Pakistan’s Metro Man is here to stay

Published: February 8, 2011
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Men in Pakistan are embracing their desire to look good and are visiting parlours much more frequently than before. PHOTOS: AFP

Men in Pakistan are embracing their desire to look good and are visiting parlours much more frequently than before. PHOTOS: AFP

Men in Pakistan are embracing their desire to look good and are visiting parlours much more frequently than before. PHOTOS: AFP Men in Pakistan are embracing their desire to look good and are visiting parlours much more frequently than before. PHOTOS: AFP Men in Pakistan are embracing their desire to look good and are visiting parlours much more frequently than before. PHOTOS: AFP Men in Pakistan are embracing their desire to look good and are visiting parlours much more frequently than before. PHOTOS: AFP A beautician applies a facial makeup on a male customer at a beauty salon in Karachi on January 22, 2011. PHOTO: AFP A beautician takes care of a male customer, after having applied make-up on his face at a beauty salon in Karachi on January 22, 2011. PHOTO: AFP A beautician apply facial beauty treatments on male customers at a beauty salon in Karachi on January 22, 2011. PHOTO: AFP

LAHORE: The modern day Pakistani seems to have adopted ‘the look good feel good’ mantra to its fullest potential. But looking good is no longer just the prerogative of women; lately many men have begun to focus on themselves and the gradual and steady increase in male salons is a very strong indication of this burgeoning trend.

While previously a small ram shackle joint was where most men would go for their regular shave and an occasional hair dye and oil massage, the shoddy outlets have been transformed into gleaming salons offering facials, manicures and even waxing! As Redah Misbah of Depilex confides, “The most popular treatments at Depilex Men are the whitening and peeling facials and believe it or not, waxing of the chest and the back.” The very establishment of a male Depilex, an institution with over three decades of beauty experience in the country, is a potent statement in itself.

If mainstream beauty brands such as Garnier, Nivea and even Body Shop have dedicated lines for men, then surely the demand exists for these mega corporations to be manufacturing and then marketing them so heavily. In India, Bollywood actors such as John Abraham and Shah Rukh Khan endorse Garnier and Fair and Handsome respectively, while in Pakistan, Luscious cosmetics creator, Meherbano Sethi revealed that her real clientele for her whitening foundation is not the retailers or women’s salons, “It’s these small little barber shops at the nook of every community who buy boxes and boxes of my foundation,” she said.

Taking the beauty angle to a whole new level are the cosmetic surgery centres promising a life transforming experience via hair transplants and nip tucks. Veteran actors like Shakeel, television stars like Faisal Qureishi and even cricketers and politicians endorse pamphlets and billboards promoting hair transplants for a younger and more confident man. Ahmed Choudhry, a 40 year old cosmetic surgeon in Lahore, has witnessed a triple growth in profits in the last five years from this blossoming trend. Choudhry’s client, Azhar Amin, 43, paid $1,350 for each of two five-hour procedures. “I wanted it for cosmetic reasons and to improve my confidence. Baldness is a weakness so after the hair transplant, I will be more cosmetically acceptable and confident,” said Amin.

With many young men taking up jobs in Pakistan’s booming media and tertiary industries where public relations is an important angle of the job, looking good becomes inextricably linked to feeling good and performing well. “My self esteem is greater when I am looking good. You need to dress the part for your job,” says Saad Irfan, a banker.

Despite Pakistan’s dire economy and widespread poverty, rich urbanites have more disposable cash than ever and are now spending it on their image, says Hassan Kilde Bajwa of Synergy, the advertising agency. Bajwa says the rise of the metro sexual, or “metropolitan heterosexual” man, is a result of a liberalised banking sector and a massive explosion of media in a country that 15 years ago had just two television channels and no FM radio. “Now people have a much greater disposable income because of all the banking reforms we’ve had over the past 10 to 15 years where all of a sudden we have people being able to take loans, which was not a possibility in Pakistan before.”

“And the other major influence is the fact that we now have a flourishing media industry,” says the 30-year-old associate creative director. “Your consumption increases when you’re bombarded with all these new ideas.” Bajwa says advertising campaigns have rushed in to play to the desire for an improved image, pushing Western beauty trends among men. “Now you see more and more products, personal hygiene products, being targeted at men which is something quite new. Metro sexuality is definitely on the up in Pakistan,” he concluded.

