Mind your language

The rise of the man bun, the Mancan and man boobs

28 November 2015

9:00 AM

28 November 2015

9:00 AM

‘Ha, ha, ha,’ said my husband, as though he had learnt to laugh by reading Twitter. ‘Now they’ve got falsies.’

He was waving an article about clip-on man buns. A man bun is that top-knot that some young men began to sport, in proof that there is nothing too absurd for fashion. Now, it seems, false ones are on sale. The colours specified are black, brown and blond, which hardly promises a convincing match.

This development reminds me of the chignon, a hump of hair worn over a pad, fashionable at a century’s interval in the 1770s and 1870s. Trollope quickly took against it. In He Knew He Was Right (1869), he wrote of Miss Stanbury, one of those no-nonsense women he enjoyed creating: ‘A chignon, a bandbox behind the noddle, she would not endure.’ The expectation was that the chignon would be of false hair.


Just at the moment, in the gender-role wars, man is attached to more and more things. Surprisingly long ago, certainly by the middle of the 18th century, manhood made its journey downmarket from the meaning ‘condition of being a man’ to ‘penis’. Now, I think, ​the latter usage suggests the world of cheap bodice-rippers.

In our times, man-bag was seen in 1968 (in Ohio) as ‘a natural progression’ from turtle-necks. The 21st-century mankini was made unpleasantly memorable by Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat, but even his mockery seems not to have achieved its utter extinction.

On the subject of man breasts, the Oxford English Dictionary grows quite chatty. They are ‘unusually prominent breasts on a man’, it observes, ‘typically consisting of pectoral fat but sometimes caused by hormonal factors’. Its first citation is from 1993, but a source a couple of years earlier is available for man boobs.

Last week I spied a brand of wine called Mancan, sold in a can. Like the limited colours of man-buns, this is available is red, white or fizzy. ‘Crush one at the game, throw one in your back pocket on a camping trip, or pop one open at your favourite dive bar,’ it suggests in defiance of British habits. It seems to be directed at men who think wine sissy, which has never been one of my husband’s many vices.

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Show comments
  • Miss Floribunda Rose

    A man can only be considered attractive if his neck is thicker than his head.

    • Sabretruthtiger

      No, just not a weak, effeminate, pretentious, irrational, closet racist, meglomaniacal, anti-science, liberal douche with a pencil-neck and a man-bun.

      • Miss Floribunda Rose

        Too true! Have you noticed them too? They’re all over the place nowadays……Personally, I find them rather frightening, I must admit.

  • joeblow55

    Beards, manbuns, all laughable attempts by the human male to attract females. It is all biology at the end of the day. Male differentiation to a perceived threat of women in the workplace. To look different from other males to snag the desirable female.

    • Steven Swenson

      Technically… shaving would be the ridiculous attempt to attract women since having a beard is the default condition for normal males of most ethnicities.

      • In that, Nature truly erred. I don’t know what beards are meant to do but in general, I’ve never really liked them, myself. And the furrier and longer they are, the more repulsive I find them.

        • Steven Swenson

          I recently grew one , since I never had one before. I think it acts a bit like a scarf. They do need managing. It is easy to have it look unkempt and wild quickly.

          • Well, just look at Jeremy Corbyn: it’s enough to put anyone off!

      • Ian Walker
        • Steven Swenson

          I meant its the genetic default and is a sexually dimorphic trait in most ethnicities. So There was enough genetic historical preference for the beard that it is the default. A man has to use a tool to change that.

  • Ted Larson

    Further proof that men are being neutered by feminists.

    • Eh! We don’t want moobs on men. On the other hand, a ‘ripped’ hard body doesn’t do it for me, either. A man with a layer of fat is cuddly and invites squeezing. But it’s so difficult to get the right balance.

      • Ian Walker

        What about his personaility? Or should he save that for his silly lunches with the ‘pals’ that you approve of? 🙂

        • Just talking theoretically, Ian. In my experience of life, anyone with a really good mind and a lovely character is unlikely to be very handsome, never mind a hunk. I went for Minds & Souls early on, and paid the price.

  • FrankS2

    “Man boobs”? The word surely is “moobs” – which, verbally at least, is much neater.

  • jim

    Anything to make men appear ridiculous …..Definitely an “end of times” vibe about the west. As a civilization becomes more sophisticated it also becomes weaker. A more primitive, atavistic, cruel culture can retain it’s vitality. Barbarous Islam is on the march,it’s numbers swelling,taking over our cities.Our more advanced west is kinder and gentler ,cooing over trannies and gays,indulging female emotionalism so no surprise that we are in retreat, handing over our homelands and happy to do so,unable to reproduce in sufficient numbers…Savages have a survival instinct. Effete sophisticates aren’t going to put up much of a fight.

  • Frank Marker

    It reminds of those ludicrous fops called Macaronis who were satirized by 18th Century caricaturists.

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