And then one day I realised. After turning on my laptop and heading to Facebook, in anticipation of cringing over photographs from last night, I was instead greeted by the full extent of the St. Tropez-using, All Saints-wearing affiliates of mankind with pouts to rival Scarlett Johansson. The smart attire was now compromised to the point of ties being worn without shirts, and shirts being worn without shame. Stylish hats were swapped for gelled quiffs, and neatly groomed facial hair was exchanged for inches of fake tan and bronzer. Fair enough, in our society of equal rights and anti-sexism, men should be allowed to use cosmetics and style their hair, just as women are able to wear trousers and vote in elections. However, we’ve got to remember the importance of maintaining standards and conventions; when we toy with traditions, problems are caused.
Several of my friends have suffered the quandaries of metrosexualism. Friend number one was faced with a problem when visiting her new boyfriend, a gymaholic and lover of low-cut tops. He invited her round to his place after several weeks of dating, and everything was going well, until she conducted the standard house search. She ensued to find a fake tan mitt and bottle of St. Tropez in his bedroom, and was certain he was seeing another girl. She flew into an angry rage, and it took Mr. Metrosexual a while to calm her down. Eventually, after several minutes of explanations, she accepted that her boyfriend was faithful to her, and to the brown stuff.
Another friend’s sexuality is regularly misdiagnosed, due to his situation as a metrosexual. He could never understand why blokes kept checking him out, while girls always asked if he’d be their ‘gay best friend’. Eventually he twigged, realising the assumptions of homosexuality were down to his colour coded outfits and carefully styled hair. Despite realising the connotations of his appearance, my friend remains devoted to his metrosexual tendencies, ensuring his trainers perfectly match his polo shirt while still moaning about the man that flirts with him at the gym.
I will not hesitate to admit that I find the phenomenon unnerving. Recently, I found myself in opposition of the metrosexual male, confused – if not appalled – by a male friend’s admittance of purchasing a t-shirt because it matched his shoes. Gone are the days of a lad buying some jeans because the salesgirl was attractive, or wearing a shirt ‘because it’s the only clean one’. Now, it is much more typical for a man to wear a jumper because the cut suits his frame, the colour complements his skin tone, and the deep V-neck shows the right amount of carefully trimmed chest hair. I questioned my friend about his desire to be co-ordinated and he responded with the typical idiom of ‘moderation in all things’. Apparently hair products are fine, as long as they’re not piled on. Low-cut t-shirts are also acceptable, as long as they’re not skin tight. Fake tan is a definite no-go, but other means of acquiring a healthy glow are absolutely fine, including the sun bed.
I still can’t bring myself to understand the metrosexual, and if you also suffer from this aversion, then remember you’re not alone. While it’s all good and well to accept that men are allowed to take pride in their appearance, we’ve got to remember that metrosexual tendencies directly oppose the expectations of ‘real men’. It’s highly unlikely that a Hunter Gatherer questioned the paleness of his skin in between slaughtering wildebeests, or that a Roman gladiator was ten minutes late to the ring because his hair wouldn’t sit right. ‘Real men’ aren’t supposed to be perfectly coiffed and shimmering; they’re meant to be big, hairy and smelly. As someone once reassured me, ‘If my boyfriend’s borrowing my fake tan then he’s only two drawers away from borrowing my knickers.’ She proceeded to state that men should never take longer than twenty minutes in the bathroom, and should ideally shower under waterfalls and scrub with rocks. Despite the comicality of her opinion, I can’t help but agree.
Evoking suspicions, confusing sexualities and causing frustrations, the concept of metrosexualism can be seen as a problematic. I’m not saying that these issues would be avoided if men returned to the trilby and waistcoat, but many uncertainties and irritations would subside if lads left grooming to the girls. Then again, the egalitarian inside me continues to scream ‘Equality of the Genders!’, and if the ladies can primp and preen, then men are allowed to as well. I suppose people should do whatever makes them happy, whether it’s applying five coats of fake tan, bleaching their hair to death, or wearing a top that threatens to reveal a lot. As long as we’re comfortable and confident in our skin, that’s all that matters, right? Although I’d still pick a neanderthal over a metrosexual, any day…