An urban male with a strong aesthetic sense who spends a great deal of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle.
At dinner the other night, my date listed the calorie count of the main entrees, raising an eyebrow at my chicken Alfredo selection after he had ordered a salad. I saw him check his reflection in the silver water pitcher three times. During dessert, he looked deeply into my eyes and told me he thought what we have together is very special. It was our third date.
It was then that I realized why my dating life has been as mysterious as the Bermuda Triangle since I arrived in Washington. This city, unlike any other place I've lived, is a haven for the metrosexual. A metrosexual, in case you didn't catch any of several newspaper articles about this developing phenomenon (or the recent "South Park" episode on Comedy Central), is a straight man who styles his hair using three different products (and actually calls them "products"), loves clothes and the very act of shopping for them, and describes himself as sensitive and romantic. In other words, he is a man who seems stereotypically gay except when it comes to sexual orientation.
Alexa Hackbarth, "Vanity, Thy Name Is Metrosexual," The Washington Post, November 17, 2003
The typical metrosexual is a young man with money to spend, living in or within easy reach of a metropolis because that's where all the best shops, clubs, gyms and hairdressers are. He might be officially gay, straight or bisexual, but this is utterly immaterial because he has clearly taken himself as his own love object and pleasure as his sexual preference. Particular professions, such as modeling, waiting tables, media, pop music and, nowadays, sport, seem to attract them but, truth be told, like male vanity products and herpes, they're pretty much everywhere.
Mark Simpson, "Meet the metrosexual," Salon.com, July 22, 2002
The promotion of metrosexuality was left to the men's style press, magazines such as The Face, GQ, Esquire, Arena and FHM, the new media which took off in the Eighties and is still growing (GQ gains 10,000 new readers every month). They filled their magazines with images of narcissistic young men sporting fashionable clothes and accessories. And they persuaded other young men to study them with a mixture of envy and desire.
Some people said unkind things. American GQ, for example, was popularly dubbed ''Gay Quarterly''. Little wonder that all these magazines with the possible exception of The Face address their metrosexual readership as if none of them were homosexual or even bisexual.
Mark Simpson, "Here come the mirror men," The Independent, November 15, 1994
A metrosexual is a clotheshorse wrapped around a dandy fused with a narcissist. Like soccer star David Beckham, who has been known to paint his fingernails, the metrosexual is not afraid to embrace his feminine side. Why "metrosexual"? The metro- (city) prefix indicates this man's purely urban lifestyle, while the -sexual suffix comes from "homosexual," meaning that this man, although he is usually straight, embodies the heightened aesthetic sense often associated with certain types of gay men.
Mark Simpson invented this term in 1994 (see the earliest citation), and it drifted slowly from one media source to another throughout the rest of 1990s and early 2000s. Then Simpson wrote another article about metrosexuals in the online magazine Salon.com on July 22, 2002, and the term took off. Since then it has been picked up by thousands of media outlets, has made numerous TV appearances, has spawned at least a couple of books, and has been dropped in untold numbers of cocktail party conversations. There is no escaping the metrosexual.
The second example citation gives Simpson's succinct description of the metrosexual type from his Salon.com article.
Aha, now I get it. I never quite understood exactly what that meant until now. It has nothing to do with a man's sexuality per se, as much as his choice of lifestyle. Being gay myself, I can see how easily the metrosexual can be mistaken for gay;he can be every bit a "queen" or a "flamer" as a gay man, yet he himself is not gay. He possesses a lot of our aesthetics and sensibilities but is not one of us.Thank you for helping me better understand that term.
Posted by James v. Jones on September 1, 2010 at 12:17 AM