Are Men More Vain Than Women?
Jan 08, 2007, 3:22 pm PST
The Unspoken Man Code has many rules. Next pitcher's on us. No crying at any movies rated PG or lower. Eyes forward at the urinal at all times. Another: Never admit you're worried about how you look.
It's doubtful that you'll hear many men ask anybody how they look in their jeans, or if their back hair is getting too Konglike, or if that flabby jiggle hanging over the belts is something they should be concerned about. While it may be common for women to articulate their bodily insecurities (in hopes that men will dismiss them, perhaps), men rarely say anything about theirs. That's because they're afraid that women will label them as too vain, too weak, too metro, too feminine, too devoid of the confidence they want and expect in a man.
But the truth is that men care almost as much about their appearance as Lindsay Lohan cares about New Year's Eve. The survey I did for my book Men, Love & Sex showed that 9 in 10 men aren't satisfied with their appearance -- and that they'd jump at the chance at changing one particular part of their body if they could. Consider these truths about men and their appearance -- and then ask yourself, Who's really more vain, women...or men?
Women may buy more shoes, but men drop the big bucks. When asked how much he'd pay for rock-hard abs (if it was only that easy), the average guy would invest $5,000 of his own money in himself. For movie-star looks in general, he'd drop $17,600. The scary fact: Although more women actually pay for cosmetic enhancements, men who seek medical help for their appearance are twice as likely to opt for an invasive cosmetic procedure like liposuction rather than a non-invasive appearance boost.
Men care more about their boobs than you do. Check this out: Only 34 percent of women surveyed said they'd want bigger breasts, but 38 percent of men said they'd want larger pectoral muscles. (If you were wondering, the circumference of the average man's chest is two inches larger than that of a woman's.) Men either have the pecs that are strong enough to break knuckles, or we're subjected to the ubiquitous man-boob barbs. And that hurts. Beating pecs as the top male body issue by the tiniest of jiggles: Just over 40 percent of guys say the gut is the No. 1 body part they'd like to change.
$1.1 billion can buy a lot of hair gel. One of a man's biggest frets comes when he looks down the shower drain and says goodbye to the mane that defines his manhood. American men spend more than $300 million on toupees annually. And $800 million on hair transplants (up to $20,000 for each procedure, which is performed on more than 24,000 men annually-and just 7,000 women).
Now ladies, you may be tempted to decry this as further evidence of the wimpification of the American male. Or say that men are the new women. But let's think this through a little bit. Vanity, of course, can be shallow and self obsessive. As ever, if you take anything to extremes, it becomes a liability. But this time of the year in particular, vanity, properly calibrated, can be a useful form of self-evaluation. And in fact, how we look does have direct corollaries in how healthy we are. That jiggly gut or flabby chest can be a warning of dangerously low metabolism, an early warning sign of high blood pressure, diabetes, even heart disease. And if we take those warnings for what they are, and act to change, our vanity just might turn us around in the short run, and save lives in the long run.
Think men have their appearance priorities in the right place? Or should they be worried about something else when it comes to their image and looks? Let me know.