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Thread: Here Come the Metrosexuals

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    Cool Here Come the Metrosexuals



    Here Come the Metrosexuals

    By Genevieve Roja, AlterNet
    September 29, 2003

    My boyfriend is stylish to a fault. He knows what works for him (merino wool sweaters) and what does not. No tones of camel or toffee, please! He is familiar with my Kiehl's skincare regimen and has a penchant for the natural skincare line Zia. He washes his hair with Biolage and carefully combs conditioner through it. He won't settle for anything other than Calvin Klein when it comes to his bed sheets, and shops at the only Banana Republic outlet in California (I didn't even know one existed).

    When your man one-ups you in shopping, you know you're in trouble. Yes, I confess. I'm in love with a metrosexual. That's the term for a new generation of hip, urban men who can shotgun their beers and tell the difference between Levi's and Diesel. You can see them in your beauty salon getting their facials and pedicures. They compliment you on your shoes because they actually like your shoes. They're like my brother who says stuff like, "No carbs after 8 PM," and lets me know that tennis skirts are the latest summer rage in New York. These are straight men who appreciate the value of looking good and don't need an army of gay men to help them do it.

    What in the hell is going on? Are straight men turning gay?

    The most-commonly used label to describe this trend is "metrosexual," a term defined as straight men living in urban, metropolitan settings who are embracing their feminine sides. Once the preserve of urban twenty-something hipsters, it's a term that has gained so much mainstream cred that New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd recently decided to ask none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger if he was that kind of guy. Dowd claims her question was inspired by Arnie's appearance: "In person, he looks a little unreal, like a top-of-the-line Madame Tussaud figure: taut skin, buffed nails, designer shades." And it is a credit to our metrosexual times that the king of macho was not in the least bit insulted, but instead launched into an elaborate description of his shopping skills: "(My wife) always says, 'Why don't you go over in the men's section?' and I say: 'No, no. I want to stay here and I want to help you because you'll find something great.'"

    The heterosexual American male is without a doubt making inroads into territory that has long been the preserve of women and gay men. Conde Nast, the magazine publishing powerhouse, has now created a male version of the very popular women's consumer magazine, Lucky, called Cargo, which is reportedly set to launch in 2004. Men are no longer considered an afterthought when it comes to new grooming product lines. But, of course, to preserve the straight male ego, companies make sure they serve up the most feminine of products with a healthy dose of macho. Take, for example, the skincare lines Jack Black and Heavy Duty. Jack Black is a skincare label that dates back to the Civil War, when they provided soldiers with shaving and grooming kits. (Guess a man couldn't shoot a gun with a five o'clock shadow.) Heavy Duty packages some of its products to look like motor oil and then dresses them with a graphic of a woman jacking up her car ? and is reportedly a hit with Aerosmith lead crooner Steven Tyler.

    Axe's body deodorant is gaining a new following with its cheeky television campaign, which speaks to the age-old preoccupation of straight men with hooking up with more than one woman at the same time. In one commercial, when a man is caught staring at another woman at the bar, his girlfriend murmurs understandingly, "Beautiful isn't she?" Another features a woman asking a man, "Do you mind if my best friend joins us?" Lest we forget: Men may be getting cleaned up on the outside, but that doesn't mean the primary message about what it means to be a man has changed.

    Gay writers such as Mark Simpson also use "metrosexual" to satirize consumerism's toll on men. As Simpson wrote in a now infamous Salon article, capitalism needed a new "It" boy ? not a hetero schlep who didn't spend enough money, but "a new kind of man, one less certain of his identity and much more interested in his image." A man, Simpson writes, "who is an advertiser's walking wet dream." Traditional masculinity meant providing for the wife so she had money to burn. Today, beaten down by Madison Avenue's assault on his ego, men are being pushed to do just as much of the spending themselves. There's nothing better for the corporate bottom line than to have both husband and wife haunting the corridors of the local mall.

    The trend may be Madison Avenue's dream, but it also has to do with changing expectations of the 21st century woman. What modern-day woman doesn't appreciate a man who loves his mama, works out, makes a mean rack of lamb, has patience while shopping, can take in a play, exhibit fashion sense and trim his nose hairs? That's nearly a golden ticket to the bedroom and a lottery ticket for a promising future. Didn't everyone see what happened when Kate Hudson fell for Matthew McConaughey's metrosexual shtick in "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days?" She didn't just fall; she crashed into his arms. But at the end, Kate got the very best version of Matthew, the kind she probably envisioned falling for: a pretty boy with the most earnest heart of gold.

