For the first time in the history of fashion and manliness, the Marlboro Man was replaced with the softer, well groomed man of the 21st century. In came the Metrosexual Man. So what makes this man so fashionable and suave, and all other men passé?
Ryan Seacrest. David Beckham. Need I say more?
Handsome, good looking and impeccably well groomed men who aren’t ashamed to admit they get their facials and pedicures, love shopping and in David’s case, likes to wear his wife’s underwear.
These guys and other heterosexual equals who embraced their inner woman made headlines circa 2004, with magazine covers, in depth articles and even scholarly research papers written entirely on the new phenomenon taking over the world, metrosexuality.
So who is a Metrosexual? He is the one who spends hours in the gym and has gallons of gel on his hair. He can be seen at the hippest of clubs, wearing the trendiest of clothes. He has the money to spend and knows what to spend it on. He likes a Siberian cucumber facial as much as the next and will recommend his favorite deep sea body scrub to you.
He started out in the cities but now, can be seen in the most obscure backwoods or suburb. He is usually straight but can be gay or bisexual but that doesn’t matter because the biggest love of his life is himself.
Before David Beckham and his sarong, men were of the macho kind. They liked football and guns, and meat and potatoes. They didn’t shop. Shopping was for girls. And wimps. If they did venture out, into a store, it was with a detailed shopping list with many overwritten scraps of paper with blot marks all over.
To this man, grooming meant nothing but a bath and a shave. If there was one person who could be assumed to be the embodiment of this trend, it’s the ‘Marlboro Man’, he of the rugged masculinity, he with the worn out denims and cowboy hat.
By the early nineties, this raw, ungroomed masculinity was being rejected by popular culture and capitalism. The macho man wasn’t a good enough target audience as he made his money for his wife to spend. The market needed a kind of man who spent more time on his looks and image and less on his identity. Witness the birth of the metrosexual.
Metrosexuality can be credited to either the psychological manipulation of the consumer by corporates and advertising, or it can be due to the simple inherent need for change, the need to be different from one’s predecessors.
But the current thought that metrosexuality is a recent trend is completely untrue. British and French nobility of the 15th and 16th century paid great attention to what they wore and how they accessorized it. Their station called for rigorous adherence to etiquette. Men were expected to spend as much time on their appearance as women. Only with the World Wars and the decline in monarchies did this change, leading to the counter culture of the 20th century.
The first appearance of the term ‘metrosexual’ was in the article ‘It’s a queer world’ by Mark Simpson in a UK national paper, “The Independent” on the 15th of November 1994. He cites the reason for the term being the proximity of these well groomed young men to the big cities or metros as that’s where it all began. Possibly due to the more tolerant culture of big cities, as well as the large amount of hair salons, spas and clubs.
Metrosexuality allowed men a new way to think. They didn’t have to be the sacrificing male of yesteryear and instead, could guiltlessly think about himself as well. They could spend as much as they want on skinny ties and cigarette jeans. They could obsess over the color of their highlights and whether their Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses weren’t dated as of yet. Tee shirts under jackets were replaced by fine silk shirts. They were allowed to appreciate art and literature without being panned as sissies.
Click here to continue reading: The Rise of the Ubersexual Man