Although self-care is a culture dominated by women, that needs to change because guys should be part of it too.
Social and cultural education is often a significant barrier for men when it comes to self-care because they don’t want to appear as “too girly” or be seen to take too much care about the way they look, what they eat, or how their skin feels.
This is a major misconception which men worldwide have been struggling with for a very long time. But now, it is time to break this unwritten “rule” and encourage men to practise self-care too.
Media Contributes to This Stigma
Let’s be honest, media is in love with #self-care these days, but only when it comes to women. There are nearly 16 million posts on Instagram with the #selfcare tag and those posts show simple daily lifestyle choices such as eating healthily and practising good sleep or exercising habits to more complex wellness habits such as yoga or mindfulness. Yet, among all these posts, very few of them represent men practising self-care.
The Internet, and most media channels in general, are full of images of women taking long bubble baths, applying face masks, and practising mindfulness to represent self-care.
Our intention is far from sounding like men’s rights activists; but let’s be honest, how many images, videos or ads that represent men practising self-care have you seen recently? The answer is most likely “none” or “very few”. So, why don’t we invite more men to take better care of themselves by showing that there’s nothing “too girly” about it?
Media, social media, in particular, has a powerful influence on our perceptions and beliefs. So, if the media keeps showing that “pampering” is only practised by women, it isn’t a surprise that men don’t feel confident enough to take long bubble baths or apply face masks too. Or, at least, they don’t feel confident talking about it out loud.
Moreover, the fact that media isn’t exactly promoting self-care focusing on men is creating a lack of entry points for men. Compared to women, who have all sorts of avenues to learn and hear about self-care products and services that work from them, men don’t really have this advantage. For example, women can talk with their friends, which men can’t do because they’re scared of being seen as “too girly”. Or, women can watch beauty bloggers or read magazines, whereas, for men, there is a lot less access to information.
So, it is about time we change that. We need to show men that it is OK, and even recommended, for them to use high-quality moisturizers, face masks, and practice mindfulness too.
The Market is Starting to Change
For a long time, some men brands have contributed to this stigma as well. For example, Axe, the brand that sells male grooming products, has been criticised in the past for practising toxic masculine advertising. Yet, in 2017, the company made a major shift in their approach and launched the “It Is Ok For Guys” campaign that aimed to reveal how deeply young men struggle with “toxic masculinity”.
Dove, the personal care brand, focused on advertising beauty and self-care for women for a very long time, and the brand’s main focus these days remains to attract women to take better care of their bodies. Yet, in 2010, the brand also made a change in their advertising strategy and started to focus on promoting self-care among men by involving father figures in their ads.
Now, it isn’t just those big brands that are starting to present a new perspective for men. There are also a lot of small and medium businesses with all kinds of self-care products and services that are starting to focus on attracting men just as much as they focus on targeting women. Therefore, data from Allied Market research projects points out that the global market for men’s personal care will reach $166 billion by 2022.
Moreover, a 2018 survey from the American Med Spa Association points out that men outspent women by 13 % in the industry, including the use of beautification treatments like injectables which are often referred to as “brotox”. So, considering this data, the study predicted that over the next decade, millennial men would increase from 10% of the medical spa sector to 30%.
Men Deserve to Take Time for Some Self-Care and Talk Openly About It
Just as much as women do, men deserve to take some time to practice self-care and they deserve for the market to give them the products and services they need for it.
The self-care sector has been overwhelmingly directed toward women. So, it is about time for more brands that sell self-care products and services for men to join the market. This way, people won’t consider self-care feminine or a sign of weakness, and it will become a normal practice among men too.
From practising good hygiene, exercising, eating healthy, to practising mindfulness, and even have a “pampering day” once in a while, these are all practices that will help men take better care of themselves.
Yet, although more and more men have started to practice some of these self-care habits over the last decade, they’re still not feeling comfortable to talk about them openly; and, it isn’t just the pampering habits they are not talking about, but their mental and emotional wellbeing as well.
Holistic self-care practices such as yoga and meditation, for example, can have a major impact on helping with depression and anxiety. But, if we don’t make men feel comfortable about practising them, we’re basically making them feel uncomfortable about accepting that their mental and emotional states aren’t always in perfect shape.
It is time for all of us to normalise self-care in all its many forms for men. Adding more of it on media would be a good start to change a few minds about this stigma so that more people will accept this culture of self-care among men.