With additional information from AFP.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (32)

  • Eeman
    Feb 8, 2011 - 11:47AM

    Nice…at least we have something to show. Recommend

  • barlas
    Feb 8, 2011 - 12:41PM

    It is the time we think where our society is going.
    we as a islamic nation think what are the true teaching of islam.Recommend

  • Usman Khalid
    Feb 8, 2011 - 12:55PM

    “something” should be good to be presentedRecommend

  • CB Guy
    Feb 8, 2011 - 1:00PM

    @Eeman: We have had always something to show that is good but media , both local and foreign wouldn’t show, its decreases depression and makes people feel good.

    Interesting term there “disposable cash” =Credit Cards= More Interest = Richer Banks Recommend

  • Adi
    Feb 8, 2011 - 1:32PM

    @Eman…if you think this is the first something positive in pakistan to show, then i am sure you have never ever seen this country. with so many negatives we still have countless positives but unfortunately the media only projects what they shouldntRecommend

  • Feb 8, 2011 - 1:45PM

    Was it all narrated by ‘Bajwa’ ?

    That’s what she said. Recommend

  • Adnan S. Khan
    Feb 8, 2011 - 2:05PM

    I think “metropolitan heterosexuals” aren’t really heterosexuals… They somehow have a whiff of homosexuality among themRecommend

  • SUB
    Feb 8, 2011 - 2:37PM

    @barlas: “Islamic Nation” … Sorry BrotherRecommend

  • Ali
    Feb 8, 2011 - 6:12PM

    Adnan,

    Do you think that the famous footballers and film stars in the west are all homo too because they look after themselves?

    Looking after yourself has nothing to do with your sexuality choice but everything to do with making yourswelf feel and look good and in this country where there is so much negativity, a little bit of me time and pampering is a good thing!Recommend

  • Schazad
    Feb 8, 2011 - 6:15PM

    @barlas:
    “OMG, we are an islamic nation. We are muslims and these people are not. These are infidels and these salons must have been implanted by indians or jews to destroy our culture and religion.” Get ur head out of sand.Recommend

  • Schazad
    Feb 8, 2011 - 6:16PM

    @Adi:

    Read my comment above, this is for you too.Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Feb 8, 2011 - 7:48PM

    @barlas
    yup, i agree with you – we should stick to suicide attacks and teach the same to our children. That’s the only way we can save the life hereafter.Recommend

  • unknown
    Feb 8, 2011 - 8:05PM

    caring about one’s body either by male or female is their right.but the emerging trend is becoming a social taboo and damaging social institutions as well. Recommend

  • sheru
    Feb 9, 2011 - 3:06AM

    So basically you and DAWN seem to have more or less the same blog? Recommend

  • Amna
    Feb 9, 2011 - 8:25AM

    Taking care of yourself and looking good and well kept is different from being feminine. I think metrosexual men are seriously feminine. Recommend

  • Ehtisham+Rizvi
    Feb 9, 2011 - 10:35AM

    The guy in the picture is having LIPSTICK applied to him, you guys find nothing wrong with that?? call me a fundamentalist but that is just unacceptable and NOT STRAIGHT, if these guys want to look and feel good they should join a gym and leave the make up to the ladies, I wouldnt want a guy wearing lipstick anywhere near me or my family, and how is this at all related to terrorism? people on tribune try to justify everything by comparing it to suicide blasts and terrorists these days.Recommend

  • Feb 9, 2011 - 10:49AM

    @Adi:

    What are the positives? This is not positive….and superficial things like male salons are not a positive. They are only on the surface…they have nothing to do with the things that really matter in a country. This is only vanity, and is nothing new in men here. I see it day in and day out….Glamour photos men have of themselves on their desktops at work etc….where bad skin etc has been photoshopped out. Grown men staring at themselves all day primping like a teenage girl.

    I am not being flipant….I really do not see the positives in Pakistan. I see only a constant back biting mentality at all levels and a pervasive culture of lies. From the market vendor to the president.

