The saving grace of capitalism is that perceived immorality goes out the window when the potential customer demographic gets large enough. That’s how we got bilingual milk ads (featuring Salma Hayek and Sofia Vergara), and why Time Warner Cable has a float in our local Gay Pride Prade. (Of course, it’s also how we got cigarettes for women.) At any rate, the number of men sporting nail polish has apparently hit a tipping point, with new lines of “male polish” that include Nails for Males, Man Glaze, and Man-e-Cure.
MSNBC’s Health on Today writes about the trend among professional male athletes to get pedicures, calling it, “athletic dudes’ girly little secret.” Though the first paragraph refers to “busting the stereotype” that professional nail care is just for women, the article makes a clear distinction between “girly pedis” and a sports pedicure.
- less a luxury and more about keeping their feet in great shape
- It’s as much medical as it is cosmetic
- more for relaxation as opposed to making my feet look pretty
On the other hand (pun not intended until I saw it in print), entertainment celebrity men seem to be increasingly showing off their decorative toes and fingers.
(Find out who they are here.) Apparently, the fashion for fingers is black or blue, with a little earth tone thrown in. It’s manly if you only paint one finger, or leave one unpainted. Feet get more freedom, with even a little pink showing up down under. On the site introducing men’s lines of nail polish, the biggest debate seems to be whether we really need gender-specific lines of polish (although maybe a better question would be whether anyone needs to buy something called “Party Girl Creme”). Here are some of the comments of guys who do their nails:
- I like that the companies are starting to acknowledge men’s use of color, and having collections “for men” helps legitimize it in the eyes of our skeptics – I know the companies are really just interested in expanding their market and selling product, but I still feel like I have their support and encouragement, that I’m not alone in saying “There’s nothing wrong with this!”
- I do it because I love the way that it feels and looks.
- When you remember how the earring trend for men began as being considered for gays only, then took off for a large number of guys, it looks a lot like men wearing nail polish may follow a similar path. If me or my wife have anything to say about it, it will be sooner rather than later because we really like the way my feet look polished!
- Women were not supposed to wear tattoos, but they have also adopted the tattoo trend. Remember the conversation 20 years ago about men wearing earrings???
Personally, I think this is great — quite a refreshing change from the comments when Jenna Lyons painted her son’s toenails pink in a J. Crew ad. But I do find it interesting that so many commenters seem to make the point that “it’s not weird for men to paint their nails because hey, I’m straight!”An article from the Fall 2011 issue (Vol. 1, Issue II) of The Duke Journal of Gender and Sexuality makes a similar point about responses to the J. Crew ad. “When gay activists argue that pink does not equal gay, and thus people should not worry, activist[s] still do not address the bigger problem of the public’s desire for a non-gay outcome.” (Sofia Wilson. Pedicure Panic! The Public’s Reconciliation of Gay Children in the Media.)
Then again, the more guys are comfortable wearing nail polish and sporting pink, the less my son stands out in a crowd, and the less likely he’ll be to have the crap beaten out of him. So it’s hard to argue with reducing stigma by trying to separate the men-in-pink = feminine = gay trinity.
You know that trinity , right? This video of Mitt Romney released earlier today demonstrates he’s well-versed on it, as he is offered a tie and lisps, “Oh, I’ll take the pink one!”
(You can see the fuller exchange between Romney and Sean Hannity here – they also slam John Edwards for being pretty, and Hannity proclaims himself “a brave man” for wearing a pink tie himself.)
Pulling the pink-girly-gay trifecta apart certainly makes it easier for little boys to be themselves, though it’s a valid question whether it further stigmatizes feminine gay men.