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Men join women in the quest for perfection
October 29, 2002
by Tresa McBee

So men are finally feeling inadequate enough to scar their bodies. Welcome to the party. Your first Botox injection is free with purchase of implant.

Call it operating-room equality. Some 1 million men chose elective cosmetic surgery last year to reshape noses, suck out fat, de-droop eyelids, transplant new hair and reduce breasts. No Mr. Costanza and Kramer man-ssiere for these fellows. Clothes alone donŐt make the man when the man must look younger, firmer, buffer, hipper, smoother and all around more manly. Who cares if you look creepily taut? Check out those pecs. Or "male chest enhancements" to use doctor jargon. Seems girls and boys both want bigger, um, chests.

It's not that male plastic surgery is completely new. Where 20 years ago it was unheard of, now men just don't talk about it. Unlike gals who lift shirts to display a new set, men aren't so free. When the Los Angeles Times recently tried to locate men who would discuss their surgeries, most wouldn't open up, so to speak. That social stigma prevents anything today is remarkable. But it seems that the old double standard about men becoming better looking with age while women just grow old doesn't cut it anymore. Surgery does.

Men are discovering what women have known for years: It's easy to feel inadequate. Never "something" enough. For us, it's abundant and buoyant breasts, slim hips, impossible cheekbones and vein-free legs that don't quit and don't touch.

Men, of course, nip and tuck, create cheekbones where none previously existed and pretend that that swimmer's waist is naturally occurring. But many go for size, which, it turns out, does indeed matter.

The Los Angeles Times interviews Frank, who won't reveal his real name, about his new pecs, which he needed because his chest just wasn't large enough. Not after swimming in college or lifting weights for two decades. His arms, legs, back -- those brought compliments. But not his pecs. Decidedly underwhelming. But with two palm-sized implants, Frank's a regular Tom Jones minus the girls tossing underwear. Or maybe not. Frank reports he now wears open shirts with nary a self-conscious thought.

Then there was the young man highlighted on an MTV show -- where else? -- who simply had to get calf implants because, yes, they weren't big enough. This man, whose body would suit a Calvin Klein underwear ad with his flat stomach and muscular arms, couldn't find any exercise to do the trick. But stick some silicone in, and he felt perfect. Now, he told TV land, his body was perfect and no girl would be able to resist. That is, if she could get beyond his objectionable personality. Plastic surgery has limits.

Men have finally caught up. Baby boomers who refuse to age feel fat and flabby when confronted with Antonio Sabato Jr. posing in his undies or Will Smith chasing bad guys in slow mo with his shirt flying open. Forget that famous people are paid to achieve what normal people can't without personal trainers and live-in cooks. Reality can't compete with unreal expectations.

Which women knew long before Britney's navel became ubiquitous and J-Lo's booty burst on the scene. It's why we host Botox get-togethers and liposuction flesh that used to be considered normal on the gender that has babies. It's why we smoke away appetite and never stop feeling fat. It's why Cher has erased interesting ethnicity in favor of looking like freaky plastic. It's why Priscilla Presley and Melanie Griffith have implanted and pulled and pumped up what used to be beautiful but now looks misshapen.

So, guys, with so many boomers leading the way in resculpting imperfections and eliminating life's wrinkles, your numbers will grow as we continually reshape perfection. This equality thing is shaping up nicely.

It's not often you have to catch up to us. Nice to have you on board.

Tresa McBee is a columnist at the Northwest Arkansas Times. She can be reached at tresam@nwarktimes.com.

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