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Monday, September 22, 2003
Updated: September 23, 4:46 PM ET
Nothing sexy about metrosexuals

By Stacey Pressman
Special to Page 2

metrosexual (MET.roh.sek.shoo.ul) n. A dandyish narcissist in love with not only himself, but also his urban lifestyle; a straight man who is in touch with his feminine side. ?metrosexuality n.

I love the smell of fall. There's nothing quite like October grass and crisp, clean, sweater-wearing air combined with the sweet aroma of helmets, cleats and mud. This is the smell that accompanies football season in New England. It ranks right up there with clean cotton, Mr. Sketch scented markers and freshly pumped gasoline on my list of all-time favorite smells. If Jean Paul Gauthier could bottle "Football in the Fall," I'd wear it proudly.

Are you a metrosexual?
Are you in or out? Don't know? Not sure? Take the official ESPN metrosexual test!

The question for many of you men out there: Would you?

It's been an abysmal summer of endless channel-surfing: "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" followed by "Boy Meets Boy" and "Will & Grace" re-runs. Click. Click. Revisits to last season's "Sex and the City." "Trading Spaces." "Extreme Makeover." I would venture to say that our culture is in dire need of an injection of testosterone -- not Botox.

So the last few weekends, I've been overjoyed to welcome America's premier sport and ... well, let's just say, masculine verve back to television programming. The timing couldn't be more perfect.

Recent TV depictions of the American male have him going from brawny to scrawny. It's the feminization of today's man. OK, fine, we still have Kevin James' character, Doug Heffernan, on "King of Queens." But I'm telling you, the way we're headed, he'll be the "Queen of Queens" by the end of the year.

David Beckham
Becks might be known more for his hair than his game.
America is being besieged by a dude who has been dubbed the "metrosexual" and who is gaining cultural currency by the minute. Surely you've encountered him? He's the post-makeover straight guy on "Queer Eye." He's the guy who scoffs at an $8 haircut at Supercuts and never lets anyone but Jean-Louis coiffure his locks for 36 bucks a pop. He might also be the guy who just traded in his red Saturn for the sprightly chili-red Mini Cooper.

I certainly can't speak for all women; but among my group of girlfriends, he's known as the icky dude who's in touch with his feminine side. In college, he was the Euro guy. He likes to spend $40-and-up on Kiehl's facial cream, use my loofah, get a pedicure and make creme brulee. He likes shopping and beauty products, but -- get this -- he still wants to date me and my friends!

That's it. I'm destined to live a life of loneliness and solitude.

Mark Simpson, a British writer who coined the term "metrosexual" back in 1994, wrote a fascinating article for Salon.com last year, defining this man. Simpson writes: "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."

Simpson tagged the moniker on British soccer star David Beckham, who is as famous for wearing sarongs and nail polish as he is for scoring goals.

Here in America, Madison Avenue is capitalizing on (if not spawning) this cult of self love -- tugging at your insecurities and convincing you boys into thinking you need "products" just like we women do.

Jason Sehorn
No, no, Jason ... you're the man.
Even though I can find some relief from all of this metrosexuality when I turn on a football game, I still have to watch the commercials. And I still have to see those "beautiful people" lists, which invariably include guys like Alex Rodriguez and Jason Sehorn, out of uniform and all dolled up. Maybe they aren't hawking panty hose like Joe Namath did, but it makes you wonder how they manage their "look."

I was excited to receive my 2003 San Diego Chargers Yearbook in the mail the other day ... until I came across a full-page ad for MaleFace, a line of rejuvenating moisturizers and other skin care products for men. It was endorsed this way by former Buffalo Bills defensive back Chris Hale: "The MaleFace products are fantastic, they'll be a pleasant surprise for your face."

I have a hard time hearing a man seriously say these words about male vanity products.

Metrosexuality is a cultural seed that's growing, a subculture going mainstream. I'm truly hoping this is a trend that fades in the same way grunge, hippie, and Joe Dirt hairbands have vanished from the forefront.

Metrosexuality might be the most all-encompassing lifestyle ideal -- clothes, food, decor, music -- since the punk era. The irony is that this lifestyle transformation has the exact opposite aesthetic appeal that punk does. Like punk, I'm hoping it lasts for a couple of Halloweens and then goes away.

