Chapter 2: Foreign Literature
Review of Related Literature and Studies
According to Matthew Hall on his Cultural Studies: On-line Constructions of Metrosexuality and Masculinities, a metrosexual can be defined as a man who is narcissistic in nature, loves his urban lifestyle and is a straight man who is in touch with his feminine side.1 A British journalist named Mark Simpson devised this word. It can be said that any urban male of any sexual orientation who spends a lot of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle is known as a metrosexual. There are a large number of celebrities out there who are famous icons such as David Beckham, Brad Pitt, Robbie Williams, P. Diddy and George Clooney.2
Metrosexual male is known as a straight male who is in touch with his feminine side and can color coordinate, exfoliate and is manscaped well. This description can be that a metrosexual is a middle class urban heterosexual male who is concerned about the presentation of himself in terms of style and fashion. It is felt that the metrosexual revolution is more like an upbringing by the beauty industry to sell expensive skin care products and allowing marketers to capitalize on the fear of insecurity, which has been a successful formula, which has worked with women for decades. Marketers have targeted men with successful careers and disposable incomes as their new targets.
As Hall stated in his study, metrosexual men are narcissistic in nature that is influenced by whatever they see in magazines and advertising. They tend to evaluate how they look and what they would like to be. A metrosexual male is characterized by metrosexual icons such as David Beckham who emulates the way he dresses and grooms himself. According to Mark Simpson, a metrosexual is a man who has loads of disposable income and is able to enjoy the city life as that’s where all the shops, clubs, gyms and hairdressers are located. They are also spending a lot of their time in front of the mirror grooming themselves well as spending time at boutiques, bars, parlors and beauty salons. Cosmetic makers have reported a huge surge in their sales due to the emergence of a new male market. Sales representatives reported a double digit growth in the male cosmetics range. The male consumer market is growing faster than the women’s industry. Their sales have tripled in the last 10 years. Metrosexual men have more personal care products than medicine in their medicine cabinets.
The metrosexual male worships himself as he feels that he is his own love and pleasure object. Metrosexuality has led to a new era emerging for male health and grooming. Recent figures in America have shown that the market for plastic surgery for men have doubled over the last five years while the market for men’s hair dyes have increased from 18 million to 100 million during the same period. The market in Britain has changed as well as the male grooming market had a worth of around 585 pounds in 2003. Men are obsessed with their looks and are focused on maintaining their bodies to make sure of their personal appearance.
This study, like the article, is aimed to inform the people about the metrosexual persona and his ways. The researchers aimed to understand how the people view metrosexuals, and how they act in the society.
Metrosexuals, according to The Washington Post, are straight, hip and moisturized men. They use $40 face creams, wear Bruno Magli shoes, and keep their hair always just so.3
The metrosexual male, the Post describes, likes to go to wine bars and enjoys shopping, his knack for seeing when a bag clashes with an outfit and his understanding of why some women have 47 pairs of black shoes. But, he is straight as an arrow. They are simply “straight urban men, willing, even eager, to embrace their feminine sides.”
They are also the marketer’s dream. The Post reports that a focused group discussion to find out their product preferences was recently held in New York of 11 straight guys who were into Diesel jeans, interior design and yoga. Next month, a makeover show will be held called “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” in which a team of five gay men “transform a style-deficient and culture-deprived straight man from drab to fab.”
A shopping magazine is being developed for men. So are a hair coloring system and an all-over body deodorant. The number of plastic surgery procedures for men has increased threefold since 1997 to 807,000. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, metrosexuals get pedicure and wear brighter colors, but are not afraid to be mistaken as gay. 4 In other words, the Post points out, the metrosexual is “a sensitive guy who went to malls, bought magazines and spent freely to improve his personal appearance.”
In recent years, several articles have marveled at this new breed of man, or rather at the label he has been given. Attempts have been made to define this man in The Washington Post, and one man in particular has seemingly become the metrosexual poster child.
