Man vs Woman: Who Wins the Grooming Contest?

As we stand knee-deep in manure in the paddock of life, we often can’t help but ask ourselves if the grass is really greener on the other side. Sauntering through the meadows wondering “what if I had been a born a bull and not a cow? How would life be different?”  No doubt the pastures are probably much the same shade on both sides of the fence but there’s always room for speculation. I don’t want to argue on which gender wins at life because that’s not as black and white as Daisy the cow. Undoubtedly guys have many struggles that we can’t relate to, but  I’d like to share with you what grooming  looks like from the female paddock. While we are primping, curling, blending, soaking, painting, plucking, rinsing and repeating you lads seem to roll on by, not a care in the world, looking effortlessly handsome after about five whole minutes of grooming.  Lucky bastards.

Let’s start with the most obvious one: makeup. Granted, this one is both a blessing and a curse for females. The arbitrary grind of makeup application is draining and I dream about the amount of extra sleep and money I would have if it was out of the equation. Don’t even try and tell me that girls choose to wear make-up and that we look just as good without it because we don’t. You are misinformed. I can bet that half the girls you think you’ve seen without make-up were wearing foundation and mascara at a minimum; more than likely they woke up 15 minutes before you to smash on some face paint and brush their hair before you woke up.  Trust me on this one; I have tried not wearing makeup before only to be accosted by concerned friends and family: “No Dad, I am not sick. I am just ugly. Thanks for noticing.”

Every girl has a different routine when it comes to makeup but what it boils down to is a combination of skill, investment and expertise developed over a lifetime of trial and error (special thanks to my high-school friend who very politely told me to buy a bronzer without glitter for the day time and to my mum for throwing out my purple hair mascara). My makeup bag is now worth more than what’s in my wallet, not to mention the ten years it took learning to apply nail polish, the three years it took to perfect the art of fake tan and the 437 bottles of foundation I bought before I found the perfect match (and thank you to whoever installed florescent lighting in department stores for that).  And what are we trying to achieve with our groaning make-up bags full of glosses, creams and powders? The “natural” look of course (#iwokeuplikethis #icallbullshit)! Anyone who has seen me without make up and lived to tell the tale will know that in fact I look like the poster girl for a government anti-crystal meth campaign. I definitely wasn’t born with it, thank God there’s Maybelline. There’s good and bad to makeup and actually maybe this is a win for us girls because with all the smoke and mirrors of make-up we can razzle-dazzle you into thinking we’re more Scar-jo than Monster but for boys if you’re ugly… you’re ugly. Soz.

Onto the bathroom – oh, to be a man in the shower. All you have to do is stand there, be naked and enjoy the blissful cascade of temperate water. A lot of guys don’t even use shampoo these days, and really they don’t need to. As we try to steal back some time in the mornings the shower is a bit more like an automated car wash that systematically deploy washes, scrubs and rinses. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, exfoliator, brush teeth, shave legs, rinse conditioner get out moisturise, body face and hands (each with different products) then the arduous task of drying your hair. If you don’t have 6-8 hours to spare then you probably own a $250 turbo powered, ionic, ceramic, and more-powerful-than-my-economical-city-car hairdryer like me.  Guys won’t understand the need for such a powerful piece of machinery… but they also won’t understand the feeling of having a dead otter hanging off your head and the risk-factor for hypothermia if you sit around waiting for your hair to dry naturally. For a girl spending 45 minutes in the bathroom is a given – for a guy it’s a bit suspicious. That’s all I’ll say.

Peeing standing up. That’s a win, but let’s not go any further on that topic because I don’t want to risk get into the whole Freudian envy conversation. Similarly, guys are winning the bathroom game because they are free from the demands of the monthly moon-cycle and the hormonal rollercoaster that comes with it. Some argue that Man-struation actually does happen but I’ve been too busy sobbing hysterically over Grey’s Anatomy and feeding my face with chocolate to have investigated that any further.

And finally, hair removal. I’m all for the man-scaping and there’s definitely increasing pressure on men to get around grooming. I see the barber shops, moustache wax and all that gaff. Still, the pressure is mild for you in comparison. For a lady you’re going to be treated like some kind of lost tribeswoman if you decide not to shave your legs or manage your eyebrows. I don’t need to explain the pain and cost associated with waxing, threading and electrolysis – if the procedure itself doesn’t hurt you the maintenance bill is sure to sting. With the rise of the new lumberjack fad the onus on men to shave is at an all-time low as they try strike the perfect balance between wood cutter and woodland creature, yet still we ladies try to live up to unreasonable standards of hair removal battling shaving rash, in-growns and blunt razors as we fight a futile battle against nature. I absolutely draw the line at arm-shaving; I’m not even going to entertain the idea. I’d rather have the forearms of the Yo-Go gorilla than suffer from cactus-like arm regrowth. End of conversation.

All I know is that I certainly envy the simplicity with which guys can maintain their appearance. The rise of the man-tenance (is that a thing?!) is sure to increase the pressure on men to take a more regimented beautification routine. God knows that there are hordes of you already secretly bleaching your teeth, tanning and waxing when you think no one is looking. Just be aware that  girls can spot a plucked eyebrow, an unseasonal tan and your Hollywood choppers from a mile away so there there’s no point denying, just own it. Guys, however, are still in a lucky position where they can pick and choose their level of grooming. If I was to throw out my razor and grow a healthy crop of armpit hair I would lose all social credibility and be bundled in with hemp-toking hippies. If I didn’t wear makeup I’d probably be quarantined for fear of Ebola and if I threw out my hair routine I’d be Hermione in the first Harry Potter movie.

The apparent downside for guys is that they have fewer avenues for beautification. Sadly, if you’re an ugly guy then you’re in a spot of trouble. But still, I can’t help but think about the cumulative amount of hours I’ve spent buying, applying and removing makeup and all the rest. If I had that time back I probably could’ve walked the Kokoda, learned Spanish and won a bronze in rhythmic gymnastics. But would anyone really care if I was a yellow tooth, uni-browed, hairy little acrobat? No, I think not. Unfortunately for us, Susan Boyle is an exception not a rule, and if you don’t adhere to the minimal social standards for preening you are not likely to get any positive press.

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