The spirit of the 21st century is very well illustrated by the show Boyflowers, which first aired in Japan in 2039 and was gradually franchised around the world, becoming very popular in the UK around 2042.
The premise of Boyflowers was that girls would contact the show to complain about boyfriends who were still traditional — they wore trousers all the time, wouldn’t wear makeup, talked back to their girlfriend, etc. The show’s producers took these recalcitrant males and taught them how to be masculine in the modern sense: they were coached in applying makeup, how to shave off body hair and put on tights and dresses, and also how to behave in a coquettish way that would please girls. The last stage was to drum into them that their girlfriend was in charge and always knew best.
The climax of the show was when the boy was revealed in his new clothes, embarrassed but desperate to please, first to a studio audience and then to his girlfriend, who has to give her approval. Once her pretty boy has curtsied nicely, said how much he likes his new look, and acknowledged to the world and to himself that she is the boss, no girl has yet expressed disappointment.
Here are some typical transformations from the show:
The deal, of course, was not that the boy should endure one television programme and return to his old ways. A special slot of the show was dedicated to revisiting boys who had appeared in the past to see if they were growing their hair long, still wearing dresses, still smiling sweetly, and still doing as they were told. The success rate was very high, and not because it was set up for the cameras. There is no doubt that most of the boys were very happy in their new persona.
The public was charmed by this programme, which seemed to offer a solution to the social problem of rather grumpy and resentful ‘trad boys’ by pushing them into a new and enchanting identity. It proved to a still occasionally sceptical public that boys could look attractive in (what used to be) girls’ clothes, and pressure for boys to wear dresses and follow this stereotype became even more vigorous. Every mother wanted her son, and every girl her boyfriend, to resemble one of the adorable ‘boyflowers’.
Along with a wave of other such shows, books, magazines and so on, Boyflowers helped to redefine how boys were expected to dress and behave in a world run by women.