Is metrosexuality ok?
Do you agree with Stacey? Should men toughen up or is this newfound femininity a long time coming? Sound off!
Send us your opinion!

Some people have asked me why I find the metrosexual man so unappealing.

That's like asking why I don't like tomatoes and cucumbers. The simple answer is: I just don't.

I liken the metrosexual to the female body builder. While there is nothing wrong with a woman who is healthy and physically fit, who works out and builds muscle mass, there is something aesthetically unappealing when taken to the extreme. She looks masculine. To me, all of the lifestyle characteristics of the metrosexual man make him look feminine.

Frankly, I'm done with the back-and-crack-waxing-salon-spa guy. Does America really need to see all of this "manscaping?" What's wrong with a good old-fashioned manly man? One who doesn't know the difference between mauve and taupe, and who won't refer to his wardrobe as "couture." Heck, I'll take him color-blind.

To me, there is something endearing about a man with wrinkled khakis, the kind that signifies, "I'm not too perfect." You boys can have your Armani and Gucci man boutiques. You can strive for overpriced perfection. I'll find the Armani guy. Only he'll be on a TJ Maxx rack with a tag dangling off him that reads "slightly irregular." Any savvy shopper knows there's nothing wrong with a faint quirk. It's called a good deal.

Jason Giambi
Did playing in The House that Ruth Built have anything to do with Mr. Giambi's look? You be the judge.
A fashionably clueless man needs me to tell him that his paisley tie with the ketchup stain might look better on him than the Garcia tie with the barbeque sauce. It creates levity in a relationship. And those dreaded nose hairs, don't worry, I'll get them. Fab 5, leave him alone, I'll work on him. He's my project. Don't you know that's part of the fun for some of us women?

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for sensitivity. I'm perfectly fine with the salmon shirt and the between-you-and-me admission of your affinity for Rick Astley's music. But as far I'm concerned, the only person who's supposed to use the $26 bottle of 'Bumble and Bumble' shampoo and fret over hair ... is me. For you? It's 'Pert Plus All in One' in your grimy green bottle, on sale for $3.49 at CVS.

If you guys really want to get in touch with your feminine side, how about digging a little deeper than the narcissistically obvious: cosmetics and clothing? How about choosing three more virtuous female traits, say, nurturing, sensitivity and breast-feeding? At least you'd be helping us out.

I'm not sure I could handle being that girl! The one who's watching sports on Sundays while her significant other is trying to decide which fruity exfoliant will work best on his skin as his casserole bakes.

More on men
Can't get enough of men? Check out these links:
  • Metros photo gallery
  • Non-metros photo gallery
  • Mike & Mike on metros
  • Me: "Honey, did you see that perfectly-executed Bledsoe flea-flicker? If only Josh Reed could keep his hands on it!"

    Him: "No, but smell this new hand cream I just bought. What do you think? Too much jasmine?"

    I'm all set. Game over. Thanks for playing.

    Call me crazy but I don't ever want to hear my boyfriend utter the word "jasmine," unless he's apologizing for something he did with a stripper.

    I recognize that I cross over into the male stereotype when I embrace football. But at least I'm able to retain my femininity while I do it. I appreciate the game. I am not trying to convince Marty Schottenheimer to insert me into his "cat" defense. Just remember that the next time you're eyeballing my loofah hanging in the shower. I certainly am aware that male vanity is here to stay, but you can still use a washcloth (or nothing) and a simple bar of Zest. It won't kill you.

    I really hope I'm not alone in this. And I hope the rest of the country is just as starved for a resurgence of masculinity. Mind you, this is not a call for a return to Bill Romanowski-brand, loincloth barbarism. But there is something to be said for masculine vigor, verve and fortitude, and maybe even a little endearing fashion cluelessness -- all traits that have been placed on pop culture's endangered species list recently.

    Football may just be the answer.

    Stacey Pressman is a freelance producer for ESPN and a contributing writer to Page 2 and "The Jump" at ESPN The Magazine. She can be reached at StaceyPressman@aol.com.