Nip/Tuck: new career strategy for men

Nip/ tuck – a new career strategy for men

I recently came under fire from some male friends of a “certain age”, complaining that I needed to write more about the problems that men face in their careers. So I was delighted when news this week featured the latest figures relating to male cosmetic surgery and could oblige.

Exactly a year ago while examining the value of make-up for professional women in the workplace, one of my contacts, a senior lawyer, William,  mentioned that a growing number of his peers were resorting to cosmetic surgery to support their careers. “An increasingly number of men in my circle have had cosmetic surgery to maintain a more youthful appearance, because they see it as a professional advantage.”

Remember, you heard it here first!

It wasn’t that I didn’t believe him, I simply didn’t take it too seriously. I couldn’t understand how sporting a “6 pack” could make a difference. Presumably it’s not on display in the workplace, or at least not the offices I go to, so more appropriate for the beach or bedroom than the boardroom. So I was surprised to hear in the media,  suggestions that the number of nip/tucks  for men showed a higher increase in 2011,  than in any other demographic.  Only cursory research showed similar trends in Australia and the United States.  One of the reasons cited was to gain, or maintain,  professional credibility and advancement.

Increase
Male surgery  now accounts for 10% of all cosmetic procedures in the UK, with a tummy tuck seeing a 15% rise in popularity, as men turn to the knife to eliminate or reduce their middles. The second most popular procedure for men, rising by 7% was the removal of ” moobs”  – man boobs (gynaecomastia). This surgery was followed by liposuction with an 8% rise, along with rhinoplasty (nose job), blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), otoplasty (ear correction) and face and brow lifts.

Appearance of control 
I immediately picked up the phone to William.  We went through some lawyer-speak for ” I told you so” and then got down to business.

He elaborated  ” A forgotten demographic is the 50 something executive,  by anyone’s standards  probably successful,  but feeling the pressure from younger professionals, both male and female, coming hard on his heels, through the ranks. Many will have to work longer than they anticipated. Some have re-married and have young children even at this age.  Our culture places great emphasis on physical appearance as an outward sign of what is basically  power, control, high energy, seeming competent, capable and in charge. Old-looking men with straining shirt buttons over bulging bellies don’t give off that impression. We work long hours, have business lunches or sandwiches at our desks or on trains. Combined with family commitments,  we struggle to get to the gym or take the exercise we need. For many this is a quick and relatively painless solution.”

He put me in touch with George, a gentleman no stranger to the scalpel,  with 2 cosmetic procedures already notched up, a tummy tuck and eyelid surgery, as well as Botox injections.   Clearly my tips on Touche Eclat had fallen on deaf ears.  “ I work in  a client facing environment and was starting to look a bit paunchy, saggy and tired. Companies don’t like to work with people who look as though they lack energy and permanently seem in need of a vacation. It was well worth it and I have no regrets!” Whatever happened to the revered elder statesman role?

But anyway who is going to see this perfectly re-constructed abdomen in a professional environment I asked somewhat directly?  George did smile when he expanded  “ It’s about confidence, my suit fits correctly. I just feel better.”  

Is 60 the new 40?
To repeat what I said last year, this rising trend to attempt to create washboard abs or any other age reducing surgical procedure, simply to stay ahead in the career game,  seems a sad commentary on our times and corporate cultures. The ultimate irony of course is that youth unemployment figures are at an all time high.   Could it be that our rejuvenated 50-something Boomers, with their  newly achieved 6-packs are getting in the way?

If 60 is really the new 40, then things are not going to improve any time soon for Gen Y.

  What do you think?

28 responses to “Nip/Tuck: new career strategy for men

  1. It is a sad state of affairs. I understand the motivation, but the objective should be good health, so I don’t agree with the methods. Cosmetic surgery is a short cut and no replacement for taking care of oneself.
    I have to confess I can’t help feeling a little smug – along the lines of “now you know what it feels like” to be judged on physical appearance.

    • Robin -thanks for your comment. It would seem that we are in a youth worshipping culture and neither men or women are immune from the pressures to conform to an artificially designated “perfect” stereotype. I still hope as Annabel says that we will all be respected for who we are and the way we look.

  2. Excellent article Dorothy.
    It would be naive to think that 50+ executive men do not get the same pressure than “mature” women to look young, sexy and healthy. In a though job market for the baby boomers, sex appeal does play a role in hiring decisions. Some people have lucky genes and look 10 year younger than their real age, but for those who don’t have this competitive advantage, I can understand that they feel anxious enough to go for surgery. However cutting your belly fat without exercising and eating healthy food will not make you healthier, your heart will still keep its fat and your arteries their cholesterol and atherosclerosis, keeping same risk for heart attacks or strokes.

  3. “the lines that define my face
    are forever over-ruled;
    etched upon my face remain
    my memories of you”
    Wrote those lines when I was 19. Dont feel any different today. My face is my memories, my history, my life. Don’t want it surgically erased.

