The foreword of Mantalk, Elliot Jacob's new nonfiction book on the art of health and beauty for men, says:
"It is a common stereotype that men do not like asking for directions... men are tacticians."
Perhaps it was my "tactical," anti-directions side -- or just my cynical, skeptical self -- that made me wary of a book with chapters titled "New Skin, New Man" and lengthy paragraphs on pec implants.
But Mantalk quickly showed me that not only is the practice of man-beauty, so to speak, entirely valid, healthy, and interesting, it's also in surprisingly high demand.
Mantalk is the book men have been waiting for ever since Norelco came out with a men's razor whose ambiguous use is not shaving, but "body grooming." This book cuts through the ambiguity and makes "male grooming" understandable. Metrosexuality has indeed spread to the masses, and this do-it-yourself (with a good plastic surgeon) guide to man-grooming is the straight eye for the every guy. So, men - let's talk.
The male grooming market has been cited as a .5 billion industry, according to Mantalk. While masculine vanity was once considered unmanly, it is now becoming something of a status symbol. Plus, it's emotionally and physically healthy for a man to look and feel good. This is especially true for middle-aged men and baby-boomers, who have found that aging, while sometimes deeply gratifying, isnít always pretty.
That's not to say that the modern man wants to be "pretty.Ē But to look and feel good is a very fulfilling thing for a man and his special somebody. With the nerve-wracking threat of heart disease and numerous forms of cancer -- and the sometimes equally nerve-wracking threat of just being fat or unattractive -- it is not only fun and fulfilling for a man to take care of himself, but important. All of this helps to explain why the market for men's beauty products -- from the classics like razors and colognes to exotic jaw implants -- has increased dramatically over the past several years.
Plastic surgeon Elliot Jacobs, M.D., F.A.C.S., a Mensa member in Manhattan who is also inexplicably licensed to practice in The Bahamas, New Jersey, New York, and California, explains that as men age, their skin loses its firmness. As early as thirty-five, the skin begins a slow descent downwards as it loses its battle with gravity, a process greatly sped up by sun exposure and alcohol. You might forget what you did the night before, but your skin wonít.
By age 55, a man's skin can go from having had "acne and some loss of elasticity" (age 25-45) to "wrinkles, uneven color and pigmentation, sagging, a sallow yellow color, and dark circles under the eyes." This is a natural process, but science and Dr. Jacobs are waging war on it all.
Avoiding wrinkles entirely is probably impossible, but consistent moisturizing can greatly help the health and appearance of skin. After that, Dr. Jacobs skips right to Botox, which he assures, is safe and non-surgical. Your last resort for younger-looking skin is the ever-efficient facelift, which Dr. Jacobs later explains has become substantially simpler.
The term "neck lift" might sound daunting and just plain weird at first, but Dr. Jacobs attests that this subtle surgery is an effective way to look younger and better. As gravity pulls skin down toward the Earth's surface and fat into weird parts of the body, many men are bothered by a "turkey gobbler," the hanging fat that appears in the lower face and neck. A neck lift, sometimes with an additional chin implant, can enhance your jaw line and make your features appear finer. Other facial fun you can have is eyelid rejuvenation to look less tired or bloated, or a nose job to create a "strong, balanced facial profile that gives the impression of personal confidence." Personal confidence - or at least looking personally confident - has become immeasurably important in both the business world and dating, making this book a useful guide.
Filled with anecdotes about men who have successfully rejuvenated themselves, Mantalk is easy for anyone to read. Really, it is not just the "metrosexual" trend that is encouraging men to take care of themselves. From simple, healthy lifestyle choices to luxurious, effective plastic surgeries, men should be taking an active interest in their physical looks and well-being for their own sake and health.
At eighteen, Iím not a boy but not yet a man, so I will be taking to heart several of Dr. Jacobs' health tips. Well, when it comes to pec implants, I'll stick with push-ups for now. But the man on the cover of Mantalk looks healthy and sharp, with defined features, cool hair, and a glowing tan.
If that's the future for me -- and the future of older men -- it's looking pretty bright.