Some of you may know that about two months ago I joined a gym. That is going well. Being healthy and fit is a good thing. However, I recently purchased a men's health and fitness magazine (Men's Health, if you're interested), hoping that it would contain some useful articles on fitness and health. Now, call me naive, but I was surprised to discover that there was relatively little about health and fitness, and plenty about sex, how to seduce women and more than half the magazine was filled out with advertising.
This is slightly off topic, but I hate the insidious way so many women are influenced by what 'society' considers is an acceptable woman. By this I mean her size, her weight, her dress size, and other things like body hair. However, it is also disturbing to see that increasingly men are being influenced this way too. Men's Health, for instance, contained numerous images of men ( the majority actually) without a single evident strand of body hair. Now, I understand the power of Photoshop, but even at my local gym I would estimate that 75-85% of all men I see are literally hairless, save for the tops of their heads (if they're fortunate enough). When I go to our local public swimming pool, I see men with the hairiest arms and legs and facial hair, yet not a strand is seen on their torsos, chests, shoulders and back. Now I realise I am possibly getting into contentious territory here, and I am not saying that men and women don't and shouldn't have a choice about how much body hair they have, but equally, why should 'society' and 'societal norms', whatever the hell they are, also dictate what is an acceptable amount and distribution of body hair to have? I am not saying that it is attractive to see men at the pool with rugs of hair on their back, but let's face it, it isn't their fault that genetically they are this way. It is natural after all. And men are increasingly becoming as obsessed with weight, shape and looks as women are, with hugely detrimental effects to their self-esteem and health. Both men and women are victims here. Just for the record, I'd much rather know a woman or man who is hairy and is a lovely person, than some vacuous, dictated-to 'individual' who suffers the monthly pain of having vast swathes of body hair ripped out by hot wax. Even more disturbingly, I've read a number of reports of girls who aren't even at the age of puberty yet who are asking their mothers (and who knows who else) to take them for arm and leg waxes. Well done society - you're doing a great job...
So where does perfume figure in this post/rant? Well, before I get to that, I wanted to quote some of the vacuous drivel that can be contained in Men's Health and probably many other magazines. Such as: "Fight fat and win!", "17 sex moves that build muscle", the 18 drugs your body needs now!" And while I'm ranting, what is the obsession with 50 Shades of Grey? Every other magazine I've looked at over the last few months sees fit to presume that every man thinks every woman has a secret yearning for bondage, and that every woman has read 50 Shades of Grey (and thinks it is actually a literary masterpiece) and thinks it is the gold-standard for how to engage in bondage.
Anyway, I looked at the advertisements in Men's Health and in order, the the perfumes advertised were: Bleu de Chanel, Armani Code, Dolce & Gabbana Pour Femme and Pour Homme, Calvin Klein Encounter and Aramis. That's as mainstream, safe and boring as it gets. Between waxing, fantasizing about nipple clamps (and watches it seems, there were scores of adverts for these) and silk ties, it seems men on the cutting edge of what society wants them to be are also happy to buy mundane, they-all-smell-like-each-other-but-my-mate-likes-it-so-it-must-be-cool perfumes.