A set of advertisements have started making the rounds of TV. L’Oreal, the provider and sustainer of beauty have now come up with a line of products for men. Anti-wrinkle, anti-dark eyes, anti-ageing, anti-social etc. Picture this ad
A 30-something guy is running on the treadmill. An attractive 30-something American blonde passes by. Guy gives female the look. Female looks away disapprovingly. Narrator: You think you are still in the game. She thinks your game is bingo. Ouch. Guy applies L’Oreal’s cream and voila, the next time he sees the female, the female turns around and gives him the approving smile. Aur yeh laga sixer!!
This got me thinking about how times are changing for us men. I mean, aren’t 30-something men supposed to grow pot-bellies, sit in front of the TV all day, leave the top two buttons of the shirt open and belch approvingly. Apparently not. The new generation of men (let’s put me in the middle of it and I am almost 27)is suave, smart, health-conscious and hold your breath, presentable. This ad represents the next level we have to reach. Is this the arrival of the metrosexual man? Is this the revenge of the female sex? The constant pressure to meet the bar that the opposite sex has set? The objectification of men? The centuries of scrutiny turned on its head? What else could it be? The character Elaine Bennis, from "Seinfeld," once said the male body was unattractive because it was strictly meant for utilitarian purposes, almost like a Jeep. True? Perhaps. I can only smell conspiracy here, and I hope to escape its clutches.
Unfortunately, I find myself already trapped in the middle. Narcissus has come to visit me later than usual. While all my growing years I did not notice my non-existent biceps and my coat-hanger body frame, I found myself in the middle of men my age facing what I’d called the mid-life crisis in terms of looks. 25/26 year olds worrying about their paunches affecting their matrimonial prospects. No dirth of girth here. Receding hairlines was another issue. While at Texas A&M, I watched my friends struggle with these issues with mild amusement. I actually felt comforted to have a lush mop of hair and an absolutely flat tummy and scoffed at these notions. I don’t remember actually worrying about how I looked or having spent more than a couple of milliseconds in front of a mirror. Then came the sedentary job and the Indian notion of prosperity. Couple this with hair flying away never to come back and I knew that Narcissus was here to stay. Imagine going to a barber and asking him not to cut the hair too much. How painful is that? I took to the gym for a bit to see if I could solve my 30/32 problem (copyrighted term: it means that you are too fat to wear a pant size 30 but a 32 will hang loosely on you). Then I realized. No sacrifice will make my hair come back. I can’t starve to suck my belly in. I cannot commit the sacrilege of skipping desserts at meal time or not eating fries when the craving comes. Isn’t the purpose of life altered beyond recognition? Let this be heard by one and all. Looks don’t matter, food does.
Am I ready to move from the category of presentable men to the pretentious ones? Am I ready to sink to the depths of ugliness that the average male goes to once he realizes that good looks are out of the range? I am ready to do neither. The middle road works best for me. The Man in the middle, the aam aadmi, the average Joe, the progressive Neanderthal. Won’t you agree that the ‘hunk’y dory guy is worth it too?