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What is a Metrosexual?

Michael Pollick
Updated Mar 06, 2024
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A number of musicians working in the 1970s and 1980s, such as glam rocker David Bowie or Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes, often spent hours before appearances applying heavy make-up and hair styling products to achieve an androgynous look on stage. This practice of heterosexual men affecting certain aspects of a feminine or homosexual lifestyle eventually earned the moniker of metrosexual. A metrosexual is said to be a straight man in touch with his feminine side, especially when it comes to personal grooming and appearance.

A homosexual British journalist is often credited with putting the term "metrosexual" in print first, but others have claimed usage since the 1980s. At first, a metrosexual was considered to be a heterosexual man who affected certain homosexual mannerisms, but later the term described any straight male who invested heavily in skin care products, colognes, male cosmetics and fashionable clothing. A modern metrosexual may not exhibit any homosexual mannerisms at all, and indeed is often considered to be extremely masculine.

There are a number of entertainers and sports figures who are routinely described as being metrosexual. The British soccer star David Beckham is often considered to be one of the ultimate metrosexual role models today. While Beckham's sexuality is rarely in doubt, he is said to spend a considerable amount of time on his personal appearance, often employing the services of professional facialists and fashion stylists. Other high profile celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Ryan Seacrest and George Clooney have also been associated with the metrosexual lifestyle over the years, although some are not comfortable with that reputation.

A metrosexual lifestyle does not have to be quite as extravagant, however. A number of heterosexual men are now becoming more involved in the care and maintenance of their skin and hair. The average man can now visit a local salon for facial treatments or use advanced hair styling products without the fear of being labeled less than masculine. There are also versions of make-up and even fingernail polishes marketed towards the metrosexual population.

There has been a cultural backlash against the metrosexual movement, however. Men who have embraced their inner alpha male and pay little attention to their personal appearance are now described as retrosexual. Actors such as Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell as often described as retrosexual, since they have been known to remain unshaven between roles and exemplify very masculine lifestyles.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to PublicPeople, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Discussion Comments

By anon133729 — On Dec 11, 2010

I have always been led to believe that a "metro-sexual" male is in fact "heterosexual", and not gay whatsoever! However the difference between "hetero/homo" is that "metro males" do exhibit ("some" "known to be")a "gay" action of kissing other men or wearing a pink shirt as a fashion statement and aren't afraid of a "gay" label, and also do not live a "gay" lifestyle. I hope this helps to understand any questions you may have had!

By anon130595 — On Nov 29, 2010

In fact Metrosexual may have nothing to do with "gay" at all. I known and seen many men who buy fancy makeups and skin cared products that would probably place your mom or grandma's cosmetic collection to shame, not to mention very picky about exposing themselves to outside elements like the sun or rain. So are they considered "Gayish"?

Also, believe it or not, I have a former classmate in during college who has a distinctive taste in clothing and dressing in general. He wears pink shirts (sometimes even a Hello Kitty t-shirt) and pink bags with flash stuff all around. He even confessed he's has a bit of interest in wearing a skirt. however I can vouch he's straight as hell, probably even more than most men I meet.

I think they really into elaborating on the term, but this often is confusing which can lead to question one's sexuality.

By anon122933 — On Oct 30, 2010

No these men are straight, they are only attracted to women, but they like to look good, and if that means putting on a bit of make up or eye liner so be it, but they're not gay. People just assume that if they put a bit of make up on they're immediately gay.

By christym — On Jul 15, 2010

@alex94: No, being metrosexual does not mean that a man is gay. Many men enjoy dressing up and staying up to date on fashion and they are very straight men. Some people define metrosexual as “a straight man in touch with his feminine side”. I think that it is a straight man that has an excellent sense of fashion and is very cultured. David Beckham, for example, has been called metrosexual and he is surely not gay. These are different times and it’s okay for a man to wear a pink shirt and get pedicures and manicures.

By alex94 — On Jul 15, 2010

Are metrosexual men normally gay or want to be gay?

Michael Pollick

Michael Pollick

As a frequent contributor to PublicPeople, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide...
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