[FOUNTAIN]Superego vs. superhold gelThe self-love and self-absorption of narcissism originates from a mirror. In Greek mythology, a boy named Narcissus was entranced by the reflection of himself on water and drowned. To Narcissus, the lake was a mirror. A six to eighteen-month-old baby is very excited to see its reflection in the mirror. A baby fascinated and captivated by it’s own image exhibits a primitive form of narcissism. French philosopher Jacque Lacan (1901-1981) called this period “the mirror phase.”
Everyone is a narcissist to some degree. It is a kind of narcissism to be attracted by your own reflection as you pose in front of a mirror. Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) defined that narcissism as considering your own physical, emotional and mental features to be objects of the libido or interest. He classified narcissistic love into four types: love of your present self, of yourself in the past, of yourself in the future or of someone who used to be part of you once.
The Jan. 13 issue of the JoongAng Daily reported that men are increasingly looking in the mirror. We often hear newly-coined terms such as metrosexual, ubersexual and cross-sexual. While they refer to different types of men, they all refer to men obsessed with fashion and appearance. They spend time and money on manicures, grooming their eyebrows, putting on color makeup and styling their hair, even going under the knife to have cosmetic surgery.
According to Freud’s classification, they are the narcissists in love with themselves in the future. They dream of the models on men’s magazines and adorn themselves to become pretty boys. When narcissism becomes too serious, it could develop into a mental disorder, even schizophrenia or paranoia.
British journalist and cultural critic Mark Simpson saw through the superficial commercialism in the phenomenon. In 1994, he published an article titled “Here Come the Mirror Men” in the British daily The Independent. The men’s style press “filled their magazines with images of narcissistic young men sporting fashionable clothes and accessories. And they persuaded other young men to study them with a mixture of envy and desire.” The narcissism oppressed by the concept of masculinity, combined with commercialism, created a new ideal for men, he argued.
The identity of men changes with time. The macho man, championing male chauvinism based on a strong image and muscular body, has long been out of fashion. The gentle, sophisticated and delicate men have become the most desirable. I wonder what kind of social and cultural changes the men with makeup will bring.
by Ko Dae-hoon
The writer is a deputy city news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.