Boys will be Girls

Now call me old fashioned, but since when has it become the norm for men to look like women? I am, of course, talking about the recent surge of heterosexual men who find it acceptable to wear women’s clothes, use their products and carry their accessories. Simply because you replace the first letter of a word with ‘m’ it does not make it ‘mantastic’. Most recently MUggs have been causing me particular pain. Whilst this bizarre fashion is just about acceptable on petite, womanly feet, when worn on size 12 clodhoppers they have the ability to make men’s feet resemble enormous, furry hooves. It is irrelevant that they were originally worn by male Australian sheep shearers in the 70s; I don’t see any long-haired sheep trotting down Derby Road…

I’m sure we’re all familiar with ‘The One With Joey’s Bag’, in which Mr Tribbiani emphatically protests that, “it’s a man’s bag!” amid accusations of femininity. Joey seemed to start the ball rolling, paving the way for Russell Brand’s arrival on our screens around five years ago, followed by a host of skinny-jean clad anti-men in his wake. Philip Taylor, the Apprentice’s resident metrosexual, revealed earlier in the series that he starts the day with a full face of make-up. Upon visiting MAC’s Nottingham outlet the shop assistant explained that their skin products are designed for both men and women due to the recent rise in men interested in cosmetics.
Shockingly, around 400,000 men in Britain now own a pair of hair straighteners. I was particularly distressed when an acquaintance recently asked if I had a shower cap as he couldn’t be bothered to blow dry and straighten his hair again before Ocean. I hoped that if I just closed my eyes I could pretend those words had been uttered by a person of the female persuasion. And further to this another male friend recently explained how he’s partial to the odd manicure. He explained that he first had one when he was starting a new job at Harrods and his nail beds were, quote, “in a dreadful state”, and since then there has been no turning back (I refuse to even make the MANicure pun).

ManTan is the latest attempt to rid men of their pasty winter blues, so prepare for a new variety of oompa loompa men with streaky tan lines and orange-tinted eyebrows. Not forgetting ‘Guyliner’, the ingenious label from cosmetics company Taxi. The product promises men it will be ‘versatile’ offering them a subtle daytime look or a sexy, grungy look for the evenings. But it doesn’t matter what marketing strategy they use there is no hiding from the fact that it’s still girl’s make-up! Gone are the days of athletic builds in favour of lean pins squeezed into spray-painted skinny jeans. What is the point in having a built rugby player who spends all his time on the sunbeds, restyling his hair and examining reflective surfaces? I can’t help wondering what will come next… Will the boys adopt Beckham’s sarong style, circa 1997? Or will they be donning footless ‘meggings’? Or will La Senza invent the ‘Manbra’? Please God no…

Recently, in an unexpected twist, one of my lecturers explained how the gender role reversals of the last twenty years have come about. Apparently, in the wake of Maggie Thatcher women have become butch, powerful bitches, whilst men have become blubbering pansies (I may have paraphrased a little). He claimed that since Gazza cried in the 1990 World Cup semi-final men have simply been released from the shackles of masculinity and it is now acceptable for them to cry. No longer must men endure the lump in their throat whilst watching Lassie, these days it’s all about letting it out. And don’t get me wrong, I have no issues with guys in touch with their sensitive side; just so long as it doesn’t smudge your make-up.

Hattie Hamilton


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