There, deep in the hair-care aisle, carefully selecting the product du jour, or in the salon having his nails buffed to the perfect shine while checking out the latest fashion magazines -- it's not a bird, not a gay man, it's a metrosexual!
And judging by the popularity of the new TV program Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, many more once slovenly men want to join the ranks of this new breed of Renaissance man.
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Not yet familiar with the new buzzword, "metrosexual"? Some social observers and product marketers believe it's just a matter of time until "metrosexual" becomes part of your vocabulary -- and perhaps a description of your own lifestyle as well.
So what makes a metrosexual man? He's been defined as a straight, sensitive, well-educated, urban dweller who is in touch with his feminine side. He may have a standing appointment for a weekly manicure, and he probably has his hair cared for by a stylist rather than a barber. He loves to shop, he may wear jewelry, and his bathroom counter is most likely filled with male-targeted grooming products, including moisturizers (and perhaps even a little makeup). He may work on his physique at a fitness club (not a gym) and his appearance probably gets him lots of attention -- and he's delighted by every stare.
Blurring Gender Lines
Curiosity about metrosexuals climbed considerably in June when Euro RSCG Worldwide, a marketing communications agency based in New York City and more than 200 other cities, explored the changing face of American males in a report titled The Future of Men: USA. As part of this research, men ages 21 to 48 throughout the U.S. were surveyed on masculinity-related issues. The conclusions? According to the report, there is "an emerging wave of men who chafe against the restrictions" of traditional male roles and who "do what they want, buy what they want, enjoy what they want - regardless of whether some people might consider these things unmanly."
The metrosexual male is more sensitive and in some ways more effeminate than his father probably was, says Schuyler Brown, one of the architects of the study and associate director of strategic trendspotting and research at Euro RSCG Worldwide. Metrosexuals are willing to push traditional gender boundaries that define what's male and what's female, she adds, but they never feel that they are anything but "real men." Yes, a little primping and pampering were once considered solely female indulgences, but they are becoming much more permissible for men, too.