“Men spend a lot of time grooming!” says company selling grooming tips, and socks

Straight out of the ‘lazily subvert a lazy stereotype’ drawer, we have the revelation in the Daily Mail that nowadays it’s those male types who are most obsessed with their looks:

HE’s the fairest of them all! Men now spend longer on grooming and getting ready than women

British men are no longer able to berate their female partners over how long they take to get ready for a night out – as they’re more likely to be hogging the bathroom themselves.

Recent figures reveal that men are spend longer on their daily grooming routine than females by styling their hair with driers and straighteners and deliberating over their outfit choice.

According to a survey by socked.co.uk, the average man can spend up to 75 minutes every day washing, shaving and styling themselves. This compares with the 70 minutes that women spend on their beauty regime.

Source: Daily Mail, 25 January 2013


Let’s deal first of all with the hideously-couched language: ‘the average man can spend up to 75 minutes each day’. Which really only says ‘men are unlikely to spend more than 75 minutes per day, but may spend any amount of time less than that’. Which really only says absolutely nothing at all.

What’s more, given the nature of these studies, the questions we’re asking, who we’ve chosen to ask and the exact way we’ve chosen to ask them is key – particularly when the outcomes are self-reported, with men being asked to guess how long their average daily grooming regime takes. It’s fair to say there’s good cause to take any results – and subsequent sensationalist headlines – with enough salt as to give your cardiologist nightmares.

While we’re on the subject of taking results with a pillar of salt, it’s worth noting the source of the data:

The website that provides a sock subscription for ‘discerning gentleman’ quizzed 1250 men aged 18-50 on their grooming habits.

I sincerely hope I can’t be alone in refusing to allow the Daily Mail to throw out terms like ‘a sock subscription’ as if this is an actual thing which happens in the actual world we live in. Of the vast, multitudinous glut of sock subscription services out there, which one are we dealing with?

Mark Hall from socked.co.uk welcomed the news as good for mankind.

He said: ‘This is superb news for the British gentleman. At last they’re paying more attention to their personal image, and mankind will be all the better for it.

‘Once men start to take care of themselves, they also start caring for the people and things around them. They turn from mere ‘men’ into ‘gentlemen’.’

Leaving aside the outdated and irritatingly reductive notion that men need to be ‘gentlemen’ (with the many associated implied judgements on behaviour that comes with this), it’s fair to say there’s a major commercial imperative behind the story. It isn’t hard to see how a company founded on offering grooming tips to men and encouraging attention to aesthetic detail – right down to the socks – would be interested in convincing men of the value of grooming.