Are men becoming too metrosexual?

BEVERLY PARUNGAO
Last updated 09:25 06/12/2013
Metrosexual
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SOCIAL PRESSURES: Men are bombarded with images of 'the ideal' just as much as women.

Metrosexual
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STRAIGHT TALKER: LA Clippers basketballer DeAndre Jordan considers his favourite shampoo a 'manly pink.'

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The metrosexual man no longer shies away from divulging his secrets to looking good. In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, members of the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the US revealed their respective hair and skin-care regimens.

DeAndre Jordan, a 2.1-metre player for the Los Angeles Clippers, uses Secret, a female deodorant that keeps him "powder-fresh" during games, all while keeping his jersey free of that annoying visible white residue.

Off court, Jordan's choice of shampoo and conditioner is Herbal Essences. Though pink, Jordan considers it a "manly pink".

Then there's Amar'e Stoudemire, the New York Knicks forward, who moisturises using Bath & Body Works' Stress Relief eucalyptus-and-spearmint-scented body lotion, but only before washing his face with Dove soap.

With such prominent male athletes openly discussing their skin and hair routines, it's no wonder the manscaping trend continues to rise.

But today, men's concern for their appearance goes beyond mere quick fix solutions to their hair and skin. Changes to their appearance are becoming more permanent, prompting the question, has metrosexuality gone too far?

In the US, cosmetic procedures for men increased by 22 per cent from 2002 to the end of 2012, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons says.

Dr Michael Rich from the enRich Clinic in Melbourne, Australia says just under 25 per cent of his clients are men.

Mark Simpson is a writer who coined the term metrosexual in the mid-'90s to describe heterosexual men who spend a lot of time and money on their appearance.

In his book Metrosexy, Simpson argues that metrosexuality is now the mainstream.

He says that men's growing concern for their appearance is largely because "we're living in a visual, looking glass culture of selfies, Facebook, Twitter, reality TV and Men's Health covers."

"Metrosexuality represents men adapting to this new world order - men can't just 'act' any more; they have to 'appear' too, to be looked at," Simpson says.

Male cosmetic surgery is now part of this metrosexual movement.

"The male body has become a living work of art," Simpson says.

And the canvass comes in different forms.

Rich has observed that men from all walks of life - tradesmen, builders, chief executives and lawyers - are now going under the knife.

"Men from all types of socio-groups are aware and want to look better and improve the way they look and feel about themselves," Rich says.

"It is not frowned on by the community any more. They have decided it is just as important for a man as a woman to want to improve the way he looks if he wants."

Lyons says the most popular minimally invasive procedures include soft tissue fillers, botox, laser hair removal, microdermabrasion and chemical peels.

The common major surgical procedures are "otoplasty surgery, for prominent ears, rhinoplasty for nasal reshaping, and eyelid surgery for excess skin".

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But in their quest to be "looked at", have men become too feminised?

Dr Darryl Hodgkinson, a cosmetic surgeon at the Cosmetic and Restorative Surgery Clinic, says: "We are definitely not feminising men; I think most women are very happy that real men do have cosmetic surgery, that they are caring about their appearance and trying to look young and vital for their partner."

Yet Simpson says, "Quite a few women say that they find a man who spends longer than them in the bathroom - which probably means just as long as them - a turn-off."

But perhaps there's more to embrace in this new breed of man. Metrosexuality may not be just skin deep. Simpson says men are not only better turned out, more worked-out, sensual creatures, but also more independent and self-maintaining.

"They might spend forever in the bathroom but they are much more likely to be able to operate a cooker or washing machine and even buy their own underwear," Simpson says.

This may not be such a bad trade-off these days, when women may be working while their partners are at home looking after the kids.

As for the squabbles over the bathroom?

"The only hope for heterosexuality is double en-suite bathrooms."

- Sydney Morning Herald

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