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Are men pushing the grooming joke too far?

Lady Speak
 Photo: Courtesy

A while back on her way to work aboard a mini-bus, Kate Amunga, a business lady in Nairobi, sat next to a man she found very strange.

“He looked extremely dapper in a dark suit. His cologne was so powerful that one would be forgiven for imagining he swum in it. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. I found him very strange because half way through the journey, in fact, on two occasions, he whipped out of his coat pocket a small shoe-brush which he used to shine his already shining shoes!”

That was not it, Kate says; the drama had just begun! The man shocked her when he pulled out a grooming kit and began to give a neat and tidy appearance to his face.

“Believe it or not, he began powdering his nose and applying lip balm, rubbing his lips against each other as he peered into a ka-small mirror attached to his grooming kit,” chuckles Kate. That Kate and other shocked commuters gave him “that weird look” didn't make him stop; he was unmoved, and went on to spruce himself up. What cheek!

And just before they disembarked from the bus, he was at it, again; he chucked his shoe-brush and hurriedly began shining his already shiny shoes, leaving some women, who had been observing him, in stitches!

Look, there is nothing wrong with a man who likes to look nice and neat; a man who wears clean underwear, socks, and keeps his hair and nails short. It’s pretty normal, and sometimes even attractive. But when a man becomes overly concerned with his looks and neatness, it all becomes a bit irritating to women!

Ladies, imagine  trying to compete with them, and gentlemen, you know very well women hate competition, especially on matters beauty. Differently put, they like 'monolising' attention!

It’s unfortunate that this trend has become very common among some Kenyan men. When you stroll into a salon, especially in Nairobi, it is very common to bump into a bunch of men being pedicured and manicured.

Women no longer gossip in peace because men are always hovering around salons. In homes, women no longer have a good time at the dressing table, because some men are mark-timing and hurrying them up to have their turn.

The rate at which men are grooming is making some women worried. Men now have regular appointments with beauticians for processes previously considered a preserve of women such as facials, plucking eyebrows, and the whole shebang.

And while at it, some are even louder (and have the audacity to shout down ladies) than women on matters such as fashion and beauty tips.

Some men have become so obsessed with how they look while others can’t step outside the house without their hair styled, and are constantly looking in a mirror to make sure that not a single strand is out of place.

These kinds of men have become common place. Even as you read this, it’s very likely one is busy washing or moisturizing his face in a washroom near you!

So who is this Frankenstein’s monster with flawless skin, supple lips and perfectly plucked eyebrows? Well, he is the metrosexual man. But wait a minute, who is a metrosexual man? He has been defined as an overly sensitive heterosexual male who is likely well-educated, and in in touch with his feminine side.

He may have a standing appointment for a weekly manicure and facial. He may wear jewellery, and his bathroom counter is filled with male grooming products, including moisturizers, and in extreme scenarios, perhaps makeup.

Becky Maina who works in the PR industry says a while back she dated a man who was obsessed with his looks. At first she put up with him, but at some point she began feeling awkward because she felt like she was dating a fellow woman.

“He would spend hours in the bathroom getting ready, I often had to wait up for him and would end up being late,” she says. “However, what I could not stand was the fact that he had a skin beauty ritual which he followed religiously every night before he slept. He would wash, clean and moisturize to keep his skin soft. That was the last straw that broke this camel’s back,” she says with a frown.

Becky is not alone, she is in great company. So many women have experienced the same. Take, for instance, Cate Ominde, a banker, she says her current boyfriend is a very proud metrosexual, and she is finding it very difficult to stand him.

The other day we went out for a live show and he put on put on a statement pendant, a low ridding t-shirt with floral prints and very tight trousers. I was very embarrassed to walk with him, and the fact that his lips were shinning did not make matters any better,” she says.

Also Amos Kamau, an accountant also loves to take care of himself. “I am very particular about my appearance. You have to be particularly in the world of today where looks are very important. I do not go for manicures, pedicures or facials, but I like to look sharp. Thus, I spend money at the barber, on expensive suits, the right skin lotion and I walk around with lip balm because I do not like chipped lips, a small mirror and a shoe brush to dust off my shoes. I do not think that makes me less of a man.”

That we live in liberal times where everything goes is not in doubt. However, whether or not men should groom is a hot debate that will not end soon; the jury is (still) out.

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