‘Apna dulha hum say taiyaar karwaaen’ (let us groom your groom) — says a very noticeable banner, near a home-based male salon in Islamabad’s G-6 sector. From the very prestigious to average, a substantial number of salons catering to males have recently sprung up in the capital. These salons, which offer treatments ranging from manicures and pedicures to facials, have replaced the old ‘naayi ki dukaan’ (barber shop) in the local market.
Additionally, there is increasing importance being given to men being ‘fairer’, and often young men are seen to be hesitant about playing sports in the sun. For them, it’s a matter of ‘taking care of oneself’ and ‘looking good — in any condition!’
One wonders if this change in Pakistan has occurred because of a rise in the disposable income of some people coupled with an increasing number of advertisements promoting consumer goods. “Male consumers are placing emphasis on looking good. This includes everything from investing in personal trainers to buying skin care products,” said Michael Dehn, the organiser of Beautyworld Middle East in an interview with Gulf News.
With brand endorsements from suave Hollywood celebs like George Clooney to sporting athletes like cricketer Shane Warne, the male grooming market is set to become one of the fastest growing categories in beauty and personal care. According to Euromonitor International, a London-based market research firm, sales of men’s personal care products hit $913 million in 2010 in the Middle East. The Telegraph reported that Shane Warne “who once had a McDonalds’ burger named after him, now tweets about his favourite beauty products and reportedly wears make-up”. One wonders if this change in the cricketer’s appearance has been triggered by his new actor girlfriend Elizabeth Hurley.
The term ‘metrosexual’ was coined in 1994 by journalist Mark Simpson, describing the metrosexual man as a single young man with high disposable income, living or working in the city (because that is where all the best shops are), reports The Zimbabwe Standard. Cynthia Miller, a lecturer on popular culture at Boston’s Emerson College, told The Wall Street Journal that, “Talking about men’s appearance has become part of the popular consciousness.” Several words describing masculine grooming such as ‘guyliner’ (eyeliner for guys) and ‘mewellery’ (jewellery for men) have been coined to represent this trend.
Claude Hachache, assistant manager of Toni&Guy, UAE told Gulf News, “In today’s society, it’s perfectly acceptable for men to visit salons and take pride in their appearance — the metrosexual age is upon us!
After L’Oreal made Hugh Laurie — the rugged 52-year-old star of “House” — the new face of their skincare for men, trade magazine The Grocer remarked; “The slick, urban guy, who took care of his appearance, has made way for the more natural, rugged and beard-loving retrosexual — as epitomised by Hugh Laurie.” (With additional reporting by MARZYYA HAQ)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 15th, 2011.
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