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Buff up by ball boys hits pockets

JO MOIR AND JESSICA RAPANA
Last updated 05:00 12/07/2014

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Teenage boys are increasingly concerned about their appearance and it's hitting their parents hard in the pocket as the school ball season rolls around.

Although school balls have traditionally been all about the girls' dresses, hair and makeup, boys are now being influenced by prominent metrosexuals such as All Blacks Dan Carter and Sonny Bill Williams - and with good looks comes expense.

An in-depth look inside the modern school ball was conducted by Otago University doctorate student Lee Smith, who studied three anonymous secondary schools to investigate social behaviours at the school formal.

Smith found that while young men appeared to invest only in a tux on the night, they were concerned about their image and wanted to look good.

"They wanted to stand out and make an impression as much as the girls did."

Teenage boys down south are not immune to hair-styling, brow-shaping and facials up to six weeks before for school balls.

"We are definitely getting a fair few coming in and getting dolled up. The girls get to do it, so why shouldn't they?" said Rebecca Smith, a senior stylist at Christchurch's Mankind Barbers.

Man Up Hair and Body owner Julie Depree said her studio had an influx of young males leading up to school balls.

Most came in for hair-styling, but some wanted eyebrow shaping and facials.

They might have two facials in the month leading up to the ball, she said.

"They're definitely following the fashion at the moment, especially the hair style ‘pompadour'. It's shorter at the sides and longer at the top."

The number of males coming in before school balls had increased annually, and Depree said she had noticed even more this year.

Tawa College held its school ball last month and the family of 16-year-old Lewis Brown put in a lot of work leading up to his first formal.

His mum organised his suit and all the trimmings down to the cufflinks, which would have been at least $100, and his sister helped him styling his hair.

Although he did buy his partner a corsage he opted against hiring a car or limo and ended up getting the bus to the occasion.

Boys' hair was one of the few ways they could be a bit different when in a suit or uniform. "I usually check my hair and make sure it looks good before going to school."

The metrosexual modern guy fronting advertising had definitely had an effect on boys' decisions around appearance, he said.

At least one boy at the ball had spent about $1000 on the night, and some students keen to stand out wore coloured suits.

Smith said the "hard rugby-playing man" mentality had been replaced with images of Carter and Williams, advertising hair products and modelling underwear.

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Although boys were now concerned about their appearance, girls were still likely to spend the most, Wellington hair and make-up artist Miranda Millen said the style in girls' fashion was a complete turnaround from the glam and big Kardashian look last year.

"Last year there were lots of braids and hair-ups but this year I've done lots of loose curls either worn down or simply pinned to the side."

- The Press

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