Real men get their nails done


The amount of men getting manicures has increased over the last 10 years according to Phyong Le, a manicurist at Diamond Nails Inc. of Honolulu.

Anyone who has ever seen “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” knows the famous scene where Steve Carell gets his chest waxed.  The viewer can feel the pain when Carell screams out, “Kelly Clarkson!”  So, one can imagine the trepidation a man would feel walking into the salon in order to relive Carell’s ordeal.

In an attempt to explore gender roles and exactly what type of activities are considered masculine or feminine, myself and fellow staff writer Victoria Barayuga decided to swap roles for the day.  A manicure/pedicure and a waxing were on my agenda.  Barayuga played paintball and shot an assortment of guns.

Dara Chun-Woodward, an esthetician at The Waxing Co. in Honolulu, smiled warmly, introduced herself and led me into the room I would be experiencing my first chest waxing.  My mind kept playing the scene from “The 40 Year Old Virgin” over and over.  She must have seen the apprehension on my face and attempted to ensure I was comfortable.  She told me my fears were unfounded.

“’40 Year Old Virgin’ gave us a bad name,” Chun-Woodward, 30, who has been an esthetician for 12 years, said. “That brought a tear to my eye just watching it. That was like ‘no mercy.’”

With ease and precision, Chun-Woodward applied the first strip of wax on my stomach.  As I pretended to be calm, my mind was racing with thoughts of the excruciating pain about to be inflicted on me.  As an experienced esthetician, starting when she was 18, I trusted Chun-Woodward would be gentle.  But just to make sure she put a little fear into me, she chuckled and said, “Just saying…guys cry more.” Then, the first strip of hair was pulled from my stomach.  After all of the build-up, the pain didn’t materialize in close to the intensity I had expected.  The pain was minimal and quick, just like pulling a band-aid.chest

The rest of the session was spent talking about how men were becoming more apt to subject themselves to this procedure once deemed solely the property of women and male bodybuilders and swimmers.  Chun-Woodward said she would estimate 40 percent of her clients are male, and she sees at least one man a day.

The next procedure to check off the list was getting a manicure and a pedicure.  I walked in and was told to take a seat in a comfortable massage chair and place my feet in the small tub bubbling with warm water.   Phyong Le, 26, of Salt Lake, was my manicurist at Diamond Nail in Honolulu. The pedicure and manicure were relaxing, a stark contrast to the chest-waxing experience.

“Chopping off skin soothes our stress,” Le said.

It is apparent in Le’s attitude toward her clients she has little stress and makes her clients feel comfortable.  Le also gives close to the same estimate as Chun-Woodward, that her clientele consists of about 30 percent men.  She said the amount of men coming in to the salon has increased since she began nine years ago.

Stepping into another person’s shoes, if only for a few hours, is an important exercise in self-realization.  While women do not get their chests waxed, they do wax other, potentially more painful parts of their body. Most women also visit the salon to get their nails done.  It is important as a man to recognize the amount of work women put into making themselves look good.

It is also apparent that the line between what is considered masculine and feminine is continuously becoming blurred.  While I will probably never get my chest waxed again, I was made to feel very comfortable during the process. As far as my nails, I am not ashamed to admit I will be visiting Le again.