In Japan, the most popular grooming brand for young men is Gatsby. This name always makes me giggle, because, well, things didn't work out so well for the literary Gatsby. From my American viewpoint, the number of Gatsby products is astounding—more than a dozen colors of hair dye, styling putty, six varieties of deodorant, on and on and on. Men have as many beauty products as women do!
It makes sense, though: A recent story shows that young Japanese men are grooming themselves in a way that makes your average metrosexual seem like Charles Bronson in comparison. And their female counterparts consider it sexy, as shown by the heartthrob status of actor/model Takuya Kimura, pictured here. reveals the latest trend for guys in Japan: looking pretty, not masculine. Take a look at what it involves:
"I shave the tops and bottoms of my eyebrows to make them look cleaner," said Shinya Abe, 21, a wispy third-year student at Kobe University in western Japan. Abe, who also uses a men's eyebrow kit of brow comb, brow scissors and tweezers to keep his brows in line, says many of his classmates go further, shaving off their eyebrows and pencilling in new ones. Some go to aesthetic salons, or "esute", to get facials, manicures and pedicures.
To find out more, and to see a Gatsby commercial that would not go over too well on American airwaves,
This level of intensive grooming is indicative of the current preference for smooth-skinned, gentle-looking men. "Right now, the emphasis is on 'pretty', and nice, delicate men are in style," said Mayu Shimokawa, chief manager of product promotions at Mandom, the corporation that produces Gatsby. "Men's tastes are changing and we are changing to keep up with their tastes."
It's always interesting to peek into beauty ideals around the world, and there's something I like about a culture that says men can be pretty (without being called "gay" in a nasty way). But I'm not sure that I want to date a guy who spends his morning pencilling in his eyebrows, either.
Let me know what you think of these Gatsby commercials, which star the aforementioned superstar Takuya Kimura. I kinda dig the look in the first one—it's pretty hip and confident. The second one, in which he suggestively sprays deodorant, is more risque—enough so that I had to move my screen away from Intern's eyes, lest he accuse me of trying to pervert his young, impressionable mind.