Japan’s metrosexual revolution sees men turning to Botox, plastic surgery

From sales personnel to company leaders, men are increasingly going for surgery to look calm, confident and young.

One 52-year-old man who was vexed by the wrinkles on his forehead went to a beauty clinic in May. He decided on Botox injections.

“I didn’t hesitate,” said the man, who works in Tokyo.

The man felt he needed a certain look in his profession as a consultant, and of prime concern was the risk of looking irritated even when he was not.

“Maybe because my expression became softer, clients talk to me more and things are going better at work,” he said. “I need to be mindful of how I look now that I am getting older” so that others remain at ease.

Increasing numbers of middle-aged men are seeking plastic surgery to get rid of wrinkles or age spots as a way of succeeding at work. It is a sea change from the era when a man’s virtue was once said to be his character and not his appearance.

Another man, 51, used laser surgery to remove an age spot beneath one of his eyes.

“Because I want to switch jobs, I wanted to look young even if it’s only in appearance,” he said. He said he believed plastic surgery was no different from dieting or working out and that it would act to his advantage in interviews.

One facility offering treatment in Tokyo is Shonan Beauty Clinic. The clinic says male customers seeking plastic surgery are on the rise, with about 140,000 men paying a visit to the clinic in 2014 — up 40 percent from the year before.

It says the past few years have seen an increase in middle-aged men from sales as well as company leaders.

At TBC Group Co., which runs beauty salons, more men are asking for the removal of facial hair, the symbol of masculinity.

“The world is seeking a sense of cleanliness in people, and there are more women at work,” said a TBC Group representative. “More men may want to look pretty.”

Ask men about their hair, and certainly not all are happy.

“I’m hairy, and when I can’t shave neatly I feel depressed all day,” said one 30-year-old man who received treatment to remove his beard. “Now I have more time in the morning, and people at work tell me I have smooth skin.”

Men are also taking better care of their skin.

A survey by market research company Intage Inc. this year found that 26 percent of men aged 20 to 59 use skin lotion. The figure was 41 percent for those in their 20s, it said. The survey polled 800 individuals.

Experts gave mixed reactions to the trend.

Columnist Maki Fukasawa coined a popular term for men who might elsewhere be called metrosexual. She dubs them soshoku danshi, or herbivore men.

Fukasawa says men who seek plastic surgery to look nice are still not fully accepted in society.

“People want men to look clean-cut but they don’t want them to go too far,” she said. “Few would take it positively.”

But Yohei Harada, a researcher at Hakuhodo Brand Design’s Youth Life Lab, says the trend is likely to spread.

Harada said because there is a new sense of value, in that men no “longer have to be masculine,” life is easier for them. “This trend is likely to spread beyond generations.”

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