    Does no one pick up the Quran anymore?Recommend

  • fatima
    Feb 9, 2011 - 11:20AM

    What is the point of this article? Exactly same thing was published:

    http://www.dawn.com/2011/02/08/metrosexuals-on-the-rise-in-pakistan.htmlRecommend

  • ALI
    Feb 9, 2011 - 11:51AM

    @ Fatima: Isnt it Plagiarism :O Recommend

  • Athenian
    Feb 9, 2011 - 1:08PM

    Although I have grown up in a society which is very different from the pakistani one both in terms of culture and in terms of religion, I believe I understand how many Pakistanis feel towards metrosexual men. However, I would like to raise two points: first, why can’t a man be a good muslim and at the same time take care of the way he looks? Is having facial hair and a slovenly appearence an indication of living in an islamic society or being a good follower of islam? Second, ‘Ehtisam+Rizvi’ wrote that he would not like any man wearing lipstick anywhere around his family. I don’t like men wearing lipstick either but if anyone chooses to do so, this is not a reason for keeping him away from me and my family at any cost. A man’s character, behaviour, good heart and way of thinking count more than the way he chooses to look or his sexual preferences. Why shouldn’t all people live together in harmony, devout muslims, followers of other religions, metrosexuals, straight, homosexuals etc. Tolerance and respect are ingredients of a peaceful and happy society. Recommend

  • moise
    Feb 9, 2011 - 1:38PM

    @fatima: These stories come from AP, Associated Press.Recommend

  • moise
    Feb 9, 2011 - 1:38PM

    Disgusting.Recommend

  • Feb 10, 2011 - 2:12AM

    Men in States take care of themselves too meaning the most metrosexual will apply lotion. I have not heard of men applying lipstick. Such guys would be referred to as drag queens in US.Recommend

  • Feb 10, 2011 - 1:27PM

    “Qayamat” is near my friends..Recommend

  • Salman Hasan
    Feb 10, 2011 - 3:27PM

    @Ehtisham+Rizvi:
    Nobody is forcing you or your family members to wear lipstick. At the same time, you have no right to decide what is okay and what is not for other people.Recommend

  • Feb 10, 2011 - 9:47PM

    these are only the work of high class society. A middle class family guy would never think of doing fashion or look good.Recommend

  • sister
    Feb 11, 2011 - 2:00AM

    Shame:(Recommend

  • Aaliyah.
    Feb 11, 2011 - 9:37AM

    A well groomed man is definitely a sight for sore eyes, if a man goes to a salon to maintain his personal hygeine in forms of a pedicure, manicure, facials there is nothing wrong with that. I’d personally be disgusted with a man who has dirty hands, feet and his face being a platter of blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and God knows what not. They lead stressful lives too, they make that money themselves and they only get to decide how to spend it. I’d rather be with a man who is concious of what he looks like than one who does’nt. All those who drag homosexuality and Islam into this, you guys must be REALLY dirty!
    Islam has got not nothing to do with heading to the Salon.
    Express should have not used the photograph they did because it makes a metrosexual man look more of a homosexual. There is huge difference kindly dont merge them into being the same.

    Barlas: “saafai nisf eeman hai” If you’d have practised the right Islam you’d know.Recommend

  • Aaliyah.
    Feb 11, 2011 - 9:42AM

    Saira: I quote an example from the article ”

    Luscious cosmetics creator, Meherbano Sethi revealed that her real clientele for her whitening foundation is not the retailers or women’s salons, “It’s these small little barber shops at the nook of every community who buy boxes and boxes of my foundation,” she said.”

    The high class would never head to a barber shop at the nook of every community. A middle class man needs higher levels of confidence and high esteem in order to successfully climb the success ladder. High class is already full of themselves. If you’d open your eyes and look around the middle class boys work harder so that they may impress a boss, executive whoever.Recommend

  • SARA
    Feb 11, 2011 - 12:27PM

    being smart and stylish is another thing which is everyone’s right whether girl or boy but being a man, involving himself fully in such activities leads him to sensitivity even if he doesnt want..man should be rough and tough as he has been built. having femine touch isnt good from every angle.
    Every product related to men is appreciable but to some limit.Recommend

  • Caro Mio
    Feb 11, 2011 - 12:36PM

    Entirely agree with Athenian. Looking good (for which YOU and not others are the determinants) has absolutely nothing to do with either religion or class. Can’t the rest of you get on with your lives without having to pass judgment or equate EVERYTHING with religion or class or (usually) both. As for the “whiff of homosexuality” bit, a metrosexual is not a homosexual. The terms was devised specifically to refer to a heterosexual with just more than a passing interest in taking care of himself. Recommend

  • Umair Waheed Sheikh, Khayban e Hafiz,IBA Karachi
    Feb 16, 2011 - 6:29PM

    I fiance always puts her lipstick on me telling me my lips need a bit of color. Any ideas on that? And now she has asked me to get my chest waxed? What should I do?Recommend

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