Here is Ally Fogg @allyfogg ‘s comment on Mark’s blog that criticises the research:
Thought you’d be interested in this! I don’t doubt that there’s a trend towards greater (and occasionally severe) body consciousness among men – and I agree with a lot of your observations here, but please don’t read anything meaningful into this so-called research.
The respondents were more than four times more likely to be members of a gym than the general population, and more than six times as likely to define as gay. The full report doesn’t seem to have been published yet, but according to the press release, the subjects completed an online quaire. I presume they were self-selected, and I’d hazard a guess they’d followed links from ‘Men’s Health’ type websites. Highly unlikely that they are typical of men as a whole.
This work was commissioned by a couple of charities seeking to make a point and get some cheap publicity. Classic churnalism. It worked, but that doesn’t make their findings worth anything.
Thanks for putting that Olivia Newton John song in my head though. That’s going to be earworming for bloody days.
I think you have mentioned elsewhere that this gym rat look is declining in fashionablity among gay men just as, and maybe because, it is gaining populartiy out among the straight broes. One term that use to be curent to describe this look was “WeHo” (= West Hollywood) and even back in that day it was a little dismissive and then finally derogatory.
When changes nothing about the validity of what you are saying. Beards and body hair and all untrimmed, and a comfortable little blue-collar paunch are exactly the same thing in a different from. Hemlines up, hemlines down, hemlines up…..
ha Jim I like the hemlines analogy – especially in relation to facial hair.
I thouoght of another analogy. In the same way that men dropped purses about the tiem women started to pick them up, gay men dropped manscaping and body sculpting as soon as straight started in with all that. There is the same dynamic working – if something turns into a “girl” thing, boys flee and if the straights start following some trend it’s suddenly not interesting anymore.
So that yields another analogy.With gays becoming trend-setters for straight guys, how long can homophobia retain any cultural force? It pretty much kills the gay=/= lame meme. This is the same trend arc as happened in the Jazz Age – everyone these days thinks blacks have always defined “cool” in the US, but this is far from true; it most definitely was not always so. Before the 1920s whites did not pay much attention to black music and popular music was all derived from Celtic/British or Eastern European folk sources. Jim Crow didn’t fall dead just as soon as rich white folks made it fashionable to go to black clubs, but that was the crack in the levee that led to a (thoroughly exploitive) appreciation of some aspects of balck culture and finally of black people as people. We are still waiting for widespread appreciation of fellow citizens as something other than entertainment, but that will come too.
great points Jim. well, when it comes to ‘Mark Simpson’s body talk’ he is so into shaved male bodies, and so against hair, that he doesnt always come across very reasonable about it.
I think the straights going in for manscaping made the gays actually worry about ‘feminine’ it is and wanted to be ‘real men’ compared to those girly metrosexuals. I have some articles on it I will dig them out.
Here you are jim a funny article saying ‘metrosexual is dead’ in favour of beards. I think it is by a gay man but can’t be sure!
Thanks. Beards really do come and go. I have been watching it since the hippy era. Something to remember about men’s styles (and probably women’s styles too) is something I never see addressed in fashion publications and never discusssed by commentatrors like Simpson – style is never ever unitary. Mullet haircuts were fashionable amoing fashionable people for about a year in the early seventies. But they have stayed popular among rural whites in the US and are only now dying out. The same goes for beards. The fashionbable beards are trimmed and sculpted to within a inch of their lives. There is even a amrket in trimmers to keep your length at that perfect ten-day stubble length. Meanwhile out at the truck-stops you see the same Russian peasant beards as in the Haight, they kind of hair that good old boys used to beat people up for.
very good points. I think Simpson acknowledges the tension between the ‘beard’ look and the hairless look but maybe doesn’t go into more nuance than that.
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