    It's the reason why a show like Bravo's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" is such a megahit with women. Despite their affection for ghastly color-blocked polos and polyester pants, these men let the Fab Five make them better not to get the hottie in the bar, but for the wife that wants his eyebrows waxed or the girlfriend who wants him to throw her a nice party. It's clear that these "Queer" candidates genuinely want to impress the women in their life. To do so, these men shed not only their nasty grooming habits and that dastardly pair of high-waist jeans, but also some of their manly pride. The message is not, "I love Prada," but, "I love you, honey."

    Not all women are impressed with this new-found feminine side. Salon writer Sheerly Avni wrote about an old boyfriend who made her dinner several nights a week, putting to shame her poor, if any, culinary talents. "At the time I was touched, but little did I realize that intentionally or not, he was refining and perfecting a strategy for future domination by homing in on my neglected domestic sphere." He may be the one who will want to shop till he drops, tag along with your girly gang of Sunday brunchers and book both your hair appointments. By the time he finishes reading this article, he may have already picked out your living room furniture from Pottery Barn. Most women, however, are not as worried as Avni ? perhaps because their men are so far from the metrosexual ideal, any change seems like a god-send.

    Besides, the encroachment of men into female territory is an encouraging sign of progress. The greater willingness to accept homosexuality indicates not just a broader definition of sexuality but also of gender roles. The walls of gender identity aren't necessarily being knocked down, but rather rearranged. Let's face it! If women start kicking butt a la Jackie Chan, there's no reason why a man can't have eyebrows that rival Catherine Zeta Jones.

    Genevieve Roja is a freelance writer living in the Bay Area.

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    Very interesting article! I too have read a similar article on metrosexuals in Singapore papers some time back.
    Hmm.... i find that quite a large proportion of Japanese young men can be classified as metrosexuals. They have their eyebrows shaped, put on makeup, have regular pedicures and manicures....
    "It is hard to tell of happiness. Time goes by and we feel safe too soon". ~ One Stab ( Legends of The Fall) ~

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    yes, very good article! I've also read a couple articles on this new trend that has been starting in America. And yah I would say that a lot of Japanese boys are metrosexual. <-- Part of the reason I like them. I just never really got western masculinity. ugh. Thank GOD it's changing quickly! ^.^;;;;;;
    Click Click!

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    hehe.

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    Carolgirl00, I know what you mean about "Western masculinity." I've never agreed with most men's interpretation of what it means to be masculine. To me, what makes a man masculine is a man who knows who and what he's about and who loves being male. You can't get any more masculine than that! And I think the same is true for a woman--that what makes a woman feminine is a woman who knows who and what she's about and loves being female. I've seen some women who look as though they just stepped out of Playboy, and yet they don't come across as very feminine because they are still unsure of who and what they are in the world. And some men who aren't being true to themselves just don't come across as very masculine, in my opinion. It's more about a person's essence and confidence. And I think as more men and women are comfortable with themselves, they will have a greater sense of style and enjoy pampering themselves more.

    But teardrop, they are wearing makeup?? That's a first. But, hey, if it makes them feel good about themselves, go for it, I guess. (Not so sure I'd be attracted to a man in makeup, though).

    In any event, it sounds like men are enjoying themselves more, which is what it's all about.

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    i guess half a year or smth ago i read an article about nylon-tights produced by a company for men only.
    i guess thats just a part of this trend of gender-borders falling apart now in two directions instead of one.
    since its all just a "can do if you want to" and no "must" it cant be bad i guess.

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    Ya... they DO wear makeup as a matter of fact Satori and it's mascara in particular. I'm ok with men who pluck their brows and carry facial blotters with them but MASACARA??? Yucks!

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    My sentiments exactly!

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    Hmmm.I think this is just very,very interesting, and Im curiously waiting for how this phenomenom spreads and changes...and how the men will look like in,lets say, 5 years.
    A man with a make-up good be also good-looking and stylish,like with everything in life: too much is too much.
    Im positively open to this thing...

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    mascara? wow.... *can't really imagine a guy applying mascara* lol, hrm that is a bit diff. but i don't think there's anything wrong with guys wearing cover up or anything. I wonder if they were eye liner too? o.o

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    oh and Satori! well I think that a man is masculine when he gives off a masculine sex appeal. I mean, trust me on this, a guy can wear tons of makeup, be sporting a DRESS, and still give off masculine sex appeal!! (me and my jrock. ) But, I think that there are some guys who can give off female sex appeal...and that's kinda when it's a bit odd. Don't really know how it happens but it does. lol. It's kind of like the concept of tomboys. even though they where guy's clothes and even sometimes act more like guys, some men find tomboys very sexy. Same thing really.

