Morgan Spurlock, documentarian, reveals in his film Mansome what may be a last personal taboo: the business of improving how men look and feel, through no-holds-barred, intensive grooming practices. The kind of pampered, day spa approach women can access without anyone blinking.
Yes, the documentary looks at that kind of feel-good grooming. Eyebrow threading. Facials. Chatting about grooming, mulling over the pros and cons of different kinds of treatments. To polish or not to polish ones nails. Extreme facial hair, extreme lack of body hair.
Insanity or points along a continuum of male grooming?
Is there a bright line between the stereotypical mindset that a truly manly man shaves with a sharpened rock and washes his hair with a bar of Lava soap, and the completely obsessed primping of some of those the documentary considers?
Mansome does identify a trend or, more to the point, a vital truth. Many men, maybe most men like to look good. Some just like to take particularly intense steps to improve their appearance. Is there a right or wrong way to do this? Beauty may be skin deep, but if you want to feel good in that skin, you might need to find it first. Seriously. It’s under there, somewhere.
Finding it may involve conquering some critical challenges inherent in our attitude toward male grooming. Including that fact that “male grooming,” as a concept, makes some snicker, discomfited by the idea that a man might get a manicure, and not just gnaw his fingernails. Does a man deserves to eliminate a unibrow, have the right to halt a receding hairline, should be able to mow down a furry back?
Or are these only odd fetishes strangely obsessed individuals get stuck on, while normal men behave in a completely different way? Is Mansome a parody, or a slice of the male grooming pie?
Like many other concepts examined under the bright light of other documentaries, each of us needs to find our own way to what we think might be our truth, perhaps a balanced way of looking at things.
Without knowing what extremes are out there, we cannot find our balance. Mansome helps to define a side to the balance.