Interestingly, and few still doubt it, mainstream media is increasingly becoming more interested in our passion. Nevertheless, it mostly depicts elegance-conscious gents as exceptions or, as in a France 5 broadcast yesterday, as “men willing to accept their feminine side”. This last sentence blatantly shows how deeply some stereotypes continue to reach (i.e.: a man spends less time on his appearance than any woman would) and that representations of elegant men often remain mere caricatures.
The programme was broadcast last night, and meant to focus on health and eating habits, more specifically extreme behaviours: anorexia and bulimia.
Given the subject, I was of course not expecting the programme to use significant amounts of airtime to exploit the so-called “shock value” of a barely elegant thirty something man, almost depicted as a freak for being mindful of his figure, diet and style.
Rather classically dressed, clad in a barely acceptable ready-to-wear suit, he explained how he saw no purpose in wearing a well cut suit (obviously he was proud of his off the rack low end one) if one didn’t take care of his figure. The reporter concluded with statistics: one man out of two was reported to have said that taking care of his appearance and elegance was important to him. But of course, the reasons used to explain this confirmed trend were mostly mundane: job search, professional appeal, career move, etc…
As if men still needed to justify striving for elegance and personal excellence with almost exclusively social or professional motives.
As if we were not entitled to want to be elegant for the mere pleasure of feeling handsome, or, at the very least, at our personal best.
Even though the young man featured was nothing more than barely correctly dressed (and regarding our standards, i’m very indulgent), he was portrayed as somehow outside the norm (the standard being a man who blindly throws on the first rumpled shirt in his closet and omits to make the slightest effort to coordinate his ensembles). I don’t even want to imagine how we, readers of PG, of the Rake and of Dandy, would be featured in such mainstream television program!
There is no doubt that despite statistics, stereotypes remain deeply rooted and elegance is still viewed as a superfluous and superficial concern, ultimately reserved for the feminine realm of affairs. By the way, this stubborn stereotype also seems to remain despite professional and political parity heating debates for many years…
Such caricatures confirm that we still live in a “ready-to-think” world…
And we are Freedom Freaks, indeed.