Well, I guess because that’s how they make money.
I got a manicure yesterday, to treat myself after a particularly stressful month of writing. In the space of 20 minutes, the manicurist told me cheerfully that I ought to get my eyebrows waxed and also a Brazillian if I wanted to “keep my man happy”.
The conversation went a little like this…
Manicurist: Do you wax your eyebrows?
Manicurist: Why not?
Me: Because I don’t think I need to. My eyebrows are naturally quite thin.
Manicurist: Oh, but you do! *points to perceived problem areas on my eyebrows* I’ll show you in the mirror later, if you like.
She told me men got bored easily and you needed to change your look on a regular basis if you wanted to keep them interested. It might not seem as if they’d notice if she plucked the two hairs no one who wasn’t scrutinising my face for potential “flaws” would know were even there, but they would feel quietly prouder to have you on their arm, with all their friends admiring you.
Her husband was proud of her now, but who knows? Maybe in the future he’d find someone more attractive, and she stood to lose a lot more from the relationship failing than he did. If you didn’t look “fresh” one day, they might not say anything, but they’d notice and they wouldn’t forget.
I told her that as someone who wrote for women’s magazines, I’d thought a lot about these things (no joke! that’s actually what I said!), and while I agreed relationships often turned bad, I thought that it was more often because of a negative change in dynamic between the people involved, and that infidelity generally happened when they stopped investing themselves in the relationship and found someone who made them feel better - not when they found someone who looked better (because let’s face it, unless you’re Scarlett Johansson or Chace Crawford, that’s going to happen sooner or later - and living in Hollywood, it’s going to happen even to them).
And while I didn’t deny that people (including men) liked to find their partners physically attractive, and maybe found some source of pride in other people thinking they were hot too - I figured that was more about things like skin, hair and body shape, rather than micro-level grooming. And frankly, given the lack of effort most guys I knew put into their appearance, I was hardly going to put in more for their benefit.
I told her all this very nicely - it wasn’t a fight. And as a number of people I read have remarked recently of themselves, I’m hardly immune to the lures of the beauty myth - as I write this, I’m straightening my hair. Thing is, I don’t think she was just trying to sell me stuff - I think she really, genuinely believed it.