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3.23.2004

The Beauty Regimen that Dare Not Speak its Name

John-

Spot on in your observation about the queering of hygiene. However, this has always seemed to me like a group neurosis, and as such unlikely to be emulated by the straight population en masse. Like the affectation of a lisp, it seems to serve as both sexual signifier and neurotic self-feminization.

When I think of dandies, for some reason I'm always reminded not of Wilde but of the first introduction of Will Scarlet in Pyle's Robin Hood. Mincing along sniffing a rose until Little John decides to take the piss out of him and instead gets a good drubbing.

Whether there is a Darwinian advantage for the hyper-groomed straight male is an interesting question. Certainly among some subsets of straight males there is already a scrupulous attention to hygiene beyond what is considered necessary. P. Diddy, for instance, has certainly had more manicures by now than your average suburban housewife can expect to get in a lifetime. And I have been among hispanic club-going men whose attention to cleanliness and appearance left me feeling, well, not-so-clean. But a Darwinian advantage for such as these? I doubt it.

For one thing, taken beyond a certain point, hygeine becomes - I'm going to say it - unmanly. To take an instance, a friend of mine had laser hair removal done on his face so that he doesn't have to shave. Convenient, yes. Likely to give him an advantage over an otherwise comparable male on the make? Doubtful. And then there's all that extra money you're spending on peels and lotions and waxing that you could be spending on flowers or jewelry or - O great leveller of the Darwinian playing field! - alcohol.

But a question for you: other than earring-wearing and Cher concert-going, what commonly accepted hetero behaviors were pioneered by gay men?

Posted by Doug Brown
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