bikini emergency croppedA couple of months ago, a dear friend stood during the testimony meeting and stated clearly, vibrantly into the microphone “I am so grateful for my husband’s manscaping.” Nah, I though, she said LANDscaping, right? I glanced over to another friend, who was looking straight back at me, eyebrows raised, with the same question. Did she say MAN- or LAND-? Turns out, she DID say manscaping; and clarified that she was glad her husband didn’t manscape. She stood, smiled and shared her gratitude that her husband was “humble enough to stick to clean grooming styles”, and “not get into the whole vanity male beauty regime thing”.

Her testimony made me consider the changes I’d seen in male fashion styles and grooming, and what level of personal grooming and styling I appreciated in personages of the male variety. I grew up in an age, area and culture where a bloke smelt either of Brut 33, sweat, beer, the barbecued sausages and onions he was cooking, or an adaptive mix thereof. The extent of attention to hair by a man was minimal, with the most extreme makeover being the shaving off of the winter-grown beard in early spring. Facial hair was the only body hair interfered with. Ever. (Unless it was a result of a manly accident involving a chainsaw, a V8 engine, beer or barbecue. ) My grandfather – and his mates – never grew a beard or moustache, preferring to stay clean-shaven, though they always applied some sort of hair crème or pomade each morning, leaving the comb’s teeth marks clearly visible for the entire day. I’ve seen pictures of my (much younger) Dad with wavy hair brushing his shoulders, though can’t remember it in real life, or even imagine it on his current buzz cut “It’s to save time!” scalp.

About five years ago I flew from country Queensland to the state’s capital of Brisbane with my Mum, a trip of about 1000kms/620 mi and several light-years beyond Mum’s comfortable reality. I’d joked that she might see her first “Metrosexual” while in “the big city”, to which she scoffed disbelief. Sitting in Starbucks, though, watching her study a perfect specimen (tiny waist, pointy-toed leather shoes, hair messily gelled just so, lightly tinted moisturiser, trendy tie and shirt, the artful trace of eyeliner) check out his reflection in his phone, I couldn’t help but lean over and say “I told you they existed.” She nodded – goldfishing the air – and was speechless long after he had sauntered out of the shop.

I’ve worked with guys who: wax everything south of their nostrils; only ever use soap to wash their hair (once a month); think wearing socks constitutes high, almost black-tie fashion; and blokes whose teeth are living mosaics of their last seventeen meals. I’ve known guys who care more for their toenails than their cars, guys who sniffed their own armpits during a date (proudly inviting their shocked companion to “Cop a whiff of that pong!”), men who shower daily (more if required), and some who take over an hour every morning for their grooming routine. All this, not even broaching the “the clothes maketh the man” argument when it comes to a well presented guy.

Last week at work, I jumped off my forklift to sign for a delivery. The truck-driver was clean-shaven, with short-cut hair, his ironed shirt tucked into his pants. As he smiled and handed over the paperwork, his cologne drifted closer and softly ambushed my attention. The man was quite similar to most of the other truckers I see daily (clothes in high visibility colours, steel capped boots, pen or two in the chest pocket, grease ingrained and calloused hands), but it was quietly obvious that he had taken time and interest in his personal appearance. It wasn’t ostentatious, but it definitely stood out. He was quietly, cleanly, neatly different simply because of the attention he paid in his grooming.

The difference with grooming is always in the details, and the distances between points Argh! to Ohh..! We as women are used to having appearance and grooming being examined, be it by ourselves, media, culture, men and particularly other women, with men seeming to have avoided the same pressures, standards and expectations. So the swing to manscaping becoming a verb, noun and accepted practice is fascinating to me, albeit with some ill-concealed hilarity. I don’t understand the manscaping enthusiasms, but a man who takes quiet care in his appearance? I can testify to my appreciation of that!

What changes in male dress and grooming standards have you seen? Do you like guys taking care with their appearance? Do you wish guys would dress and present better or more relaxed? What grooming standards would you teach to boys?


  1. Sharon

    July 23, 2013

    Testimony meeting???

  2. annegb

    July 23, 2013

    My uncle always said of my father “he was the cleanest man I ever knew.” I never rebutted, but always thought “he was an alcoholic who beat his wife and abandoned his children to poverty.” Maybe that was my uncle’s way of focusing on the positive, bless his heart.

    But my dad, for all his faults, had been taught to be clean. Always clean shaven and groomed. It’s something, I guess.

    I appreciate that Bill is a clean man, especially when I see some husbands grooming. He always smells good :). But sometimes I’m wistful for David, my first husband, who wore faded levis and t-shirts most of the time and didn’t fuss over his clothes. Bill, now, gives me detailed instructions on how to iron his white shirts.

    Maybe that woman who bore her testimony knew somebody like me, whose husband is a pain in the neck when it comes to grooming. He spends more time getting ready for church than I do.

  3. Jessie

    July 23, 2013

    Good hygiene goes a long way for me–I don’t mind a more relaxed style of dress or a bit of scruff as long as the guy still smells good and has clean clothes and teeth. I’m fairly low-maintenance myself and one worry I would have with a man who was super fastidious would be that he would expect me to be that way too. Not going to happen–the thought of waxing sounds horrifying to me!

    With all my kids, both boys and girls, I want to teach them to take care of themselves and have good hygiene and the ability to dress appropriately for the right social situations. Taking time on your appearance before something like a date, church, or a job interview shows that you care. But, I would hate for men to start having their appearance and grooming habits judged as harshly as those of women are–I think the real solution should be for our culture to be more accepting of a wide variety of body types and personal styles for both genders.

