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Manning Up

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The naked truth about what a woman wants / By Michelle Valles / Photo by Rudy Arocha

What do women really want in a man? You can pretty much find out just by asking about her male role models. For instance, my dad is a true old-school gentleman, tall, strong and handsome. While he wasn’t rich, I never knew it. Growing up, he always carried cash, preferred quality products versus a bargain and was never cheap. If I invited my girlfriend somewhere, he taught me it was my responsibility to pay for her because that’s the proper thing to do when you invite someone. He carried a handkerchief in his back pocket, even if he was wearing his work clothes. He met my mom for lunch when he could, and every night he’d help in the kitchen and sometimes they’d talk for hours about their day.

The man had style too. He didn’t walk; he strolled. He was always put together. In his eyes, no selfrespecting vato would dare wear shorts in public unless he was going swimming. He’s not stubborn. He’s steadfast. He has gone to the same barber for decades, prefers a light aftershave and won’t use shampoo to wash his hair. Soap and water is all Dad needs. A total manly man in my eyes. You can tell I admire my dad. I am not alone. Most women will be attracted to traits they love in their dad.

For better or worse, times, styles and trends have changed. First off, let me start by saying I don’t find anything sexually attractive about the metrosexual. The spring chickies in their early 20s probably disagree with me on this one. Ay pobrecita, mijas. Don’t worry; they’ll grow up one day.

After conducting an unscientific poll in South and Central Austin gyms, bars and bathrooms stalls (basically I just asked all my hot girlfriends ages 25 to 60 what they want in a man), the general consensus was (drumroll please…): Women want a manly man!

Turns out, not much has changed after all.

“I want a real man,” my friend April says. “And by manly, I don’t mean some hairy beast that drinks beer all night long and burps in my face.”

Yes, uncivilized beasts do not attract April or most ladies I know who have some standards.

So what is a manly man? OK, let’s start with men and skinny jeans. We can barely get in them, and seeing some guy who has a smaller butt than ours is not a turn on. He would probably be better off if we set him up with our good friend Rafael. There are some exceptions to the skinny jean rule: If you’re a sexy European man, or a musician and actually skinny, go for it. A major exception: It works if you look like Colin Farrell, Bradley Cooper or Ryan Reynolds.

While nothing is sexier than a man who knows who he is and what he wants, he must keep his paws off our magic creams. Use your own and yes, we know you’ve got some. That’s semi OK with some women, as long as you don’t use more facial products than we do. I don’t care if you’re an “actor.” I find a few wrinkles around the eye to be very attractive. And don’t even think about Botox. You shouldn’t even know what that is. You should think Forest Gump is describing an ass when you hear that word.

Surprisingly, I did find that a lot of today’s women have no problem with their men wanting a manicure or pedicure. I agree. You better handle that hammertoe! I guess a little metro is better than gross toe nails.

I don’t know if I’ve lived in Austin way too long, but it seems like the ’70s are coming back, and I personally find that to be totally groovy. The women I polled really dig it too. The longer, unkempt haircuts, trimmed beards and, ahem, more natural way of being. Yes, I’m talking about what goes on below the equator. Trimming your body hair or the “Don King,” as my sister likes to call it, seems to be a controversial topic. I found no consensus with the women I polled. Totally different strokes for different folks, if you get me. I say leave the trimming up to her. However, the only reason any heterosexual man should ever be shaving his legs, chests or armpits is if he’s an Olympic swimmer. Oh, and as far as your eyebrows are concerned, yeah, it’s cool to clean them up a bit, especially if you have a unibrow. But if you’re thinking of waxing them, um, OK, again, I think you’d really be interested in meeting Rafael.

While we are on to the naked truth, I have better things to think about than the boxers versus briefs debate, but I do want to say, as far as your undergarments are concerned, have a strict no thong policy. I experienced a man-thong incident in my 20s and it’s taken years of therapy to get past it. I struggle today with that vision.

Men, if she tries to get you to play dress up in her clothes, don’t do it. I’ll always remember what my older brother told me: “Sister, remember to always let a man feel like a man.” Sure thing, bro, as long as they don’t compete with me being a woman! Can I get an amen?

One more thing: If you’re obsessed with big muscles, tanning salons, slathering yourself in cologne and love wearing tight Ed Hardy shirts, just move to Jersey. I don’t want to see you around these parts.

Here’s the deal: I love real men. Honest, sincere, funny and direct. Be yourself, spend time pursuing your passion and support me in my pursuits. I don’t want to compete with you in the cosmetics section, mix up our jeans in the laundry or find you using my tweezers. I want to be embraced in your arms and hear about your day. Most importantly, ask me about mine when you are helping in the kitchen.

Here are my rules written in guy terms:

Skinny jeans: If you’re not skinny, your jeans shouldn’t be.
Veneers: They better not look like chiclets you got in Mexico, and it helps if you’re an actor or a newsman.
Haircut: Don Draper Yes; Jim Morisson Yes.
Using lip balm: Yes, but if you bought it at Sephora, it’s probably not balm.
Pedicure/manicure: Totally appropriate and actually sexy in some cases.
Body hair: Wolverine: Yes Silver Surfer No.
Scarf/cufflinks: Sexy and sophisticated!
Bright colored shirts: Yes! But wear them with confidence.
Skincare/procedures: Willie Yes; Bruce Jenner No.



  1. Dear Michelle:

    You might enjoy a book by a friend of mine, Sam Martin. He wrote, “How to Mow the Lawn.” It’s part of “The Lost Art of Being a Man” series. Essentially it’s what men and young men have lost sight of, their place in society and what it means to be a man. It contains some of the timeless sensibility that has just lost its way to men.

    I enjoyed your article, and I think you are spot on.

    Warm regards,
    Richard N

  2. Michelle Valles on

    Hey thanks gentlemen! I appreciate the kind words. And I will look out for that book Richard. Thanks for “manning up” guys! ha.

  3. Great job, Michelle! Love that my super-sophisticated quote made it in the piece! Manly, yes. Uncivilized, no! A manly gentleman. And if you are prettier than me, forget it! I will miss you dearly!

  4. Really good article!!! Proven fact. Met the woman of my dreams after reverting back to my Tejano roots look. The ex slowly converted me to the “metrosexual” look over 8yrs, but I guess that’s why she’s the ex!

  5. Sounds good to me. Intelligence is a turn on for sure, as are good manners, and interest in the other person. Keeping fit and well dressed are important no matter the age. And kindness goes a long way.

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