Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture

I stumbled across this old article on Salon.com this morning while I was busy, uh, "researching," and it's got me thinking. Check it out: "Meet the Metrosexual"

An early exposition on the whole phenomenon of metrosexuality, it was published nearly five years ago, which of course is practically ancient in the online media world. But nonetheless, I can't help finding it wildly fascinating, especially in this post-Queer-Eye world where Becks of the painted nails and sarong skirt is preparing to move to LA and make a splash in the US, with Posh and the Little Becks in tow.

The author, apparently a gay Brit named Mark Simpson, nails a lot of the hairy (no pun intended) points of queer theory and a lot of the thinking that's been done about the changing face of masculinity in the wake of the increasing narcissism and vanity wrought by the whole metrosexual phenomenon. He manages to tie together Spider Man, anal sex and Fight Club, while at the same time dropping a few references to commodification and materialism, all the while coming back to Becks in the end. Um, I love you, Mark Simpson?

Five years later, though, it's interesting and a little bit sad to me to see how pervasive the whole metrosexual thing has become. I know in some ways it's past time that the whole obsession with appearance and "being seen" extends beyond the female realm, but I have to say, it makes my heart sink a little bit to think about how much that emphasis has bled into the ever-evolving definition of masculinity. There was, and is, something so refreshing about the men in my life who were raised not to care how they looked, how they smelled, whether their hair product was applied correctly, or whether their shoes matched their Nick Lachey button-down shirt.

Even though as women we have been raised for generations to think that the most important thing about us is how we look, not what we think or do or believe, some part of me likes to think that most men have stereotypically been raised not just to be "seen," but to DO. And so, some part of this "spreading the vanity wealth" thing makes me feel hollow and sad deep down in my gut. I don't want to believe that a new popularity in men's spas or men's facials or men's hair products is progress; wouldn't it be nicer if we all got a little LESS vain and a little more concerned with who we are outside of our hair gel or the brand of our jeans? You know; be raw, be real, be a little less fabricated, a little less artificial, a little less contrived, and more honest, more true, more right-there-in-the-moment real.

So, if my two cents mean anything, I say: ditch the cologne and the wax and just be real, o' strapping boys of my youth! Abercrombie and Fitch won't miss you in the least.


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