  4. Shantell

    July 23, 2013

    My husband is a jeans and long sleeved dress shirt kind of guy, after work it’s cargo shorts and t-shirts. Facial hair is not his friend, so he doesn’t keep it around often. It takes him longer to get ready in the morning than it takes me, but I attribute that to me growing up with five sisters and learning to like fast showers or cold showers.
    My son lived in athletic shorts all through his first two years of middle school (even though he’s not really an athlete), then, on the last day of school, his English teacher planned a “The Outsiders” picnic, and gave the kids an option to come as a “soc” or a “greaser”. He chose “soc” which meant shirt sleeve shirt over plain white tee, and cargo shorts. He loves that look and has worn it most of the summer.
    I sent the teacher a thank you note.

  5. Heather B from SC

    July 23, 2013

    IN TESTIMONY MEETING.. rofl….Oh, still gasping a bit for air….oh, kel. That’s way better than my testimony meeting. I guess it’s good to be thankful for something about your spouse….

    My father is a cleaned up, business dress, suit and tie daily, haircut twice monthly, iron every morning ind of guy. Thankfully for my ironing disability, my husband is…less so. Like, I convinced him recently that just because a shirt says “wrinkle free” on the tag doesn’t mean it’s ACTUALLY free of wrinkles if it’s sat in a pile of clothes for a week. HOWEVER.. I’m certainly thankful that he chooses to wear deodorant and brush his teeth, and I’m not partial to facial hair… not for any reason other than, uh, it’s itchy. To ME. And I’m picky about that. Don’t come near me unless you are clean and deodorized and your teeth and brushed and you’re not scratchy faced. If I was a woman in ancient Rome or England, I would never have procreated. I would have become a hermit instead. Men, unclean, are sweet, and kind, and stuff, but they are gross and they smell awful. I like them better when they are trying to be attractive to me. I try to remember the same principles in reverse, and not wear pajamas all day, and not not brush my hair or something….but I’m not sure I stretch that concept all the way to makeup. I’m wearing earrings though, so…that’s fancy for me.

  6. Kellie aka Selwyn

    July 24, 2013

    I have to start by saying my friend’s testimony was wonderful. It was heartfelt, honest, and praised an aspect/quality – humbleness, personal humility – that is valuable. Her testimony also included her gratitude for her hubby’s support, faith and fathering, as well as her faith in and love for the Saviour. I just got distracted (and, obviously, inspired) a couple of words in, but when I tuned back I was touched by her testimony.

    Annegb – thank you for your example of three different men and their grooming. Good luck with the ‘detailed instructions’!

    Jessie – I share the “low vs high maintenance” worry! Plus, the teaching of correct dress for different situations for my kids is a goal, though it can be so hard to work out ‘correct’, or our interpretation thereof. Amen to accepting different body shapes and styles.

    Shantell – I love the ‘soc’ vignette, especially the note to the teacher.

    Heather B – ah, the joys of geekdom. Interesting how there’s often great differences between spouses as to what constitutes “okay” to wear!

  7. Marnie

    July 24, 2013

    I think, especially in the last 2 centuries, men have always been able to care for their appearance, perhaps with less product availability than today, but that tendency has always been there, in western metropolitan/suburban culture anyway.

    The biggest, most noticeable change – in my observation – has been the social acceptability of male body hair. I’m not on board with the whole hairless thing that seems to be common among males of a certain physical… “prowess”, I suppose. Advertising and the media have given the world the image of the chiselled pecs and abs, completely devoid of anything but skin and a light glistening of sweat for definition. I hear young women say, regularly, that they like their men to be hairless and I’m like, “Not for me thanks. I like to know I’m holding a man, not a 12 year old boy”. But that’s just me. Everyone’s different and thank goodness. But those of us who appreciate the more… virile (?) appearance of a well-toned, hairy chest are dwindling in number. I’m not loving the hair that now grows on my husband’s ears (that he asks me to remove for him), but that which grows where it is supposed to.

    My husband grooms himself well. Neat hair, usually clean shaven (although I like him best with sideys), and gets around in a range of clothes from tailored suits to torn shorts and tee-shirts. All clean, of course. Not a fan of grimy or B.O. soaked clothing.

    If I had sons (which I don’t, I only have daughters) I would teach them to care for their appearance but not to be anal. To be able to choose appropriately for the situation or occasion, but then to wear what they love – what is “them” – and how to launder said items.

  8. Carla

    July 24, 2013

    I’m seeing more facial hair and different types of facial hair. And demands from our bishop to be clean shaven to pass/bless the sacrament.

  9. Magpie

    July 25, 2013

    Demands from a bishop to be clean shaven? Can they do that?

    I am not a lover of facial hair, but my future son in law has changed my mind. He has a nicely trimmed beard and mustache, which my daughter loves. He feels like it makes him look thinner and hides his acne. I wish he would shave for the wedding, but have decided I love him more than I need him to shave.

  10. M2theh

    July 25, 2013

    I’m just glad my husband showers daily, uses deodorant and brushes his teeth, all of his own will. One of his brothers doesn’t. Ew.

  11. jennifer reuben

    July 25, 2013

    #9 At the age of most Aaronic priesthood youth passing the sacrament the request to remove facial hair is more of a request to clean up as peach fuzz is not a very church dress standards look. forever, to demand a shave before allowing a qualified worthy priesthood holder to participate in his assigned priesthood duties I feel is about as helpful in teaching correct gospel principles as demanding that everyone wear the same color of Sunday shirt. Another stumbling block for our youth.

  12. Marnie

    July 25, 2013

    I would be really surprised if the bishop in question is actually “demanding” it though. He might be urging or asking. Of course, to teenage ears that may come across as being a demand, just like my teens say I “force” them to do the dishes when I simply ask them to.

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