    • Thanks Annabel – I agree all seems very drastic, hat men and women feel compelled to make themselves appear younger. The irony being that the longevity of older employees in the workplace, might be contributing to the exclusion of younger generations from career opportunities.

  4. Great post Dorothy, didn’t realise men had 10% of the cosmetic surgery procedures. ‘Tis very sad that businesses can still be so shallow as to take into account the looks of a potential member of their team. Our faces show our characteristics, happiness, questioning, confidence and all the wrinkles of our journey through life’s experiences. Why would anyone want to change in such a false manner?
    I always believe, being true to oneself is the only way 🙂

    • Thanks Lynne – I agree – but this sadly doesn’t seem to be the world we live in. Even a demographic which at one time would have been considered to be highly successful and enjoying the role of ” wise elder” is feeling the pressure.

  5. Consider this, 40 years ago, how many women colored their hair? I don’t know the answer, but I sure don’t remember it being common–it was just too costly, or certainly more money than the average person was willing to shell out or put into their budgets. Today, teenagers can “afford” to color their hair and get their nails done regularly, join a gym, don expensive “sneakers” etc–go figure. Lots of things were too expensive 30-40 years ago…what about making a long distance phone call–but was it more expensive than our cell phones cost us today?

    We used to keep up with the “Jones” with our home, yard, and cars–I think we’ve just extended our “keeping up” to tummy tucks, tanning, toning and tech –way more business opportunities to jump into for sure, way more money to get spent….all still makes me say “What economic crisis”? But I have certainly digressed….

    • Hi Pam – apart from incomprehension at current spending patterns it would seem that a growing number of men, see surgery as an investment in the extension of their professional lives.

      Interestingly, all the comments on this post have been from women. Now what, if anything, does that tell us?

  6. I wonder why they didn’t include hair transplants. It’s as costly and complex as any other cosmetic procedure, and although I don’t have the data, it seems to be quite popular.

    It’s sad for all of us that our youth-oriented culture doesn’t value the elderly the way many so-called primitive cultures did in the past. I don’t blame individuals who resort to these measures. We are bombarded by youthful images. Been to any movies lately? And although I’ve noticed women who decide not to color their hair, I don’t see too many business women wearing comfortable men’s style shoes to work.

    I think most people who undergo cosmetic surgery are embarrassed. It’s more acceptable for women now to admit they color their hair. But for men, this is a newer arena, which might be part of the reason you’re not hearing from them.

    I wish there were more movies like “It’s Complicated.” – Hilarious and portrays people in their 60’s as sexual beings.

    • Thanks Jesse for your insightful comment. Yes it is interesting why the engagement has come from women!

      Corporate culture and values are male driven. It’s interesting that as so many products and media outlets place a huge emphasis on the signficance of appearing and/or being youthful to succeed, that the men who are part of the process in creating this message are now being caught up in the fall out – lack of confidence.

      The irony is that never have there been so many young people (chronologically) out of work. So what is the real message? We look for youthful people but with the expertise and gravitas of someone with 25 years’ experience. Is is me or is that crazy?

      • It’s not you, Dorothy. You are quite articulate about how crazy it is. I’ve spent a lot of my working years being the only woman in the room. When I was younger I could cajole the guys into doing things they didn’t naturally gravitate toward, like planning before initiating a major change effort. Now, even though there are more women in the room, I find the guys don’t respond in the same way. I have this strange sense they feel like mom is telling them what to do. Maybe I’m just in a transition phase and when I get old and cute I can start pushing a little harder and get away with it like Dr. Ruth.

        I used to think that the aging process hit women the hardest because men became “distinguished” while women became invisible. But now I’m starting to observe that those line are not a clear anymore.

        Thanks for your astute observations and raising an intriguing and important topic.

      • Thanks Jesse – I think that’s what I thought too – men became distinguished and women simply aged. If you read my post last yeat Make-up: a career issue for men and women (http://dorothydalton.com/2011/02/28/makeup-a-career-issue-for-both-men-and-women/) it would seem that too is changing. Women can diminish the impact of the visible aging process via any number of products – make-up, hair colour and so on and are not penalised for it. In fact today’s older women are probably the most youthful and healthy generation ever.

        Men on the other hand don’t have that social freedom and acceptance of using those products, although the sale of those items is also on the increase. So many are feeling the pinch.

        Interesting development isn’t it?

  7. It’s a very interesting post. Changes on the surface does not make the person in question healthier, that growing belly will be back again.

    Personally I aim for elderly statesman. The surgical knife is for medical reasons only and I do my best to avoid the need for that.

  8. What an interesting post, Dorothy. I’m reminded of a post I saw recently on what I think is the best (and best researched) nutrition and lifestyle blog on the web: marksdailyapple.com

    Here’s the link to the post http://bit.ly/zToG3R Just look at how much younger the man looks after taking an active role in his health. Amazing, isn’t it? And look at Mark, the blogger. He’s 58!

