Ever noticed that (in mainstream society), while women are criticized for not putting effort into their appearance or “taking care of themselves,” as the coded language goes, men are often judged for just the opposite? It’s likely that you’ve noticed the former but not so much the latter. Let me be clear: I think there is just as much of an issue with the male-imposed critical gaze and unrealistic body images that women have had to grapple with forever, as I do with the also male-imposed notion that “real” men don’t spend time on their appearance. I don’t think men should be held to fucked up beauty standards as women have been, just as I don’t believe men should ingest damaging hormonal contraceptives as women have; endless wrong never make a right. I do, however, think that notions of beauty for both women and men need some attentive revision.
The term “metrosexual” originated in an article by Mark Simpson published in 1994 in The Independent. Simpson wrote:
“Metrosexual man, the single young man with a high disposable income, living or working in the city (because that's where all the best shops are), is perhaps the most promising consumer market of the decade. In the Eighties he was only to be found inside fashion magazines such as GQ. In the Nineties, he's everywhere and he's going shopping.”
The typical “metrosexual” is a young man with money to spend, living in or within close proximity to a city, because that's where all the best stores, clubs, gyms and hairdressers are located. Although he might be gay, straight or bisexual, this is irrelevant because whatever his orientation, he clearly loves himself a little too much. He is clearly too invested in his own pleasure. But why is a man who does something a woman is known to do (care about her appearance) automatically over-the-top?
It’s precisely the unflattering portrayal of the “metrosexual” that has contributed to a backlash against the term from men who simply wanted to feel free to spend more time, care, money, (you name it) on their appearance than had been the norm in the 1990s.
I have a friend who used to complain to me about her boyfriend’s horrible fashion sense. How ill-fitting his pants were, how he was completely unaware of his physical appearance. It bothered her that he didn’t put more effort into “looking pretty” for her. She wasn’t talking about spending (much) money really. She was mostly talking about wanting to feel like she was important enough to him to warrant a glance in the mirror; she knew she did it for him, after all, and that he appreciated it. Ultimately, said friend communicated her feelings honestly to her man, and lucky for her, he was receptive. She offered some fashion pointers, as did a few of their mutual friends, and for weeks I didn’t hear the end of how much better their relationship was and how much more attracted to him she was. And it was way more about the fact that he’d been willing to put in an effort for her (which ultimately made him feel better too), than the specifics of any given outfit or any dollar amount.
Beauty for all, inside and out! :)
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