In modern America, men have grown to become more in tune with their appearance than in the past, some even more than many women. During the past decades, the influence of fashion, media, and society has influenced the definition of being handsome, which has dramatically changed. Males are now grooming themselves in the same way as women. For example, men go to the nail salon for pedicures, manicures, and eyebrow waxing.
There are several factors concerning the matter of how men came to be more conscious about their looks, such as society, the media, and the consequences that are expected to arise from this social awareness within the men of America. Society and culture are a responsible factor for the new changes in a man’s appearance.
Culture plays a major part in the determination of gender roles in our society. Socialization in all cultures is directly linked to the final product of a human being. Society dictates, at a very young age, how boys and girls are supposed to act, feel, and respond to certain situations.
The media uses the images of men in a variety of positions, and settings to appeal to women. By far, the most common picture of men, used in advertising, is of that of the young, white, able-bodied, modern male. This image and society have an influence on the psyche of men.
Nowadays, men try to keep up with the constant change of fashion trends by looking at their favorite successful rapper, actor, fashion designer, etc. Guys do this so that they can more easily impress attractive women who expect them to be like the men portrayed in the media.
Men have also resorted to plastic surgery to change their appearance in ways they feel will make them more self-confident. For example, a guy named Dan Barden, with low self-esteem, from the story, My New Nose, decides to get a nose job because he believed that his nose looked “thuggish” (181). He had developed this opinion about his nose because someone from a bar that he went to had told him that he looked like he got into a fight. He had started to accept his nose after a while before he got the surgery. His new nose had somewhat pressured him to want to get into shape, so he decided to start swimming.
The media is believed, by many, to be highly responsible for the outcome of the new changes within the appearance of the male form. Media stereotypes are inevitable, especially in advertising, entertainment, and news industries, which need as wide an audience as possible to quickly understand information.
The media should be held responsible because they use good looking men, with clean-shaven, handsome faces, and sixpack abs in commercials. This is how they sell new products and services to the average guy.
Men in the media are commonly seen posing with their shirts off or only in their underwear. For example, the new H&M commercial that premiered during the Superbowl game featured, David Beckham posing in nothing but a pair of underwear, to promote his new line of men’s underwear. The media influences how society views themselves.
The media leads people to believe that only a man with a sixpack and clean-shaven face is worthy enough to be on TV, instead of judging them solely on their talents and work ethic.
There are famous men who are not as good-looking or inshape as most celebrities. However, they do not get as many entertainment offers or even recognition for their talent. For example, an actor named Jonah Hill, got his big break in the hit movie Superbad, recently lost 40 pounds, and has now been offered more acting roles, interviews, photo shoots, etc.
A successful entertainer or media personality has to be considered desirable and is seen living a perfect lifestyle with the beautiful girlfriend, nice car, and wealth. This makes the average media consumer believe that they will have these things too if they are attractive enough.
If ordinary men viewed media advertisements that contained pictures of varied models, toned men, those who are more the norm of society, as well as images toward the other extreme, and with a variety of ages, the male esteem could be raised and the media influence would be changed. Guys should not be so concerned about their appearance just because they have less physical features that they believe draws the attention of women.
Being handsome has almost become the new pretty. For example, guys who overly groom themselves may start to look pretty in similarity to a woman, coined the term pretty boy. It is possible that many conflicts can arise if men become as, or even more, concerned about their looks than women. For example, it could cause both sexes in the relationship to compete with each other. It may become a challenge of who looks better than the other. This may cause a constant competitive beauty battle, in the relationship, and it could eventually end on a destructive note.
All throughout life, one’s sense of appearance, as a male, has constantly changed based on the influence of the media and society. As a young child, I grew up in a low-income home with an older sister. I did not have a lot of clothes to wear. My mom was the one who originally helped me put together my sense of style by picking out my clothes for me until I turned 12.
Since then, I began picking out my own clothes, to keep up with my peers. During my teen years, it was important for me to look good, and fit in with my peers so that they would not judge me. My mom helped me by making sure I never went to school with wornout shoes or clothes. It took me awhile to develop a good sense of style because I did not have any male role models in my life. Once I started to pay more attention to people in the media, I was able to develop my sense of style that made me accept my appearance. I would not have been able to do this without worrying about what others thought about me.
American men need to become aware of the modern society and media trends, or else they will face serious interpersonal consequences. I believe that men should never allow anyone to project their appearance. A sense of style is something that should be developed simply on their own. People who don’t follow the fashion
People who do not follow the fashion influences are often seen as unpopular or weird. This is just because they do not shop for what the average media consumer purchases. It is crucial to remember that a person’s inner-self is more important than outer appearances, for one, beauty starts from within. Society and the media will continue to change your perceptions on gender appearance, only if enabled to do so. Men should no longer allow the media and society be our trend setters. At the end of the day, the way one presents himself is a unique and real reflection of their character.
By Andrew Marshall
Inline Image Courtesy of Evan Balbier’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Featured Image Courtesy of Zarrion Walker’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License