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    Carolgirl00, I totally agree. That's what I was talking about when I said that it was all about essence and confidence--and the fact that they love being male! In other words, the exterior doesn't matter as much as the interior.



    Of course, a great exterior is always nice! ... but it's just not what determines their masculinity.

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    Oh ya Carolgirl00. Although i'm not a big fan of J-rock (Visual-kei), i agree that there's still the masculine sex appeal. I guess it boils down to the whole package. How one carries oneself...

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    I wish my hubby was slightly more metrosexual lol
    He doesn't care about clothes at all. He did painting in some of his good casual wear and still wears them. When we came back to Japan people actually thought he was being fashionable (paint on clothes is "in" now???) but I had to laugh and explain no, he didn't buy them with paint on......

    He also only brought one, yes ONE, casual pair of shoes to Japan his reason being he only has one pair of feet.......

    as you can imagine it's no fun going shopping with him!
    That said, he is very manly which I like ;)

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    Nzueda: That's so funny!!
    By the way, you both make a great couple. Loved your photos!

    Teardrop, Maji, and Chipi: I also loved your photos as well. Thanks for sharing!

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    hee hee, metrosexual....................


    Kinda gross, but I guess if they like it,...........................
    Like I said, yeah yeah, you really are fit but my gosh don't you just know it? ~ Fit But You Know It/ Mike Skinner aka 'The Streets'

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    While I think it's great that men are enjoying and understanding themselves more, there is a downside this article points to--that now men are being assaulted by Capitalism just like women have been for years:

    "Today, beaten down by Madison Avenue's assault on his ego, men are being pushed to do just as much of the spending themselves. There's nothing better for the corporate bottom line than to have both husband and wife haunting the corridors of the local mall."

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    Thus the true dilemma of metrosexuality and why many men won't jump into it, or at least not fully.

    I'm all for looking better, but I can tell what actually can help and what really is a waste, at least in my eyes.

    Some people say the right set of clothes and shoes can make a difference. But they don't have to cost 150 $ a piece either.
    Some people say esthetic care (i.e. facials, manicures/pedicures, hair removal and the other 6 of 9 yards) can make that difference.
    Some people say cosmetics can make that difference too.
    And others might say the general attitude of themselves or how they interact with others would change.


    If I had to make these choices, clothes = yes; esthetics = somewhat reluctant, depends; cosmetics = NO. (For me the biggest turn-off are vegetarians with goops of make-up. Due to the fact that a lot of cosmetic products kill animals just for odor glands, not even for their meat. Vegetarians and make-up are #2 and #3) --- And my attitude would change and evolve with time to something more confdident in myself, not afraid to do or say anything. I think I hit that point but the next day I realize I need to do twice as much to make it. Becoming a metro- wouldn't do that, it may accelerate the process though :P


    Money is a factor. I will never lose money in order to maintain an ideal even I don't fully view. And most metrosexuals I have seen or heard about have short hair. That is one thing I will never surrender on the path to climax outer, inner and spiritual handsomeness/bliss. It will hopefully complement it :P


    Whatever I experiment, it will not be eclipsed by the capitalistic view, nor will it be directly copied on some magazine's ideal of the perfect man. And the sidenote brought by Sgt. Wang : If I don't like it, I don't do it. It's fairly simple
    The difference between men and puppets is only by who controls the string.

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    Ln.

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    That was good, lineartube!
    You have bewitched me, body and soul...

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    Sums up metrosexuality right there. "I wish I'd been a girly, just like me dear papa!" Ah, good times!

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    haha I'v not heard that song in years,, lumberjack! brings back years of badness/hideing things/ too this day I still dont believe that my parents have heard "lumberjack song" because we all hide it and it would have scared the life out of my mum and dad!!!
    Debs

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    Thumbs up Oh yeah.

    I guess that makes me a phat metrosexual, hmm?
    Great article.

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    I so totally love Monty Python!!

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    Speaking of Monty Python, their group performed at George Harrison's tribute concert a few years ago. Rather unnecessary intermissions, but quite amusing. I think Queen Liz's stiff upper lip turned into a smile of bemused rubbernecking satisfaction.

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    well, I think it should be quite ok, if they like it... (but say... isn't makeup... a bit overdoing... o.O)
    *~Mayura~*

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