It’s high time that we celebrate the all but obliteration of one of the most detestable terms of the last 20 years, “Metrosexual.”
Although it's creator, Mark Simpson, had intended a more specific meaning, upon its introduction in 1990s, by the 2000s a Metrosexual truly came into its own as a contemptible term. By, at the latest 2004, it was popularly understood and/or used to identify any man who took the smallest amount of concern for his appearance and presence.
You are tucking in your shirt? Metrosexual.
You have product in your hair? Metrosexual.
You pluck anything? Metrosexual.
You wear shoes and shirt and expect service? Metrosexual.
You brushed your teeth? Metrosexual
You pop your polo collar? That’s fine.
Ultimately, the core problem is that it confused dignity with vanity, and presupposed that masculinity and being a man should be synonymous with doing the bare minimum of up keep on one’s own self. Which, ironically, flies directly in the face of another component commonly associated with the pitiful, hypermasculine interpretations of maniless. That being that a man should know how to build, fix, and maintain robust, manly things like decks, cabins, buildings, motors, and such. Moreover, that we should know all these things down to the smallest detail, and if we’re doing them, then we’re doing them right.
If this were the case, then why the hell should it end with ourselves, our standards of appearance and dignity, and the self that we show to the world? Why should we not put anything but our best face forward (literally and figuratively) as the bare minimum?
I remember a radio commercial in 2003 or 2004, I’m thinking for a beer, that was all about things we should know as men, “the Man Code.” In this commercial the big punch-line was “Guys, you know the name of a socket set, not your conditioner.”
Barf. Even from 20-year-old-me that lame joke got crickets.
As if it were so awful and imasculating that a man might consciously choose a specific hygiene product. This commercial was entirely reflective of the lame, hypermasculine culture that created and used this flawed concept of the dreaded Metrosexual.
Dreaded mainly because, worse even than this already flawed understanding, is that it became a term with an insulting intent deeply rooted in homophobia and sexism. Hypermasculinity, in all it’s slobby, arrogant, simple-mindedness, is so insecure about it’s own masculinity that it deems anything less than the bare minimum of personal upkeep and presentation as effeminate, or “gay.”
And I really don’t need to touch how stupid and socially backwards that is. Unless we have another six hours here, which I don't.
And beyond the homophobic and sexist, this is about effort, and effort put towards making oneself better, we can appreciate phyisical and intellectual embetterment, so why should it end with the self-respect and effort required to have an appearance that matches.
Suffice it to say that masculinity has thankfully evolved since the 2000s. Finding better inspiration in both a classical sense of of male self-respect and dignity, but with contemporary, liberal openness and acceptance. It’s far from perfect, and there are still too many men who are, on a daily basis, also excessively far from perfect, whether in belief, thought, practice, or even subjects as trivial as style. But at least things have progressed to the point where “Metrosexual” has all but left our popular vernacular.
And lest we forget, this is not the first time in history that men have been concerned with their appearance. If anything, the final few decades of the 20th century were really just an unfortunate blip. Thank you very much, Boomers.
So. Let's kill the concept of Metrosexual. Let’s let it go.
Lastly, the updated, 2002 definition of Metrosexual by Simpson was:
“The typical metrosexual is a young man with money to spend, living in or within easy reach of a metropolis — because that’s where all the best shops, clubs, gyms and hairdressers are. He might be officially gay, straight or bisexual, but this is utterly immaterial because he has clearly taken himself as his own love object and pleasure as his sexual preference.”
When I read that I don’t read it as a distinctly male identity – though I do read it as the otherside of the same coin as the same insecurities that drives hyper-masculinity.
What I truly read is a buzzy, false, and rendunant word used to describe something we’ve always detested anyway, vanity.
So let's just call it that, and otherwise appreciate/encourage the growth and development for the better of the male identity.