Is Love Island a nadir for modern masculinity, or the beginning of a super-advanced next phase, wonder Matt Farquharson and Anna Whitehouse?
In this week’s #TrueRomance column, Anna Whitehouse and her husband Matt Farquharson are getting side-tracked with the life-sized Action Men peacocking their way across our screens on Love Island, to ask, what does it all mean for the mere mortal men?
By Matt Farquharson
I haven’t been to a gym since 2006, when I was last single. Fearing a lifetime of female rejection, and concerned about my addictions to Playstation, Quavers and continental lager, I went every lunchtime to run, grunt and sculpt my physique from ‘30-year-old professional snooker player’ to ‘25-year old professional golfer’. Three weeks after my relationship with Anna began, my visits dropped to nought. My physique has since settled at ‘41-year-old semi-professional lawn bowls enthusiast’.
But I have recently found myself quietly fascinated by the bald and shapely pecs of the men of Love Island, and wondered if I must make more effort. Their physiques are a marvel: like life-sized Action Man figurines but dipped in Ronseal and finished off with symmetrical facial hair applied with a marker pen and protractor. And the show’s greatest impact may be on the world of cosmetic dentistry. Each set of nashers looks like a vicar’s collar. Or like there’s a daily routine that involves brushing, flossing, and a fresh application of Tipp-Ex.
So I’ve come to wonder if these men are the future: if they are what all men will look like in 20 years, or if they’re simply outliers – so ego-beaten by billboards of well-toned men in their pants that their self-worth is dependent on the plumb-line-perfection of their ‘happy trail’ (the thin line of body hair running from belly to junk).
‘If I was suddenly single, would my doughy countenance and body fluff mark me as a ‘swipe-left’ for all time?’
I am at once admiring of the effort they’re putting in and also appalled at just how much effort they’re putting in. Is this how men should be now? If I found myself suddenly and surprisingly single, would my doughy countenance and free-form body fluff mark me as a ‘swipe-left’ for all time?
It’s been said that my mini-generation – born between the late 70s and mid 80s – may be the most useless yet. We are the first generation that doesn’t know how to fix anything mechanical, and the last generation that doesn’t know how to code anything at all. But we may also be the last to resist manscaping and pectoral implants and I, for one, support the cause.
By Anna Whitehouse
It was a rogue nasal hair that nearly stopped Matt and I sealing the deal. It was our third date and I felt very strongly that he was the answer to many matters of the heart. Then I snogged him and felt that wayward follicle brush my upper lip and went cold and wanted him to leave.
Fast-forward 12 years, two kids, a mortgage and a Nasal Strimmer 2000 and we are golden. I decided that I was, perhaps, being a little rash in that moment and it was nothing a little coiffing couldn’t fix. To be fair to the man, I drunkenly shaved my upper arm in 2001 and to this day it feels like an old kitchen broom when you brush against me. So we are, in many ways, folically quits.
But what’s a little hair among friends? A huge, stubbly issue if you look to Love Island for an insight into male pruning. How anyone breathes without fear of a bald ball sack escaping its Lyrca lodgings is a question at the forefront of my mind. The smiles alone are blinding and representative of significant dental investment.
‘Where are the guys who consider pork scratchings one of your five a day?’
Where are the guys who consider pork scratchings one of your five a day? I can’t remember any ‘blokes’ (a term that’s edging out of the courting dictionary) from my youth being concerned with ripped chassis or immaculately tweezered eyebrows. More than anything, I want the Love Island men to all swim in the pool, eat ice creams, play ping-pong and ease up on the preening and carefully posed reclining.
While I have all the time in the world for a programme centred predominantly on pristine bikini lines and even spray tans, it can’t come at the cost of, well, fun. As I found, a little erroneous hair can, in fact, go a long way.
Anna Whitehouse and Matt Farquharson are the authors of Sunday Times bestseller Parenting the Shit out of Life, published by Hodder & Stoughton