Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Metrosexual Matters


What do the international celebrities David Beckham, Justin Timberlake, and, Johnny Depp have in common with Indian celebrities, Shah Rukh Khan, Saif AliKhan and Rohit Bal?

Well, in several surveys, these men are all rated as the most famous ‘metrosexuals’ today. This term – for which, your latest word processing software, still puts a red squiggle under it – has gained popularity at an incredible pace.

Are you a male? Do you tweeze, wax or trim your eyebrows? Do you shave/wax your legs, chest or back? Do you polish or paint your nails? Do you gel or perm your hair? Do you enjoy manicure and pedicure, like your female friends? Oh.…..you do? Well, nice to meet you, Mr. Metrosexual!

A metrosexual, you would have gathered, is a straight man perceived to have the style, culture and personal grooming practices usually associated with gay men.

The coinage of this word is attributed to a journalist, Mark Simpson, who said, “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.”

For us, now, the real question is, Is it the fall of the He-man, and the rise of the Metrosexual? What’s happening to all the he-men? Are they becoming she-men? Is it not macho to be macho anymore? Is ‘sissy’ not a belittling word, anymore?

Seeing swarms of this new emerging breed of modern, straight, stylish, sensitive, well-groomed guys, in shopping malls, cinema halls, discotheques and university portals, one assumes that the tough working woman has broken the glass ceiling and is driving men into sensitive she-like attitude. After all, now, she wants to come home to a tender loving caring guy, who can cook and cry, as appropriate.

Euro RSCG Worldwide, a marketing communications agency based in New York City and more than 200 other cities, which conducted a worldwide survey on metrosexuals, says they are growing all around us. And that its not a passing fad!

This growing group of young, sophisticated spenders is a dream come true for makers of apparel, shoes, watches, jewellery and cosmetics. And this so-called feminization apparently has also made the marketers learn one thing : Soft men sell.

In the movies, when a man cries unabashedly at mushy-mushy incidents and memories, when a man admits he gets scared of blood, when a man cooks good food for a working wife, when a man seeks female help for man's work. It seems to be giving us a new learning : Soft men sell.

But, what do women think? Do they like this new trend?

No, says Stacey Pressman, a freelance producer for ESPN. Writing on her website, she compares a metrosexual to a female body builder. "While there is nothing wrong with a woman who is healthy and physically fit, who works out and builds muscle mass, there is something aesthetically unappealing when taken to the extreme. She looks masculine. To me, all of the lifestyle characteristics of the metrosexual man make him look feminine.... and I truly hope this trend fades out"

But yes, says Sharmila Khanna, an event organiser in Mumbai, in an article in ‘The Week”. "It enhances our relationship when we do things together. Who wouldn't want a well manicured-pedicured man who takes care of the way he looks?" Indian metrosexual is growing strong.

It is said that the cave-man was macho because if he was not, he would die. Or, at the least, he would not be attractive to women and, therefore, would have no opportunity to fulfil his biological need to have children. Today, good leaders and CEOs are expected to be sensitive, have empathy and bond with their people, be creative, act on instinct and gut feel (women's intuition?). Values like these are what makes them successful, and success is attractive to the opposite sex. There lies the reasoning.

Gender roles have been undergoing a redefinition in recent years as women enter the workforce as never before and men embrace less confining views of masculinity.

So, whether we like it or not, the metrosexual is here! And might stay here for quite a while.


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