With Movember just out of the way, it’s time we revisit age-old symbols of masculinity and come up with, let’s just say, more iconoclast ideals.
‘Why?’ you ask. Because the only thing constant is change. Because ever since TimothéeChalamet and Harry Styles stepped on the scene, the world has recalibrated their idea of what it means to ‘exude masculine appeal’.
Here then are a few trends that you should tick off your list to be the modern-day man for all seasons.
“Always marry a man with pierced ears…’, goes the urban adage, ‘…for they have experienced pain and know how to buy jewellery.’ Honestly, the jewellery shouldn’t be too tough for Indian men to consider carrying off. Many of us already have pierced ears and wear multiple rings with precious stones, while an even larger number wear either a bangle (for religious reasons) or a shiny gold chain (for the sheer vanity of it).
Extend this a bit further to include pendants, armbands and bracelets. One can keep upping the ante all the way to a choker set.
For those who think jewellery is an utter waste and men shouldn’t indulge in it, well, the next time you think of putting down the premium on a Datejust, remember that nothing is more useless for pure functionality (and stands redefined as being all about the aesthetic) than a wristwatch!
Well, I largely blame technology but also, partially, the GenZ for this. Their obsession with skinny-fit jeans meant that the pockets became about as functional as they had almost always been on most women’s articles of clothing i.e. not at all. Which is why suddenly it became okay for men to carry a bag around the entire day. Now, if we’re going to lug it all the time, it only makes sense to choose one specifically suited to our needs. Just like messenger bags and laptop bags evolved to become commonplace, so will totes and clutches.
Add to this the tech-induced lifestyle which requires us to carry at least two screens of varying sizes and a battery pack that can power them for a week. Then there are multiple cords, the wireless headphones (which nowadays usually pack into a case the size of a small cabin trolley), a little snack for emergencies, a coffee cup and a water bottle — the last two being a sign of one’s sustainability quotient. There is nothing un-macho about being organised. If anything, it can be a serious plus point, just like the man who puts the seat down after using the WC!
Since we have already mentioned skinny jeans, let’s talk a bit more about clothes. The world today is a lot more receptive to individual sartorial sensibilities. Not everybody has to subscribe to the lumbersexual aesthetic, nor must they disregard all fashionable instincts to hide behind the sapiosexual moniker. Anything is fine, as long as you are comfortable in it.
Which is why it aches me to see brands still churning out the same product in pink for women and darker hues for men. With fluid ideas emerging of how one likes to present themselves, it feels terribly limiting to dictate what one can or must wear. Personally, I am the sum total of two looks – it’s either oversized hoodies with ripped jeans and sneakers or a bespoke shirt and suit with mahogany leather custom brogues – there is no in-between.
4. Skincare, Grooming and Makeup
Grooming isn’t merely necessary for the body but also for the mind. From a well-combed mane to kempt facial hair, neat nails, clean feet and skin that looks hydrated and nourished. A man who can take care of his body is not vain, merely concerned enough to present his best version to the world every day. Sure, it needs discipline and who has ever been pulled up for that?
Once we open up to grooming and skincare for men, that brings us to makeup – why draw the line there? For me, I know why – I am just too lazy to put in the effort needed to acquire the requisite motor skills for applying makeup perfectly. If tomorrow I win the million-dollar jackpot and can finally afford the mayordomo I deserve, don’t be surprised if I flash new nail colour every day or rely on my eyeshadow to reflect my current mood.
This is a moot one because, unlike the others, it doesn’t really have a physical manifestation. But perhaps that is what makes this one so crucial on this list. Men admit to having emotions, but it’s their blatant display – either by ourselves or others, even friends – that seems to cause us physical discomfort. It doesn’t help that most of our communication is either monosyllabic or non-verbal and, to boot, we are bad listeners.
Not just being in touch with your emotive side but finding it an appropriate vent to release; to be able to share and benefit from the joy of sharing (and not merely the schadenfreude bit of it) – that’s what masculinity today is about. What else are podcasts if not a deep-seated attempt to find a voice for millions of unspoken emotions?
Sometimes, we don’t need something to be broken to replace it and this may be just one of those moments in history. It takes a confident man to embrace androgyny; neutrality is the new masculinity. One can get with it or choose to continue living under a rock, either way, the world will transform into a better place for it.