In the beauty industry, there are some very quietly whispered affairs usually known as beauty secrets. When it concerns men, then it almost always starts like an underground movement.
One of those movements happens to be male grooming. But not just any ordinary grooming. It’s manscaping. The term is described in the Urban Dictionary as “to groom a man-shaving, waxing, cleaning up the superfluous fur.” Or as “a term used to define male grooming below the belt. A male can use either an electric razor or a regular razor. A Mach 3 is preferable with the ladies…so men must educate themselves on proper manscaping and maintenance techniques”
In the midst of some hilarious definitions also erupts “a fine art form exclusive to men; the continued upkeep of exceptional hygiene and strategic hair removal as they pertain to the male body”
As women, we have many a variation of our own when it comes to hair removal. It has become normal to ask for the landing strip. With men, however, manscaping may be growing more and more popular, but its penetration into the Kenyan market is akin to a State secret.
But it now appears fate has an ironic sense of humor because the men are having their turn at their version of bikini waxing. Why, one may wonder, has ridding a man of his bodily hairs become trendy? Well, there is the simple truth that men are just as vain as women are.
But manscaping has not been embraced by the typical male. Reports in women’s publications, websites and blogs indicate that David Beckham and Sean “Puffy” Combs are legendary for manscaping. Of course by now t has been clearly established that they are also metrosexuals. Their influence, earning power and sheer star power also makes them unmistakable alpha males.
Male grooming is also a trend on runways, magazines and on male celebrities, particularly those who are brand ambassadors.
An even more discernible trend is that men’s underwear is becoming smaller, more fitted and rests lower on the pelvic bone. And because the sight of hair around the privates is perceived to sexualize the picture much more, the result has been to trim the errant hair. You see it in advertising. Men’s hair is visually disappearing, at least in the public.
When Beckham was the face - and body- of Armani underwear for men, and now his recently launched underwear line, he was the world’s most photographed male. He steadily reset the standard for male grooming and what masculine beauty means. At least when the men are topless. In defense of manscaping, muscle tone is actually enhanced on a “naked” form.
Manscaping is not exactly the kind of conversation Kenyan men are having in public. They are, however, having it. How do I know, you ask? Email inquiries. It is a trend with growing local traction.
The professional options are very limited to the point where they do not necessarily exist. Salons and spas are generally very female places. Nothing about them is likely to entice a man to walk in. not with the fruity, flowery aromas and the heavy female presence.
It is not a service you can casually ask for at the barber’s either. And just like bikini waxing for women, manscaping is a matter of preference with discretion, where should he go? An exclusive spa is your best bet. Exclusive-read expensive-means they normally have treatments specifically geared towards men or sessions for couples. They are already familiar with your need for discretion. Call ahead and make arrangements.
You could also retrieve an article by Christopher Hitchens in a 2007 Vanity Fair edition where he wrote about his experience manscaping. It is quite illuminating on what you’re getting yourself into.
One reason manscaping has not picked up that much here is that we are a conservative country. Another is men perceive waxing to be torture and regard it with a lot of suspicion.
Brought to the fore
It is curious that manscaping is regarded as a metrosexual activity yet it has been brought to the fore by men charged with teresterone such as athletes and body builders. Their bodies are instruments and they have learnt to sharpen it.
I am aware though that people have personal relationships with their bodies and that male grooming is not every man’s preserve. But once you choose the manscaping option, rather than arm yourself with various razors and lock yourself in the bathroom, go to the professional. Here, you will also learn how to sustain the manscaper’s lifestyle should you choose to undertake it.
The kind of man most likely drawn to this trend would be in his late 20’s through to his 30’s possibly with a cap on 40, an age where a man will is likely to be set in his ways.
Further insight into the manscaping trend can be found in the vast versatile categories that the market is providing when it comes to men’s shaving products. The market is making it easier to get rid of hairs from head to toe.
Research, though not in Kenya, has proven that men who manscape do so because the women in their lives asked them too.
It has a snowball effect and is slowly catching on. Of course it could also be a passing fad that will run its course soon enough, allowing the world to step back 40 years to re-embrace the hairy look. One can never really tell until a tipping point, such as a skyscraper-sized billboard of a half-naked hairy footballer pops up
Article appeared in the Sunday Nation April 8, 2012, pictures added.
by Carol Odero