"It would turn me into a monster - inside, not out"
I know what you're thinking. Are you sure buddy? Are you sure you're taking the 'no nose job for me' side of this particular debate? (Actually, you're probably thinking: 'when did you star in a local amateur dramatics society production of Lord Of The Flies?', but we'll move on).
In truth that headshot is five years old, and took about thirty attempts. So rest assured when I say I wouldn't consider plastic surgery, I say it as a man who knows he is not exactly drowning in 'Super Likes' on Tinder.
Nor, I should add, do I think other men should refrain from going under the knife. Anything that gives a guy a spring in his step – or a slither of arse cheek on his forehead, for that matter – is fine by me.
Rather, the aversion I feel to plastic surgery is a combination of personal squeamishness – just reading the words 'blepharoplasty', 'surplus skin' and 'protruding fat' is enough to make me dry-heave – and a private conviction there is a symbiosis and syncrasy between one's looks and personality it would be dangerous to disrupt.
I believe – somewhat vaguely I'll admit – that whatever modicum of charm, empathy or humour I have developed in life is largely a result of living with the looks nature tossed my way. (Broadly speaking, gorgeous people tend to be a little dull or total arseholes while the most entertaining individuals you meet are somewhere on the spectrum of average to not very good looking at all. There are exceptions, of course, but they're all movie stars.)
Say plastic surgery could make me look as good as Jake Gyllenhal or Tom Hardy or any of my other man crushes. And say I could afford the millions it would require to make it happen. Who, when the bandages come off, would I be? Who would I become?
There is a wonderful novella better known in America than in Britain called Flowers For Algernon. In it, a simple-minded but kind hearted floor sweeper called Charlie undergoes an experiment that dramatically increases his IQ. Charlie gains the power of knowledge but at the price of his good nature. Being a genius makes him arrogant, short-tempered and, all in all, a bit of a twat. The lesson is clear.
But even outside the fantasy world of suddenly acquiring A-lister looks, the procedures men are undergoing in record numbers – eyelid reductions and liposuction and 'moobs' removals – seem to me to be the perfect excuse to give up exercise, get drunk every night and generally adopt the diet of Henry VIII. Why would I look after my body if I can pay someone else to do it for me?
My fear, in summation, is that cosmetic surgery would turn me into a monster: inside, not out. Good luck to the open-minded, self-actualising men of 2016, but you can keep that scalpel away from me thanks. Having said that, you might want to check back in ten years. You know, just to be sure.
"I know what it's like to be perfect and I want to feel that again."
Could you picture yourself going under the knife? I do it all the time. There I am, looking up at the blade and the surgeon, light glinting off the chiselled edges of both, ready to make me perfect. The reason I do this is because I know what it's like to be perfect and I want to feel that again.
Now aged somewhere between 39 and 41, I eat well, drink less and walk more to get my 10,000 steps a day seven days a week (thanks Health app), but I still thicken out in the chestal and waistal areas. Always have, always will. But that year when I was in the gym three days a week. That other year when it was four? Eating clean, drinking rarely only clear booze and boring everyone with "honestly – the feeling of well-being you get is amazing"?
Well, honestly, the feeling of well-being you get from being 20 pounds lighter is amazing. And if I can get that just by going to hospital and having medical people do stuff on me, then I shall go to hospital and have medical people do stuff on me. The appendectomy, the broken wrist, watching two astonishingly skilled and professional women midwifing my daughter into being. They all went like clockwork.
"Ah," say the anti-surgery brigade, "but you didn't choose to have those, did you?" Well, sirs, I did. If I hadn't chosen to go to A&E after rolling on the sofa for two hours and moaning, my burst appendix would have killed me. My wrist would dangle at a funny angle and I'm not one of those men looking to deliver his child en route to the maternity ward. I see my choice to be nipped and tucked in the same way: I'm simply better off.
"So," the brigade retort, "what's stopping you?" Money.
"I like the idea of ageing gracefully."
As a 28-year-old man working in easily the most looks-obsessed facet of the media, I think about my appearance quite a lot. I visit my hairdresser Carmelo every three weeks; I have a personal trainer called Harry who I visit twice a week, where possible; and I'm in possession of a wardrobe which would intimidate Imelda Marcos.
In terms of my face, though, I'm at an age that means I don't really need to worry about it too much just yet (which, of course, doesn't mean I don't). As the man in charge of Esquire's grooming pages I have the span of Esquire's product cupboard(s) at my well-manicured fingertips. Each and every night I apply a layer of Tom Ford's serum for men followed by a slick of La Prairie's Skin Caviar in the belief that my lazy regime will work as well for me as an oil painting once did for Dorian Grey.
The reality is though, that when the signs of ageing do start to appear, I know that I won't be as laid back about the whole thing as I am now.
A close friend, 32, has already started having 'preventative' botox injections around his eye area in a bid to stave off early-onset wrinkles, and though I scoff at him, I'm not stupid enough to suggest that I won't think about doing something similar at some point in the future.
In the past I've been very careful to place my feet firmly in the 'never say never' camp when asked about plastic surgery, more as a 'preventative' measure, should I ever do decide to take the plunge. The reality is though, that I like my face. And, probably naively, I like the idea of ageing gracefully (something which, as a man, I'm allowed and encouraged to do – though that's another argument).
So, although I like the option of surgery to be present – like a scalpel-shaped safety net – I hope I'll never need to take the fall. But hey, never say never!
"Before you know it, David Gandy will be staring back at you in the mirror."
The reason I can't imagine ever having plastic surgery willingly comes down to one word – trust. Basically, I could never trust a surgeon enough to mess around with the thing that is our unique, visual representation in this world – our face.
After all, there's not a lot of evidence that these guys know what they're doing yet. If all the best plastic surgeons are in Hollywood where the demand is, why do so many 'clients' resemble bad waxworks with twisted grimaces, frozen expressions and pouty features? Even the 'subtle' tucks and lifts can be spotted a mile away. And who wants to be the guy that gets people whispering "has he had work done?" when he leaves the room.
It's probably a slippery slope too. You could start small, but like an expensive packet of Pringles, you'll probably begin to think you need another little one to balance things out, and then another.
And before you know it, you'll look in the mirror and David Gest will be staring back at you. Except you won't realise because by then your body dysmorphia will be so acute that you'll probably think you've never looked better. Even though dogs and small children start hiding under tables when you walk in.
Maybe in the future, it'll be as routine as going to the dentist but for now, it's just too weird and obvious. Not much better than wearing a wig. And for a man, the only thing worst than being ugly or wrinkly is being so narcisistic and vain that you are willing to pay thousands to do something about it.