While talking with one of my students today the topic of “male grooming” came up. This student is not one that anyone I know would consider “soft.” He’s around 20 years old. He has several tattoos. He works out regularly. He wears sports apparel most days. Typical guy stuff. We talked about the Super Bowl, his job, volunteer work, using sports to help break down racial barriers with the junior high students he mentors, the struggles of trying to do it all. Then the issue of eyebrow shaping came up. I don’t recall how, but there it was.
We went from the comfortable and familiar language of pick-up basketball games and working out to talking about whether it’s acceptable for a guy to care about his appearance. If so, to what degree? What behaviors are allowed? Where is the line that, if crossed, will result in losing your “man card?” If you use Nivea For Men Exfoliating Scrub , are you still a man?
Now what if you use your girlfriend’s melon-scented exfoliating scrub? Same smooth skin, different aroma. Man card: Yes or No? My student and I decided that, especially if you’re doing other things that support your manly public persona, it’s okay to do a little eyebrow shaping here and there.
Consider Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans. This guy is a super-stud on the basketball court. What gets mentioned in virtually every Davis highlight? His epic unibrow! (This guy has a few great pics). I’m guessing that growing up his goal was not to be known forever as “The Brow” or for his “Browtastic” dunks, blocks, etc. I wonder if he has considered waxing? Is it better to stay true to your original, given physical features? I think any guy who says this and regularly spends more than a couple hours a week in the gym is being just a bit hypocritical here. Working out to get bigger, leaner, or whatever muscles is certainly enhancing your appearance in the eyes of many. Similarly, plucking your eyebrow(s?) may be working toward the same goal of trying to attain some socio-cultural ideal body image. It used to be that men with large tufts of chest hair erupting from their Hawaiian shirts were considered manly, and the Magnum, P.I. handlebar mustache has all but disappeared in recent years. Nowadays the typical movie star is a hairless wonder of a 20-something year-old man that has had laser hair removal or perhaps in a bizarre, desperate attempt to get endorsements, used the No-No.
So where is the line? Should a guy bulk up his biceps without shame, but hide the fact that he removes a few of the connecting strands between his brows? As Jessica Rabbit might have said, “What if I’m just drawn that way?” For those blessed with an “ideal” modern male body, face, etc., congratulations. For the rest of us, maybe just ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. Are you trying to impress the wrong people? Maybe you just feel better if you believe you look “your best” considering your specific cultural influences. Whatever the case, let’s not take away a guy’s man card too quickly. Consider the whole picture.