You might not guess it by ogling passersby in the street, but Americans feel more pressure to care about how they look. In a survey released last month by Allure and GQ magazines, 72 percent of men and 78 percent of women agreed with the statement, “Compared to 10 years ago, men are under more pressure to care about their appearance.” Likewise, 74 percent of male and 82 percent of female respondents agreed that women feel more such pressure than they did 10 years ago.
In our youth-obsessed culture, looking good naturally — or, as the case may be, unnaturally — means looking young. Seventy-nine percent of men in the survey, fielded during the first two months of this year, agreed there’s more pressure than 10 years ago “to look younger than one’s age.” Among women, 92 percent(!) agreed that this is so.
Pressure for men to look good is accompanied by what some will see as progress: Eighty-one percent of male and 83 percent of female respondents agreed that there now “is less of a stigma on men who take pride in their appearance.”
Many men have seized this opening. Sixty-six percent reported that they “use more grooming products than men of my father’s generation” and 63 percent that they “enjoy my daily grooming routine.” Eighty-eight percent said men of their generation “spend more money on grooming products than men of our father’s generation.”
Still, many are reluctant to admit that their looks are a matter of high concern to them. Thus, 65 percent agreed with the statement, “I like to look my best, but often pretend not to care.”
As a relatively new phenomenon, men’s extensive use of grooming products skews young. Fifty-one percent of the 18-34-year-olds, vs. 32 percent of those 35 and older, reported using facial moisturizer; 64 percent of 18-34s, vs. 41 percent of 35-plusers, use hair-styling products.
While there is less novelty in women spending plenty of time and money on grooming, the poll finds an intensification of such efforts. Sixty-four percent of the female respondents agreed that “I use more beauty products than women of my mother’s generation”; 92 percent agreed that today’s women spend more money on such products than their mothers did. The chart gives an indication of men’s and women’s priorities when they’re deciding whether to buy a new grooming/beauty product.