Cultural Studies

Introduction metro-sexual can be defined, as a man who is narcissistic in nature, loves his urban lifestyle and a straight man in touch with his feminine side. 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 metrosexual icons such as David Beckham, Brad Pitt, Robbie Williams, P Diddy and George Clooney.

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Metrosexual 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. Another description can be that a metrosexual is a white 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 uprising by the beauty industry to sell expensive 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.

Metrosexual men are narcissistic in nature that is influenced by whatever they see in magazines and advertising. They tend to evaluate how they are and what they would like to be. A metrosexual male is influenced by metrosexual icons such as David Beckham and 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 best shops, clubs, gyms and hairdressers are located. They are also spending a lot of their time in front of the mirror grooming them as well as spending time at boutiques, bars, clubs and beauty salons. Cosmetic makers have reported a large surge in their sales due to the emergence of a new male market. They have reported a double digit growth in the male cosmetics range. The male grooming industry 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 market emerging for male health and grooming. Recent figures in America have shown that the market for plastic surgery for men has doubled over the last five years while the market for men’s hair dyes have increased from 18 million to over 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 million pounds in 2003. Men are obsessed with their looks and are focused on maintaining their bodies to make sure they have the perfect height, stomach, chest and hair. Experts believe that men are more pressurized to look good then they did five years ago. There was a time when certain grooming products were seen as taboo. Its been noted that men are now actively taking an interest in their appearance by going to hairdressers, using proper skin care products (So that their skin isn’t damaged) and visiting the gym instead of playing sports. The beauty market for men are worth over $6 billion dollars in the U.S. currently while it’s worth around $3.8 billion in Europe. Metrosexual are no less than style obsessed gay men and fashion obsessed women, as they all need products to make them feel better. The media used to use skinny women to promote insecurity amongst women regarding physical appearance. Men weren’t affected by images from media until the metrosexual concept was born and men were affected so dramatically. The number of men who are self-obsessed is growing every day. There are more and more men every year who have started getting concerned with their looks. Experts believe that an average of 1 out of every 10 males suffer from an eating disorder of some kind so that they are able to compete with the images they see in the media. This makes them fall short of social standards and can cause additional problems such as low self-esteem and depression. This problem which used to affect women for years earlier has now become an issue for males. Men nowadays believe that they will be more successful in life if they are beautiful and well groomed. They believe that this will help them achieve power, money and fame just like it did for David Beckham. In simple words, preoccupation with one’s looks has a lot to do with simple economics and the fact that a person would like to come out on top. There has also been a change at the workplace as working men have become more conscious of their appearance. They have to dress well, take care of their body and groom themselves well in order to compete in the cut throat work environment. Men who are well groomed and attractive have an edge over their competitors in the job market. It is felt that the fashion awareness in men is a result of social aptitude and success and are due to the dynamics of a capitalist society.

This new market has prompted fashion chains to launching men only ranges in order to cater to their needs. It has also prompted men’s magazines to devote more space to male fashion so that they can get more ad revenue. The market for male fashion, skin care and vanity has matured to include men of all sexualities and is a far cry from the state it was in twenty years ago when it was only thought of catering to the gay market. The ultimate metrosexual icon is David Beckham who is solely responsible for changing male behavior. Experts believe that Beckham has broken the boundaries of the masculine code and has experimented with clothes which men would not dare wear. He has posed for a number of gay magazines wearing sarongs and nail polish. It is not a big deal for him to be admired by both men and women.

According to Diana Crane, it has been noted that throughout history men have been adopting elements of feminine dressing. She points out the case of well to do men in the nineteenth century who would dress themselves in an eccentric manner which was associated with the feminine dress code. The modern counterpart of these Victorian men are now associated with popular culture which dictates advertising, film, television and popular music.

Experts claim that Metrosexuality has been promoted by men’s style magazines such as the Face, GQ, Esquire, Arena, and FHM by promoting images of self-absorbed models for men to gawk at. There is a sharp contrast from the times when magazines such as Maxim and FHM did not devote much space to male fashion. Crane feels that this was the case because man who is considered masculine does not need to care about his appearance, because masculinity is not considered to be a function of appearance” Crane, p.179.

No one is sure if it was the Male magazines which ushered in an era where males were preoccupied with fashion and styling or if it was man’s shift towards femininity and fashion which contributed to the rise of magazines and the promotion of the metrosexual in the media. There used to be an image of masculinity in the media which was represented by images of men who were the perfect epitome of the male body, heterosexual with proper relationships with women, had manly jobs and held the role of patriarch in the family. These images are no appealing for men’s products.

The media is responsible for exploiting Metrosexuality and blurring the lines between the construction and capitalization of Metrosexuality. This might confuse people about gender, masculinity and femininity. Metrosexuality is known to be the birth of a new cultural revolution where masculinity has evolved to great heights. It is believed issues such as the equality between the sexes as well as acceptance of gay culture and focus on male bodies has allowed men to have more choices in their lives.

Critics feel that Metrosexuality is a conspiracy by the fashion and magazine industry to get young men to buy expensive branded clothes and skin care products. They can cite the example of the famous Calvin Klein Underwear ads in the mid-90s before the advent of Metrosexuality. Mark Wahlberg (then known as Marky Mark) became the body of . This ad was targeted towards the gay market but ended up snagging a lot of the heterosexual market. According to Khanna, Metrosexual men are described to be muscular but suave, confident yet image-conscious, assertive yet clearly in touch with their feminine sides” (Khanna). It had been rather difficult for advertisers to reach metrosexual men and cater to their needs. The famous Calvin Klein ad featuring Marky Mark took everyone by storm as it showed that men could be sexual and have feminine qualities to them. A current day example of metrosexual icons is David Beckham. Beckham has both commercial and psychological appeal. He has earned millions of dollars for sponsoring fashion accessories. His style has influenced millions of males around the world and encouraged them to aspire to the same level of corporate sponsored exhibitionism. According to Turner, people are bombarded with stereotypical images of attractive people in the media every day. This factor exposes them to body types which make sensitive beings more conscious about their bodies and compare themselves to unrealistic media images of thinness and muscularity. (Turner et al., 1997). (Lorenzen, Grieve, and Thomas).

The movement for Metrosexuality began in the late nineties when a trend emerged to portray men as sexual commodified bodies. This new change in advertising prompted the straight male to worry about his image as much as a female would do. A male started using skin care products, getting manicures and facials, using different health care products etc. The reason why David Beckham is the hottest metrosexual around is that he keeps experimenting with his appearance. He has great looks, a new hairstyle every time, a huge wardrobe of clothes, talent, personality, a great family man, style, is charitable and very kind. These factors have endeared him to many and made him the idol for millions of men.


The boundaries between men and women have started to blur as metrosexual males have become too concerned with their looks. They have always had power and want to get more while looking good at the same time. The metrosexual man is more sensitive, self-aware and conscious of his looks. The media is responsible for creating this new problem, which is spinning out of control and shows no signs of disappearing soon.


Lorenzen, Lisa a., Frederick G. Grieve, and Adrian Thomas. “Exposure to Muscular Male Models Decreases Men’s Body Satisfaction.” Sex Roles: A Journal of Research (2004): 743+.

Khanna, Parag. “The Metrosexual Superpower: The Stylish European Union Struts Past the Bumbling United States on the Catwalk of Global Diplomacy.” . (2004): 66+

Crane, Diana. Fashion and its Social Agendas: Class, Gender, and Identity in Clothing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000

Simpson, Mark. Meet the Metrosexual. 22 July 2002.