Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Recently it has come to my attention that I may be a “metrosexual.” Many people have told me that I look “metro” (short for metrosexual), act metro, and have metro tendencies. I was never exactly sure what people meant when they used the phrase, but it seemed to me the word had a negative connotation, one that was emasculating. On one occasion I was asked, “as a metrosexual, who would you say spends more time on their hair, you or your girlfriend?” For these reasons, I have decided to examine the concept of metrosexuality closely and to try to understand what it means.

Urbandictionary.com, defines metrosexual as, “[a] heterosexual male who appears slightly gay due to his impeccable sense of style, belief in designer hygiene, and willingness to emote. [B]y definition, a metrosexual must be male due to the ster[e]otype that women are usually conscientious of these things from the beginning.” Furthermore, it has broken up the typical metrosexual into 2 groups, Metrosexual A and B. Metrosexual A, is defined as a individual that depicts a more apparent form of metrosexuality--men that are physically metro. “This includes but is not limited to: hair dying, matching/nice clothes, clean nails, and tanning.” The other group, Metrosexaul B, is considered the less obvious metrosexual because you cannot tell from their physical appearance that they are metro. Instead, they are described as being interested in metro activities, which include but are not “limited to: musical theatre, celebrity gossip, appreciating fashion, and occasionally dressing well.”Metrosexual B men do not necessarily openly show their interest in these activities; in fact, one might describe them as “closet metrosexuals”.

These definitions really got my head spinning. Do we really need to create a category for men that have the qualities mentioned above? Am I some how short of being a heterosexual man for using hair products, wearing nice cloths and enjoying celebrity gossip? I certainly don’t think so. Our society as a whole has placed great weight on appropriate gender roles along gender boundaries. Stereotyping in this manner really threatens to limit the self-expression of others and promotes a specific image of what is appropriate for a particular gender. If we continue this practice, we will be taking away from what makes each of us human, freely expressing our uniqueness and who we are as individuals. I don’t want to be forced to become, what I guess you would call, a Metrosexual B male, but rather, I want to be free of any worries of how I may be perceived or treated by others.

One way we may be able to combat this type of limited thinking is to put a stop to it from a marketing perspective. Advertisements and marketing campaigns too often outline what is “manly” and what is “feminine.” This can be seen in ads for fragrances by companies like Ralph Lauren, Calvin Kline, and Hugo Boss, where you can clearly see the emphasis on the “for men” or “for women” label. Do fragrances really need to be labeled in such a fashion? Shouldn’t people be allowed to choose for themselves what fragrance defines who they are? It is sad that companies have such a large influence on how we essentially behave in society, but given that we live in a capitalistic society, we must learn to approach social problems, such as the one at hand, with this controlling presence in mind.


Alcestis said...

"We will be taking away from what makes each of us human, freely expressing our uniqueness and who we are as individuals."

I completely agree! These labels we keep coming up with, whether they comfort us to know who we are or comforting to others to know who we are, are really bring us down. Unfortunately, I have played into these gender labels when trying to find a job. Every time I walk into an interview I think don't be too sweet, they don't a girly girl, they want someone assertive and aggressive. Then I walk out thinking oh no you were too agressive. I know this is all part of the game, but still, life would be so much easier if we could just be who we are and that would be good enough.

Yazzyjazzy said...

Excellent picture!

I personally don't think the term metrosexual has a negative connotation. I think being metrosexual is a positive thing - it just means you take care of yourself, which I guess traditionally, men don't worry about so much. But its refreshing to see guys care enough about their appearance and take the time to produce some eye candy for the rest of us!

I think your point about advertising gender specific smells in perfumes and colognes is really interesting. I wish we could just decide for ourselves what we want to smell like too! What is interesting is that what a man smells like and what a woman smells like is so ingrained in us now, that we are actually attracted to the scents from the perfumes or colognes of the gender we are attracted to! I know some women that mix it up and use cologne, but I don't know any man that wears perfume. Would you wear perfume?

Betty said...

Do we really need to create a category for men that have the qualities mentioned above? Am I some how short of being a heterosexual man for using hair products, wearing nice cloths and enjoying celebrity gossip?

I agree with you for the most part - separate categories for men that suggest slight emasculation, or putting it on that kind of hierarchical system is totally unnecessary, but like all other groupings and stereotype, they are stemmed from some kind of truth or they are commonly occurring enough in the first place to actually warrant some kind of grouping in the first place.

On the other hand, females are often dubbed as "butch" or "tomboy-ish" struggle with the same complex of their identity being boxed up or limited to certain factors.

I think the positive spin to put on these categories is that while they separate men and women on one hand in general, they also welcome a more sense of fluidity between being a man and a woman (a more feminine man is still a man, a more masculine woman is still a woman, etc). :)

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Rebecca said...

The year I was born, 1954, the “Marlboro Man” advertisement was launched as a means to introduce the Marlboro feminine cigarettes (with filter) to the male population. Up until then, the filtered tip was strictly a female product. The idea was to portray rugged men, the cowboy type (with wrinkled rough skin); smoking filtered cigarettes.

The campaign was one of the most successful advertising crusades ever and it managed to transform the Marlboro image from the feminine to the rugged male image within months.

The Metrosexual man was “invented” in 1994 by a British journalist Mark Simpson. The term related to the young urban male of all sexual orientations (straight, gay and bisexual) who focuses on his appearance and “invests” in products for enhancing his looks, like skin care products, make-up, exfoliating treatments and fashionable clothes.

Soccer star, David Beckham who was portrayed as the Metrosexual poster boy. It was a calculated strategy to bridge the image of the masculine straight male figure (sports man) and the well dressed, fashionable stylistic man for advertising purposes.

The Marlboro man represented the introduction of the feminine Marlboro filter cigarette to the rough, rugged male. The Metrosexual man introduced the attitude of self-indulgence in ones appearance and consumerism of products that in the past were associated only with women.

gtg263r said...

Regarding Yazzyjazzy's opinion that the term 'metrosexual' does not have a negative connotation, I think I would tend to slightly disagree with that.

I think that the term has a negative to neutral connotation. I've never heard it used in a positive context, such as "I wish I was more metrosexual" or "I wish my boyfriend was more metrosexual."

I think the negative to neutral connotations are built in on at least two different levels. First, the actual term itself implicates the person's sexual orientation - not simply gender traits.

Second, as others have pointed out through their characterizations, the crux of the label concerns a man who displays a higher-than-average knowledge and concern about fashion and appearance. I think negative connotations stem from this because it implies a certain level of "vanity" that is not expected of men in American society. While not necessarily a negative trait, I think that the term connotes more than just a man who presents himself well.

Dusty said...

I am in total agreement with the limitations that such stereotyping places on all genders. I also want to offer that historically men have been expected at times to be even more feminine than women (the Victorian age for instance). And that at many times in history, a male suitor of a "lady" would be expected to be exceptionally well groomed according to the current social standards (1920s for example). Masculinity evolves as our society and class structure does, and I too hope it evolves away from strignent social controls and more towards celebration of self expression.