    I think most people would agree that changing one’s lifestyle is preferable to undergoing surgery for the concerns you write about. But many will say things like “I don’t have the time” or “I’m not disciplined enough.”

    But thousands of people who have said and thought those things HAVE transformed themselves, via the principles on Mark’s blog. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of success stories there to look through.

    It’s a great thing to know about, so I’m very happy to share it.

    Susan

    • Thanks Susan – those pictures really show what can be done by a healthy diet and fitness regime.

      I think the main complaint from the desk bound sources is that they struggle to find time – or is it really discipline. Employers should also think about the health of their employees and how employee health is an HR issue.

  9. WOW! I wonder how the stats look in South Africa. What is top of mind for me is the growth, considering the lean financial times people are going through and therefore practising. That means the growth rate can only increase as people find their new balance as things get better! If the gym and a healthy way of living can’t fix me, nip tuck is not an option!

  10. Thabo thanks for your comment. I couldn’t see any stats for South Africa -but let’s hope healthy living wins the day!

  11. Many thanks to Jesse Lyn Stoner for offering 3 prizes to the first 3 men to add a comment! The first 2 prizes have gone to Bengt Wendel and Thabo Hermanus! Thank you gentlemen your – engagement is appreciated!

    The 3rd is up for grabs! Any takers guys?

  12. Thanks for the provocative post, Dorothy. To place a stake or two in the ground, I’m male, I’ll be 66 next month, and I live in the US.

    I think that one reason that men are doing more cosmetic surgery than even a few years ago is that they can. There are more cosmetic surgeons who see men as a growth market and there is less stigma attached to all sorts of “image-enhancing” procedures than there used to be. Thank your kids for those interesting hair colors and all those tattoos. Thank the “real housewives” series and “Nip, Tuck” for bringing cosmetic surgery into your living room (or wherever you watch TV these days).

    But let’s remember that men have always found ways to enhance their appearance. Forty-plus years ago I worked at a company owned by a man who always wore a girdle when he was in public. We were cautioned never to speak of it and we never did, publically at least. Jesse’s made the point about hair implants, but before that there was hair coloring for men.

    I think men and women both do these image-enhancing things to appear younger. That’s just the way it is, and you’re right, 60 may be the new 40, especially if we’re all headed for the century mark.

  13. Hi Wally – thanks for your comment and congratulations for being the 3rd winner of Jesse’s kind offer!

    I agree availability and the loss of stigma attached to these procedures and products are all part of the new trend. It will be interesting to see what the developments will be over the next few years.

  14. Interesting article and timely as I have just made contact with an old coaching client who is now based in Dubai who underwent a couple of proceudres about 3 years ago – from memory lipo around the midriff, but rather than having moobs removed there is a procure to implant into the pecs that he had done. This chap is currently mid 40s, so was maybe 40 at the time it was done.

    His point was that it seems perfectly fair for people to alter their appearance other ways, (teeth whitening, suits, aftershave/perfume, accessories they carry – his big thing was watches), so why not do this as well? He’d put a lot of weight on after tragic the death of his wife so this gave him the kick he needed to regain some confidence.

    I could see his point, but having spent most of my career being told I need to be older than I am for the next posiiton, (though suddenly thats not an issue any more),

    • Hi Simon – thanks for your sage comment. Yes I think it is about confidence and as you rightly say altering our basic physiology can start early with orthodontics. The question is around the implications for this growing trend.

      Hope you’re enjoying Dubai!

  15. Dorothy,
    Just saw this. From my view confidence can not be purchased or outsourced to a surgeon. Just as women with breast augmentation don’t fool anyone neither do men who undergo the various nip/tucks.I do however understand the thinking that drives men to the knife. Study after study confirms that physical attributes unfortunately do matter.The CEO population is taller than average, attractive sales people generally have better results, experiments with women needing roadside assistance show that in otherwise identical circumstances attractive women are more likely to have someone stop to offer help etc. A more permanent solution often involves longer term lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. Unfortunately in a world of uber competition, multitasking, 24/7 global communication and an “I need it now” mentality, surgery provides the false hope for a quick fix. Finally I suspect the predominately female responses reflects posts predominately aimed at women

    Scott

    • Hi Scott – thanks for your comment. Agreed on all of the above. Comments were gender balanced I think. I think the men are saying that confidence does come from surgery. Hope all is well!

  16. I suppose it was only a matter of time, but I find this as sad for men as I do for women, particularly as men have an easier time, generally, with issues of muscle tone. And let’s face it, they don’t go through the body-bending dramas of childbirth that women do, making toning afterwards far more difficult.

    I still find it dreadful that we’re not more focused on competence, experience, accomplishments. What we all bring to the table, rather than how we long sitting around it.

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