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Are Men Really Hooked on Looks?

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Beauty has long been linked with health. For centuries our genes have driven us to seek out a good-looking mate to increase our chances of producing healthy offspring. Psychologists tell us that it's in a woman's nature to attract men with beauty.

Beauty has long been linked with health. For centuries our genes have driven us to seek out a good-looking mate to increase our chances of producing healthy offspring.

Psychologists tell us that it's in a woman's nature to attract men with beauty. Women have a limited amount of opportunity to reproduce only 30-odd years (with time out for nine-month pregnancy cycles) compared to a man's ability to reproduce for 60 or more years.

Despite 100 years of feminism and the fact that we hope to have evolved beyond living simply to survive and reproduce, beauty is a multi-billion dollar industry. In addition, it now appears that men are also becoming hooked on their own looks.

Men's health magazines feature headlines such as "Look Thinner Instantly!", "Get Back in Shape!", and "15 Foods That Fight Fat!" as top-selling concerns for men. After decades of challenging women to match the unrealistic portrayals of glossy models smeared all over magazines, bus shelters, billboards, and television, now marketing and media are showing men how they should look, and men are opening their wallets to buy health and beauty.

Men around the world spend $13.5 billion a year on cosmetic products not only shampoos and hair gel, but body sprays, hair dyes, and moisturizers. In fact, hair colour is as popular with boys and young men as it is with the aging baby boomers. According to a recent US Market for Teen and Tween Grooming Products Report, by 2008 males between the ages of eight and 18 will represent a potential market of $2.8 billion to the health and beauty care industry.

The most recent report of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons states that more than 8.7 million cosmetic surgery procedures were performed in 2003 up 32 percent over the 2002 numbers. Nose jobs were the most popular surgical procedure among men, followed by eyelid surgery and liposuction. Men can also buy a firmer jaw line, and while women line up for breast implants, men seek pectoral implants. A 2004 article on the website Beautyworlds: The Culture of Beauty beautyworlds.com states that 38 percent of men are now dissatisfied with the size of their chests; 34 percent of women are dissatisfied with their breasts.

Aside from the risks of unnecessary surgery and the dangers of irritants, toxins, bleaches, peroxides, solvents, and other chemicals in beauty products and practices, the simple reality is that true health and beauty cannot be purchased. There are many men and women beautiful by industry standards who struggle with both their physical and emotional health.

While Men's Health magazine (February 2005) reports that 37 percent of men want more "booty calls" (one-night stands), and there are an ever-increasing number of shiny men worldwide, I like to believe that most men are wiser and healthier than this. Congratulations to those who understand and appreciate that real health and beauty come naturally.

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