Monday May 7, 2012
Putting up a good front
But Then Again by MARY SCHNEIDER
Women are not the only ones seeking extra help in the beauty department. Men have hopped on the ‘keep young and beautiful’ bandwagon too. Is perfection the road to happiness?
I RECENTLY saw an ad for enhanced underpants that gave me the shivers. And no, they weren’t shivers of excitement. And in case you’re wondering, I didn’t spot them in some sleazy magazine or on an X-rated site.
Seemingly, there are a number of men out there who feel insecure about the size of their assets and are in need of a little boost to give the impression that they are more well-endowed than they actually are. Apparently, the enhanced underpants come with a “shelf” that allows for a 38% visual enhancement in size.
“Whoa!” I can hear some of you shouting about now. “That’s way too much information.”
I agree. But I don’t know why any man would draw attention to himself in such a way. I mean to say, no one’s going to notice the size of a man’s nether regions unless he’s wandering around in just his underwear. And surely, if he’s cavorting around in nothing more than a spandex shelf, the person he’s with either knows what he hasn’t got, or is just about to find out.
What’s with all the male insecurities these days, anyway?
When I was a young girl, false advertising was largely the domain of the female of the species. Male subterfuge usually didn’t extend beyond anything more than a comb-over or a toupee. Even then, such camouflage techniques were so crude that most people could spot them a mile off.
For example, I knew a middle-aged man living on my street who bought a mail-order toupee (an accessory that he had acquired shortly after he divorced his first wife) that didn’t even match his natural hair colour. I’m not sure what he used to secure it to his head, but one blustery day a strong wind caught a few loose strands of his rug, as we called it, and before he knew what was happening, it was rolling down the street, like a small piece of tumbleweed.
Such was his desperation to conceal his baldness from the neighbours that he ran after the fleeing hairpiece with one hand covering his naked scalp.
Later, he met and married another woman while wearing the same toupee. I’m sure she guessed that it wasn’t his natural hair and that beneath his weave was a head that was as smooth and as shiny as a billiard ball. In short, there was no chance that she would wake up in the middle of the night screaming at the sight of a hairy apparition sliding down the back of her husband’s neck. He was, after all, only fooling himself.
Of course, it’s also true to say that beyond the use of make-up, hair dyes, wigs, girdles and rather unattractive cone-shaped bras, most women were relatively natural way back in the 50s and early 60s. A man could date a woman and have a pretty good idea of what lay beneath her make-up and her clothing. After all, a girdle might hide a bit of a stomach, and a few strategically placed tissues might give the appearance of fuller breasts, but there’s only so much that these enhancers can do.
I don’t think either sex felt unduly duped by the outward appearance of the other.
Since then, though, cosmetic surgery has become more popular, more accessible and more affordable. Men have also jumped on the “keep young and beautiful” bandwagon, to the extent that cosmetic surgery is no longer the exclusive domain of women.
Although we are gradually becoming accustomed to hearing about men going under the knife, or embracing botox and facial fillers, or wearing physique-enhancing garments, there is still a certain stigma attached to men pandering to their vanity in such a way. It’s almost as if their lack of confidence points to a lack of masculinity.
Whatever way you look at it, a woman with breast implants or a padded bra is still socially more acceptable than a man with a spandex shelf, or a sock stuffed down the front of his underpants – Tom Jones is purported to have used sock enhancers before going on stage, and I think about that every time I see him on TV.
However, it doesn’t matter what you get done, one day you might have to sit down with your partner, hopefully before you enter into an intimate relationship with him or her, and come clean.
I can just imagine such a conversation.
“Darling, before we get married, there’s something I have to tell you. You see these breasts? They’re not my own. You see my eyes? They’re normally not green. You see these lips? They’re pumped full of fat extracted from my butt.
“Don’t worry, darling,” responds the groom. “we all have our ‘little’ secrets. Wait till you see me without my socks on.”