasing sales of men’s hair straighteners in Europe, few men openly admit to owning one.  Society has progressed to allow man take pride in his appearance, only if he does so in a “manly” way. If he does it in a “pansy” way, he should keep it to himself.

Black Jeans

For the last few months I’ve admired many pairs of black jeans. I’m cautious. I’ve not worn black jeans since I was fourteen. Considering, it took me two or three years to overcome my issues with – and fit into – skinny jeans, it’s no surprise I am slow on the uptake. While browsing in BTs last weekend I stumbled across black Nudie slim-fit jeans. I tried them on. I and the shop assistant liked. They shall be my next wardrobe-investment.

Pick and Choos

I shall be queuing for the below outside H&M on Saturday morning with Catherine. Warm coffees will be essential. This suit retails at €200. I need it for my nephew’s christening in two week’s time. I also have (yet another) wedding to attend in January for which the suit is needed.

I have a few days to convince Boyfriend to get me an early Christmas present of the leather jacket also on offer as part of the collection. So far, he’s having none of it, but as I said, I still have a few days. I can be convincing when necessary; there are ways and means.

Choo

Going Grey

Over the weekend I found one.

On Saturday night I found a solitary grey hair. Of all the places to find one, it is probably the worst. I found – well Boyfriend actually did – a grey hair in my down-below-region.

At first the discovery did not bother me. I find dark, greying men very attractive. I often tell everyone, “I can’t wait to go grey”. As the weekend progressed, it irked me more and more. Yes, I like the idea of going grey, but I welcome grey hair with open arms; not greying pubes.

I had it all scheduled you see. My mother is dark and my dad is fair. Neither of them started greying before the age of thirty. I thought the same would happen to me, but nature does not seem to respect schedules. My grey day arrived four years ahead of schedule.

It is speculated that hair can turn grey overnight due to extreme stress. When I think about it, last week was quite stressful. I once read that Marie Antoinette’s hair went grey the night before her execution in 1793. Perhaps, we can agree to put it down to stress.

I revealed my discovery to my friends on Saturday night. It provided much revelry. My friend, whose business supplies hair salons in the UK, informed me there are places that provide services in bush dying.

Imagine being that concerned with youth that one would colour greying hairs. I would never do such a thing. I would rather dye.