It seems that Saks Fifth Avenue has started carrying a product called the Equmen, a tight-fitting undershirt made especially for men. The undershirt apparently trims a few inches from the mid-section and “supports core muscles.” In this age of the overweight and over-stuffed, the beauty industry has found a new object: middle-aged men.
Not that men have been unnoticed by the industry in the past–no, through the years, men have been encouraged to use some of the very same products as women, to enhance their attractiveness. First it was the wrist watch. I’m not sure when men gave up their pocket watches for their Rolexes, but when they did, they were aping women’s fashion, of course.
The next thing was perfume–men started using scent in shaving products and then began just splashing on cologne. Cosmetics for men are not as widely used or as widely accepted as cologne, but more and more men are stopping by cosmetic counters in department stores, not to buy products for their wives and sweethearts, but for themselves. Plastic surgery, long the purview of wealthy women, has made amazing inroads onto the credit cards of middle-class women–and is increasingly popular among men.
And then, purses are coming into vogue for men. They are not called purses, of course–they are called “bags” or “satchels” or some other more gender-friendly term. Recently in Italy, the home of fine leather, I reached for a lovely “bag,” thinking that I might buy it for myself, until the clerk explained to me that it was for men. It was smaller than most women’s purses that are being shown now, most of which are just short of suitcases in size and weight, so it had an appeal for me. But I decided against it–I wouldn’t want to be caught with a “male bag.”
I was looking through a clothing catalog last week and noticed that it featured horse-hair bracelets for men. Men, if you’re going to wear a bracelet, let it be made of some . . . animal matter. This lets people know that although you want to pretty-up your hairy arm, you are identifying with our Native American tradition and are therefore seen as earthy and masculine and certainly no sissy.
Men, let me just say this about the Equmen undershirt: I wore girdles when I was 18 until I was 30, and I still have the broken veins in my legs to show for it. Such garments constrain the flesh, and flesh is not meant to be constrained. If you have too much flesh, or if it wobbles excessively, then you really must–and I know you don’t want to hear this–you really must EXERCISE.
Women have let advertisers tell us what we must do to be loved and wanted; and men, now they are trying to rope you in, as well. Isn’t it enough to try to sell you fast, gleaming cars and foaming glasses of beer? Do they have to enter your toilet, as they have done that of women?
Hear me now, men–just say no. Say no before it’s too late, and like your female counterparts, you too begin to believe that your value lies in your figure, your face, your . . . hair. Whoops, they’ve already got you there.