BY MPHO KUHLMANN
The battle lines in the war of the sexes have been draw eon years ago: Women spent ages in front of the mirror preening themselves while the man paced the floor impatiently after a rushed shave-shower-deo-and-you-are-done-in-10-minutes-routine.
Now the lines have been redrawn. Couples are fighting for time in front of the mirror as the male getting ready syndrome has gotten a makeover for the urban man hoping to look urbane. This is all thanks to the birth of the metrosexual men. This is not a missing “M”from the LGBT acronym, but a new breed of men who are in touch with their feminine side while decidedly straight.
Metrosexual is a portmanteau of metropolitan and heterosexual, coined in 1994 describing a man who is especially meticulous about his grooming and appearance, typically spending a significant amount of time and money on shopping as part of this
He’s been defined as a straight, sensitive, well-educated, urban dweller who may have a standing appointment for a weekly manicure, may wear jewelry, and his bathroom counter is most likely filled with male-targeted grooming products. This is an emerging wave of men who go against the restrictions of traditional male roles and who do what they want, buy what they want, and enjoy what they want – regardless of whether some people might consider these things unmanly.
Wedu Montsho, one half of the design duo, Didah Designs says, “In my opinion a metrosexual man is a man who is well kempt and not afraid to look and dress well. It is a man who is fashion conscious and likes to be on trend. A man who WANTS to look good. Metrosexual men are often considered gay because they are hugely fashion conscious and in African culture monna gaa betlwe which loosely translates to men are expected to look scruffy and unkempt. As a fashion designer, I have a lot of men come in for custom design pieces but it’s not a usual occurrence to get a man who knows exactly what they want in terms of what to wear and we usually change their perception by exposing them to the looks they generally are uncomfortable with like wearing a floral blazer and they get to see that it is not bad after all, i sometimes use myself as a muse which makes it more relatable.”
Dr Sethunya Mosime, senior Sociology lecturer at the University Of Botswana says, “Today, as much freedom women have in terms of fashion and beauty, men have equal rights. They are allowed to take care of their skin and hair. And have equal freedom to look good and dress fashionably, and be conscious about what to wear and how to present themselves. There is absolutely no reason for men to not love fashion. After all, it is fashion we’re talking about. And it never ever hurts to take care of yourself whether you’re a man or a woman. There are a number of ways you can identify a metrosexual man. It might the way they dress almost every day. Or how they smell so good and have the perfect hair and nails on a daily basis. Men are paying more attention these days, they’re getting more particular. They are paying attention to fabrics and how they feel. They want to look like they care (about their appearance). Guys are really making a fashion statement. Men are even taking back the responsibility of grooming themselves, no longer needing the women in their lives to pick out their clothes and prod them to shower.”
Social expectation is pressuring contemporary men to want to look better and stay vibrant. Men are seeking to improve their appearance, through body movement, body decoration, hair and clothes. It is now a social norm to be fashionable. Changing attitudes and dress down casual Friday in social settings also contributes to men’s consumption of grooming products.
Thapelo Letsebe a popular Gaborone stars’ stylist says ” an absolutely bold and unapologetic man who does what he wants as far as fashion wise and grooming wise is concerned is a metrosexual man and that is the new breed of man. They don’t care how they are viewed instead they relish and shine in that. You can identify a metrosexual man by one that carries a man bag or one that has perfectly clean manicured nails or anything that is regarded as feminine. I honestly think that people who refer to metrosexual men as gays have issues themselves, they might be secretly gay themselves. In the past we have always known women to take care of themselves -go for facials and be conscious about they apply to their skin, go for massages, go in for manicures and pedicures. I can confidently say the narrative has changed nowadays, we are in an era where men choose to be clean, choose to take a little more interest in the clothes they dress in, choose to have short clean nails, choose to smell nice etc Majority of my clients that I style are metrosexual men who love looking and feeling good. I think there’s a connotation attached to metrosexual men that they should be feminine. A lot of my clients are staunch manly men but they also enjoy taking care of themselves.
As women are becoming more empowered, in the competitive workplace, men are concerned and consume grooming products to keep up with the expectation. People’s perception towards the term “metrosexual” differs greatly. Some people view metrosexual as men who are fashion-style sensitive, mirror-obsessed, and also pamper and moisturize themselves through the consumption of grooming products .Others perceive metrosexual as urban men who have high income and spend a great deal of time on his appearance and lifestyle, and engage to the feminine side.