Stepford wives and husbands

An advert on the radio today offered men the opportunity to avoid having to go to female salons -a men’s beauty parlour was offering a full range of services including “traditional waxing”. My knowledge of tradition is obviously lacking because I didn’t know about it. To my outdated ideas, “traditional” barbers offered men shaves with hot towels and a cuththroat razor, rather than waxing. I didn’t know men were queuing up in women’s salons to get waxed and go on sunbeds and get manicures.

It’s almost tragic to me that men are going down the self-hating route – the starving themselves, plucking out hairs, smothering themselves in chemicals in case they might sweat and all the rest. OK, there’s an element of justice, here. If women have to do it, then it seems only fair that so should men.

But, of course, women don’t have to do it. Huge numbers of women have somehow learned to hate their bodies. Don’t misinterpret this. As an infinitely vain person, I am all for beautifying myself. I don’t think vanity is the problem – but I would, wouldn’t I? On the contrary, I think it’s the lack of natural vanity that causes damage to people.

As a society, we are wasting so much mental effort trying to conform to some socially accepted standard. What’s the reward? If we succeed, people envy or flatter us, but hate us fro succeeding. If we fail, people despise us for not matching up to the standard. It’s a real lose-lose situation. Who benefits then?

The cosmetics industry is enormous. The yearly value of its factory output is 35 billion Euros, in the EU alone. This isn’t even counting the numbers of hairdressers and tanning parlours and cosmetic surgeons and nail technicians. And don’t get me started on the diet industry.

You probably won’t find a greengrocers or wool shop or butchers on your local high street, any more, but there will almost certainly be a good few hair and beauty salons and tattoo parlours within walking distance.

There is certainly a huge vested interest in everybody – male or female -thinking they are too fat, hairy or whatever.

And what is the effect, apart from generating profit and keeping huge numbers of people in body servicing work? Do people look any better? No, people look more and more indistinguishable. Pretty well, everybody has the same hairstyle, the same clothes, the same shape. When people are rich enough, everyone is even cosmetically &/or dentally altered to look pretty much the same. The population of the developed world looks more and more like a set of clones, modelled on the Stepford wives, but extended to husbands as well.

When the Stepford wives film was made, the audience’s sympathy was assumed to be with the indepndent-thinking women who were fighting to remain fully human and not to fit into a soul-destroying social ideal of what it was to be a woman. If the film was made today, it would have the rhetoric of women’s independence – the Stepford wives would probably have non-housewife jobs – but I bet audiences would be quite uncomfortable with the idea of women who didn’t want to be idle and servile clotheshorses, groomed within an inch of their lives.

Of course, the non-Stepford wives even looked so much better than the Stepford women who looked like they spent half their lives under a hair dryer, but that’s probably partly to do with hindsight. It’s a law of life that any “beauty” fashion looks ludicrous in ten or twenty years. Yet another reason for rejecting this stuff, from a vain point of view.

Here is some general advice to to men from the benefit of female experience:
Don’t go to far into the dark side of trying to fit into some ideal. Confidence, self-respect and interests in things that are more interesting than how your nails are done are always attractive. People with no interests beyond their weight and hairstyle are really not interesting.