Jewish World Review Jan. 20, 2006/ 20 Teves, 5766

Greg Crosby

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Consumer Reports

The physical issue | Beauty, health, and fitness are all about the body — how we look, how we feel. The physical issue; the importance of one’s appearance and keeping healthy are at the forefront of popular culture. It’s the great preoccupation of our society. And now beauty salons are not just for women anymore, there are dozens of “men only” spas popping up all over the country.

According to the International Spa Association, men make up about 30 percent of all spa goers. Manicures, pedicures, facials, waxing, and even cocoa butter body rubdowns and seaweed body wraps are some of the services offered for guys at these places. I don’t know, but it seems to me that any man who spends this kind of time and energy on his appearance has got to be a narcissist, an egomaniac or an actor. Maybe some of these guys who are lying around in the salons getting their legs waxed have a tad too much time on their hands, what do you think?

There are loads of really expensive men’s spas in the big cities like New York and L.A. — places that offer big screen plasma TV’s while you loll around on leather massage beds having a drink and getting your toenails polished. Hey, don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of having a drink and watching T.V. — it’s the cocoa butter and toenail thing that stops me cold. I just don’t get it. Call me a party pooper, but I just can’t get into the whole concept of getting my body hair waxed and sitting on hot stones. Guess I’m not “today’s man.” But I already knew that.

Face lifts, collagen injections, botox, nose and boob jobs and other plastic surgery techniques are being done on a regular basis, not only on middle-aged vain women, but more and more on young girls! And not necessarily girls who are horribly deformed or ugly, or even just plain looking either. Girls who decide that they just don’t happen to like the shape of their nose, or their chin, or bust size are getting surgically altered at ridiculously and increasingly younger ages.

Now lots of women who desire longer eyelashes are getting eyelash extensions. From about $150 to $450 some beauty salons will apply these extensions directly onto the natural eyelash hair with surgical glue. The entire process takes two to three hours and the fake lashes will last up to two months. Then you’ve got to have the whole magilla done again. The process can be painful and the most serious drawback can be gluing the eyelids together. Y’know, to my way of thinking, just using those two little words in the same sentence, “eyes” and “glue” makes me really nervous.

Teeth whitening has become a huge deal in the last few years. All the toothpaste brands have at least one whitening formula in their line, some have several. Dentists do this thing on a regular basis for hundreds of dollars. And there are “whitening clinics” you can go to. Again, maybe movie stars need to get their teeth bright white (although stats from the “golden era” made do without it) but why does the fat guy at the car repair place need it? Or me?

I actually got sucked into trying one of those “overnight whitening” deals that you can buy at the market. You brush this goo on your teeth every night for two weeks before you go to bed and it is supposed to make your teeth several shades whiter than normal. Maybe it worked a little, or maybe it was my imagination, but really, who cares? In the end I decided it was a stupid waste of time. My attitude now is, as long as my teeth are working and don’t hurt me, I don’t want to fool with them. As long as they don’t turn black or something, I’ll just keep my teeth their natural color — I’m not looking to do close-ups with Catherine Zeta-Jones any time soon.

In general, I tend toward the natural in all aspects of appearance. Natural hair coloring, no hairpieces, no body hair removal, no youth enhancing injections, no illustrations on my skin, none of that stuff. I do wash myself, however — I’m not THAT natural. I also shave my beard, trim my nails, and get regular haircuts — so I guess I’m not all that natural after all.

Sure, looking good is nice. Feeling good is very nice. But DOING GOOD is the best. Too bad more people aren’t as concerned with doing good as they are with looking good — if they were, we’d have very little to worry about in this world.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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