Styling Masculinity: Gender, Class, and Inequality in the Men’s Grooming Industry

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Last update was on: May 13, 2018 4:44 pm

The twenty-first century has seen the emergence of a new style of man: the metrosexual. Overwhelmingly straight, white, and wealthy, these impeccably coiffed downtown specialists spend big money on everything from facials to pedicures, all part of a multi-billion-dollar male grooming industry. Yet simply because this innovative study reveals, even as the industry encourages guys to invest more in their presence, it still relies on women to do much of the work.

Styling Masculinity investigates how men’s beauty salons have persuaded their clientele to regard them as strong spaces. To answer this question, sociologist Kristen Barber goes inside Adonis and The Executive, two upscale men’s salons in The south. Conducting detailed observations and extensive interviews with both customers and employees, she shows just how feminine salon workers not only perform the physical labor of snipping, tweezing, waxing, and exfoliating, but as well perform the emotional work force,, labor force of pampering their clients and pumping up all their masculine egos.

Letting beauty shop employees tell their own testimonies, Barber not only documents occasions when these workers are objectified and demeaned, but also explores how their jobs allow for creativity and confer a degree of professional dignity. In the process, she traces the vast network of economic and social relations that undergird the burgeoning male beauty industry.

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