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I Believe in Miracles – Where You from, You Sexy Thing

Metrosexuals Come Out

“The guy who drinks Grey Goose is willing to pay extra,” said Lee Einsidler, executive vice president of Sydney Frank Importing, which owns Grey Goose. “He does it in all things in his life. He doesn’t buy green beans, he buys haricots verts”

Um, I believe the next sentence goes like this: “He doesn’t just annoy his friends, he hagrides* them.” For the uninitiated, a “metrosexual” is a straight man who pampers himself with luxury products, pays nearly-obsessive attention to his clothes and personal grooming, and cultivates admiring attention from both genders. I first heard of this term in Salon.com‘s article Meet the Metrosexual. That article focused on David Beckham (late of Manchester United and now part of Real Madrid) who, in addition to being one of the best footballers around, apparently also paints his fingernails, braids his hair, poses for the gay press, and occasionally wears his wife’s (you know her – Posh Spice) panties as well. “Becks,” the article argued, is an unabashed metrosexual.

Per Salon.com, Abercrombie & Fitch, although not expensive enough or stylish enough to be worn by the purest form of the metrosexual, may represent the metrosexual’s influence on Middle America and mall culture. Can anyone who’s ever perused an A&F flesh magazine, er, I mean, catalogue, really deny this hypothesis? Can any advertising agency afford to ignore the metrosexuals of the world?

Remember, though – Metrosexuals are straight. Why? Because common wisdom says a metrosexual who isn’t straight isn’t a metrosexual – he’s just a gay guy (see the character of Brian in Showtime’s Queer as Folk). And as we all know, gay guys are supposed to care about how they look. Gay guys are supposed to know what high thread count means to bed linens. Gay guys are supposed to have visible abdominal muscles. Never mind that this is a gross generalization that denies the real lives and individuality of many gay men. In advertising and pop culture, everybody has to have niche.

You know, I started this post out meaning to be a little snarky about the whole metrosexual phenomenon and then just to move on. Just a post on the kind of random sub-news that we at Mirandala.org pride ourselves on being able to find. I find myself now wondering about other issues. I’m wondering whether the “metrosexual” phenomenon isn’t just another way for straight people to allow themselves to participate in non-traditional gender-role activities and preferences – all the while making sure that gay people (gay men specifically in this case) remain as The Other. It’s all very well and good to sell Clinique for Men or Diesel jeans or Hugo Boss jackets at outrageous prices to well-groomed straight men, as long as you don’t suggest that those men might be (horrors!) gay. Actually, now that I think about it, the kind of men who can afford Clinique for Men and Diesel jeans and Hugo Boss jackets probably wouldn’t care if you thought they were gay – as long as you were thinking about them at all. I suppose it’s the men and boys who buy Abercrombie & Fitch clothes who concern me. A&F is so clearly using iconic gay images and gay subtext in its marketing and advertising – and yet is also clearly marketing to a very heterosexual teen and young adult demographic. Will A&F’s straight male customers grow up at ease with their sexuality and comfortable accepting admiration from men and women? Or are they buying A&F’s packaged narcissism without gaining any appreciation for what it truly means to be objectified? Are they buying A&F’s homoeroticism without being forced to let go of their own homophobia?

* Hagride: ‘hag-“rId. (v) – to harass, to torment. (yeah, yeah, I know it’s one of those 18th century misogynistic words – but it’s kind of a cool one, don’tcha think?)

[Hot Chocolate lyrics=1]

{ 5 } Comments

  1. Kris | June 24, 2003 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm. I had posted a link to this NYT article without thinking much about it. But you may be right. This trend, such as it is, allows straight men to dabble in the conventions of male homosexuality, while gay men still have to remain in their corner as the metrosexuals crowd in. I don’t see the Times and Salon writing stories on nontraditional or nonstereotypical homos.

  2. M | June 24, 2003 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    And if they do write stories about non-stereotypical gays then they’re written with all this built-in drama – like the reporter’s all pleased that s/he has just identified a species of homosexual not usually found in nature. “Look! Observe the clean-shaven lesbian as she shops for uncomfortable shoes…”

  3. Brandon | June 25, 2003 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    You might also want to check out a new show I have seen advertised (not sure which cable network) called “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”, which, if I get the gist of it from their commercials is about a group of gay men who go around and give makeovers (is it called that for men?) to straight men. in essence the metrosexual phenomenon…

  4. Mirandala | June 25, 2003 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Good god. The world is going insane! Not, mind you, that I don’t know a few straight men who could use a makeover. Queerover? (you excluded, of course, Brandon)

  5. Karru | June 28, 2003 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    Actually, no self respecting “metrosexual” (a very general marketing term at best) would be caught in A&F . . . and style without substance is not the metrosexual way.

    Thanks for picking up the article — I’m the guy in it — so it is always fun to see other people’s take on it. Needless to say, I’m getting plenty of ribbing about it.

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