Welcome to 2016, the year the metrosexual died.
The word ‘metrosexual’ is a lazy term to categorise any guy who likes to look after himself and his appearance. I find it particularly archaic.
Originating in an article for the Independent on November 15, 1994, Mark 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.”
As a nineties kid and a noughties teenager, it was a term that I grew up with – citing David Beckham as the metrosexual archetype. But 12 years after the term was first used by Simpson, I’m pleased to declare that the metrosexual is dead, and here’s why…
The landscape of men’s style and grooming has changed. It’s no longer a taboo subject or something purely associated with gay men. And why should it be?
As a 28-year-old man living in London, I am forever inspired by the things I see; from the city boy with the handle bar moustache standing in front of me in the coffee queue, with his thick rimmed glasses and Chelsea boots; to the guys I’ve worked with – city dwellers who look after their skin and actively chat about the hairstyles they like… all without the need to declare “No homo”. It’s refreshing to see that we – as a society – have evolved.
And what I say is not just a stab in the dark. With 9 million views on my men’s style, lifestyle and grooming YouTube channel, I’m in a prime position to know what men are actively looking for on the internet.
I receive an array of comments and questions on a daily basis from guys across the world. With my viewers sitting at 93% male, it’s a constantly growing and evolving community of guys all looking to explore their own sense of self.
By far the most popular content type that I create are hair ‘how to‘ videos – simple overviews of men’s haircuts and styles, and how you can achieve them in your own home.
Contrary to the style and fashion videos I create, hairstyles are something that guys can do straight away. Experimenting with products and techniques, they can define their own style. Sure, you have to buy some basic hair products, but you don’t need to bring in a massive Topman or Mr Porter haul to look good.
I’ve also noticed a change in attitude from people in my daily life. It appears that men are more comfortable in their own style choices. Shopping on ASOS or checking out new trends in Topman is not something that has to be done in secret or associated with gay culture.
The Oxford dictionary cites the metrosexual as,
“A heterosexual urban man who enjoys shopping, fashion, and similar interests traditionally associated with women or homosexual men.”
To me this makes absolutely no sense. What would you call a gay man that doesn’t enjoy shopping – closetted?
Equating style with sexuality is a dangerous proposition, perpetuating the perceived negative connotation that well-groomed and styled (‘metrosexual’) men are less manly than their ‘lads, lads, lads‘, red-blooded counterparts – a view which is both offensive to heterosexual and homosexual men alike.
The discussion of sexuality should have nothing to do with this, but I feel that it needs to be mentioned. Although I receive so many fantastic and positive comments on YouTube, I will sometimes receive comments such as, “Gay” when I wear anything fitted or ‘on trend’. I’ve come to realise more and more that style is so subjective and quite often dictated by our environment and societal norms.
What we perceive as fashion forward in the West is quite often contradictory to what is deemed as masculine in other countries. Sure, I get it. But let’s get one thing straight: wearing skinny jeans does not make you gay. Choosing to have sex with men – and enjoying it – makes you gay.
It’s an exciting time to be a man. You have so many options and the opportunity to truly define who you want to be and how you want others to see you. Looking after yourself and caring about your appearance doesn’t make you metrosexual, it makes you a man living in 2016.
RIP the Metrosexual. It was fun while it lasted.