Taking advantage of the eccentric behavior of David Beckham, the media has not surprisingly touted him as the quintessential metrosexual, seen donning a sarong and nail polish from time to time.5 But does every metrosexual come with a skirt in tow?
According to Men’s Historical Interest in Fashion, although the metrosexual appears to be a new trend, history proves otherwise.6 Historically, men’s clothing has been at least as decorative and elaborate as women’s attire, and men have had a strong interest in fashion, grooming and appearance. Thus, the current trend of men interested in feminine areas of fashion and grooming is really not so modern.
Throughout history there have been times in which fashion and grooming were of the utmost importance and interest to men. “As late as the 17th and 18th centuries, men wore silk stockings, cosmetics, long curled and perfumed hair”.7 Men were very attentive to their appearance at this time and grooming rituals included the use of rouge, heavy perfume oils and skin lighteners.8 Fashions for men at this time included high- heeled shoes and stockings. Clothing was usually elaborately decorated with embroidery in bright colors and ribbons.
At the beginning of the 19th century, “Dandies” exemplified a trend quite similar to the current metrosexual phenomenon. Dandies were a group of men who were very interested in fashion. They were, “overt and active consumers of appearances and related products”.9 Dandies were very concerned with the fit and tailoring of their clothing as well as with the elaborateness of their neckwear, namely stocks and cravats. They were extremely concerned with their appearance and, “some dandies were alleged to spend a whole morning in the arrangement of their cravats”. Thus, the extreme fashion interest of this group of men is evident and quite similar to the current trend of men’s fashion interest today. Therefore, it seems what we are witnessing today is not so much a new phenomenon, but a revival of traits that were once part of the masculine persona. The question then, is how this came to be? Historians have many explanations as to why fashion itself became effeminate. Some believe that this idea is linked to the French Revolution when the French wanted to disassociate themselves from the elaborate styles of courtly dress and the new masculine ideal became the English country gentleman.12 Most historians conclude that the notion of fashion as feminine is based on economics and the industrial revolution, as women were usually in the home while men worked outside of the home. Women were the market for fashion since they were the consumers of the family. Men’s fashion became plain and simplistic in order to portray a more serious image for work. Men’s fashions during the 19th century were very gloomy and, “it was considered ungentlemanly to wear anything striking”. This is when men’s wear became associated with the dull, gray suit. Thus, the idea that fashion is feminine comes from, “assumptions that women are decorated and men are not”.
The look and tone of men’s wear remained serious through the middle of the 20th century. The focus of fashion remained on women. Yet, in 1948, Esquire magazine introduced the “Bold Look”. It involved greater coordination between accessories, suit and shirt. This was not a major change from what men were already wearing, but it drew attention to a fashion “look” for men. It wasn’t until the late 1950’s that fashion designers started designing for men. This led the way to what Esquire called, the “peacock revolution” in the late 1960’s. This was, “a crusade to brighten men’s clothes”. Men’s fashion became more elaborate and colorful and there was, “an upsurge of interest in fashion for men”. The bright colors of this period faded, and the suit returned in the 1980’s, “with a vengeance against all forms of soft-focus effeminacy”. Men’s wear was heavily influenced by the corporate culture of society, yet television shows such as Miami Vice, “redefined masculinity as appearance”, emphasizing style and presentation in men’s attire. Fashion, once the sole dominion of women, again included men. Thus, the historical relationship between men and fashion lends insight to the current trend of the metrosexual, and the reconstruction of masculinity occurring today.
With all the articles on male fashion and apparel one might assume that the researchers aim to look into the fashion industry concerning the metrosexuals. But that is not the case. This study is aimed to give the readers a bird’s-eye-view into how the metrosexuals affect the society and the changes they bring with them. One such is about the economy – market is booming with their help, and not just in the fashion department. With a lot of people wanting to look good, businesses like fitness and health gyms, training equipment and most of all, the fashion industry, are benefiting from it all.