With the dawn of a new millennium came the rise of the metrosexual – a distinctly cultured breed of straight men whose taste in art, fashion, personal grooming and interior design mirrors that of his stereotypically gay counterpart.
This growing trend, fueled immensely by the popularity of shows like “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” has resulted in men all over the country indulging in the once purely feminine joys of spa treatments, tanning salons and designer clothes. More than ever, the line between masculinity and femininity is being blurred to the point of virtual nonexistence.
Yet, is this new fusion of gender roles necessarily a positive thing for a society that still clings to tradition in a number of ways? Or are the boundaries that dictate those roles there because they work and have worked since the beginning of time?
When I was first exposed to the metrosexual trend several years ago, I welcomed it with open arms. In my hometown of San Francisco – where gender roles knew no boundaries and societal expectations were whatever we wanted and made them to be – it could only be expected that, sooner or later, straight men would catch on to the little luxuries that made being a woman so fabulous and then hop eagerly onboard.
It wasn’t long before my boyfriend at the time made that fateful discovery and joined me in my enthusiasm. Together, we set out to experience all that our beautiful city had to offer – making sure to hit Saks Fifth Avenue, Spa Radiance and the SF Museum of Modern Art along the way, of course.
It made perfect sense for a girl like me. Not only did my guy share in those wonderfully guilty pleasures I hold so dear on a regular basis, but he looked damn good doing it in his flawlessly tailored Armani shirts and polished shoes. To my delight, his hands were always soft from the Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream he borrowed so often, and I could run my fingers through his dark, silky hair knowing that his Paul Mitchell Sculpting Lotion was doing its job.
But a few years and a breakup later, I can’t help wondering where it’s going to end. Men now account for 29 percent of spa visits, according to a recent survey by Glamour magazine, and world-class designer John Paul Gaultier is launching a new men’s makeup line that includes eyeliner, concealer, colorless lip balm, bronzer and shimmering skin cream. Am I – at one point this trend’s most enthusiastic cheerleader – the only one who thinks it’s all getting a teeny bit out of hand?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m perfectly happy sharing the salon with a guy or two just trying to keep their cuticles at bay or an unsightly unibrow from growing out of control. But I just hope this age of metrosexual freedom isn’t signaling the end of ruggedness, chivalry and the vast array of traits I happen to enjoy in “manly” men.
For me, men’s defining characteristics are undoubtedly sexy. Though I have yet to embrace ESPN as anything but an intriguingly foreign concept, I have found that uncovering the differences that define two individuals is half the fun.
Daily Nexus staff writer Meghan Palma is particularly intrigued by ESPN because it blends the rugged players and the male sportscasters who wear makeup to look pretty for the camera.