July 24, 2019
Appearance counts in business and in life. Forget about fairness, we make judgments about people the minute we lay eyes on them. The slogan “you only get one chance to make a first impression” is anchored in reality. Yes, appearance has psychological power. The literature is full of studies about self-esteem, body image and social response to appearance, but what about the power of appearance within ourselves? Can looking good make us feel good, and, in-turn, create the motivation to sustain a healthy lifestyle that contributes to one’s appearance? Among maturing men, and men of all ages, looking for inspiration wherever they can find it, attending to one’s appearance is a worthy strategy.
As a self-proclaimed ninja warrior in the fight against aging, I employ numerous tactics to maximize my appearance and stave off the signs of my years. My efforts have been validated on enough occasions to convince me that this stuff is real: perhaps the most notable being in Minneapolis while I was attending the Eagles Super Bowl. There, a bartender asked if my 13-years-younger brother and I were twins. Yes! Well, he got a nice tip, but more important is that I have this go-to story whenever I need a little inspiration to keep up my workout regimen.
For me, my appearance makes a statement about who I am, my professionalism and attention to detail. Factors that help me stay competitive in the business environment, but more importantly, motivate me to stick with a healthy lifestyle. My wife seems to approve as well.
As men age, not only do we neglect our health, but any interest in looking good also seems to go out the window. It’s a spiral that’s not good physically or emotionally. It's time men rejected the notion that maturity means that our appearance is no longer relevant. In fact, I’d argue that it's more relevant than ever given the connection between looking good, feeling good and motivation for healthy living.
OK, so here are my 7 basics of personal grooming that can help you take your game to a new level:
Whether your follicly-challenged or have a head of flowing locks, get a decent cut and do so on a regular basis. When you’re overdue for a cut or a scalp shave it shows. Also, make sure your cut is reasonably contemporary. Lose the throwbacks to the '80s, '90s and beyond.
Today, there are a number of products that make it relatively easy to color your whole head or just touch-up your sideburns. This is an individual call, but losing the gray can take years off your look. The key: it’s got to look natural.
Facial hair is a very common look today and, done well, can add to a man’s appearance, so long as your showing your natural color or salt and pepper. For the 50-plus man, unless you color and its looks very natural, gray screams “old.” When we’re young, men grow facial hair to look more mature. When we reach middle age, it's time to lose the facial hair and look younger.
Mature men are notorious for excessive hair in the ears and noses. Guys, there are plenty of trimmers these days that can keep you from looking like your dad. Use them. For the more adventurous, you can push the envelope for a chest and back wax, particularly during the summer months. Now I’m not talking about a frequent visit to the local center, but maybe once a quarter so you don’t display that grizzly bear look. It's more prevalent among guys these days than you think.
No, I’m not suggesting that you need to accompany your wife or girlfriend to the local nail salon. But avoid the look of a construction worker just off the job. Keep them clean and clipped. If you want to go further, brother, go for it!
Whether you’re in shape or still working to get to your ideal weight, clothes that fit can make a world of difference in your appearance. And, if you are in shape, all the more reason to accentuate the positive results.
Not only do you want clothes that fit, but it would be nice if they had at least some semblance of style. So, whether you’re buying a suit or a casual outfit, ask for help in the store (admittedly sometimes a stretch in some venues), commandeer your spouse or just stick to some basics. Bottom line, there’s a sweet spot that says’ I’ve given this some thought, or at least have had the good sense to get some advice.
There are certainly more extensive steps like plastic surgery. Bottom line, if you’re putting in the time to eat healthy and exercise, or looking to find a little push to get you started, these grooming musts are an essential part of the package. You’ll look better, feel better and, most importantly, be inspired by the feedback to keep up the healthy lifestyle.
Louis Bezich, senior vice president of strategic alliances at Cooper University Health Care, is author of "Crack The Code: 10 Proven Secrets that Motivate Healthy Behavior and Inspire Fulfillment in Men Over 50."