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Changing Manscape

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My guy's not really the spa type. I just can't see him getting excited about a "Pumpkin Peel" or a "Contouring Body Wrap," but treatments like these available specifically for men at Vancouver's Absolute Spas are becoming more and more popular.

The sexy Burt Reynolds chest rug of the '70s is long gone. With the rise of the metrosexual in the '90s and the more recent trend of "manscaping," it seems men are getting massaged, waxed and polished, well frankly, like a bunch of girls.

Men now make up nearly a third of all spa-goers, according to the International Spa Association, which oddly seems to only carry stats on U.S. spas. The Canadian Spa Association didn't have stats, but one can assume more and more Canadian guys are also getting massaged, waxed and polished.

Personally, I'm quietly impressed by a guy who's confident enough in his masculinity to have his dry skin buffed by microbeads of volcanic pumice as they do in the Defense Zone Facial for Men at The Camelback Inn in Arizona. And frankly, women have long known that you have to be tough as well-manicured nails to endure a genital waxing.

While there seems to be some concern that all this primping and pampering is threatening more traditional notions of masculinity -- real men are hairy, smell like horses, and don't fuss over their looks -- I think it's about time. Given the work women have been putting into their appearances for ages, it only seems fair that guys at least worry a little bit about, oh, I don't know, their back hair.

Still, there's a fine line, it seems, between maintenance and high-maintenance when it comes to male grooming. As my cousin's daughter, Angela Vogels, put it: "It's nice if men put some effort into their appearance, but high maintenance men are a turn-off. I like to be the prettiest one in the relationship."

That fine line is emphasized by the fact that most spas clearly try to make the experience as "ungirly" as possible with manly sounding packaging like the Tough Guys spa package at Ocean Key Resort & Spa in Key West, Florida, or the The Gentlemen's Urban Defense Facial at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago. The Men's Zone Spa at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas features a big screen TV so guys can get pampered while watching the game. They can even bet while they get buffed.

The insane popularity of that immensely popular and brilliant "The Man You Man Could Smell Like" Old Spice campaign last year (if you were living under a rock, check it out) is the perfect example of this new masculinity. Today's man is manly enough to ride a horse backwards or sail a yacht, but sensitive enough to buy us diamonds and offer us two tickets to that thing you love.

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