What ever happened to all those metrosexuals that were so ubiquitous in the 90's? A catchy neologism derived from the words "metropolitan" and "heterosexual," the term "metrosexual" perfectly captured the consumerism and aesthetic of the decade. It came to be associated with straight men like David Beckham, George Clooney, and even former President Bill Clinton, who were seen as embodiments of the new millennium man.
Like most popular trends, advertisers were quick to exploit and cash in on the metrosexual phenomenon. Companies launched gorilla marketing campaigns targeting this previously untapped demographic, who had disposable income and were willing to spend it. However, metrosexuals were more than just consumers, they were sexual revolutionaries, albeit unorthodox ones.
While the term came to be associated with straight men, in reality metrosexuals were never so easy to categorize. The typical metrosexual was far more in love with himself than he was with another man or woman. There was a strong dose of narcissism associated with the metrosexual man, who, freed from preconceptions of what it meant to be a man, could be... well, just metrosexual. A metrosexual was just as comfortable debating the sartorial merits of Giorgio Armani or Tom Ford as he was speculating as to whether the Cowboys would likely make the play-offs that year. In other words metrosexual men challenged masculine conventions: what Ronald Levant, Ed.D., a specialist in the field of gender studies, characterizes as men's tendencies toward "avoidance of femininity; restricted emotions, sex disconnected from intimacy; pursuits of achievement and status; self-reliance; strength and aggression; and homophobia."
Although metrosexual men were not responsible for bringing about the new gender revolution, they certainly succeeded in encapsulating much of it. While the term has fallen out of vogue, many of the changes associated with the metrosexual movement have survived. Fortunately, from my perspective, the post-metrosexual man is left with a more dynamic understanding of his masculine identity and has far more options in how he chooses to express it.
Tyger Latham, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist practicing in Washington, DC. He counsels individuals and couples and has a particular interest in sexual trauma, gender development, and LGBT concerns. His blog, Therapy Matters, explores the art and science of psychotherapy.