The (metro) sexual revolution

Men no longer shunning their sensitive sides

By Kimberly E. Mock

Photo Illustration by Allen Sullivan
   He decks out in designer duds, uses a dermatologist-tailored skin care line and keeps his hair stylishly disheveled with a dose of pomade and ravishing highlights.
   And get this, he's heterosexual.
   For the straight, urban male, the days of shopping off-the-rack, spending $5 on a haircut and cleansing with a quick lather of hand soap are fast disappearing.
   Instead, urban-minded males are hitting department stores and salons for pedicures, manicures and even makeup to achieve the Holy Grail of all aesthetics: looking great.
   ''I think there's always been an interest for guys in taking care of themselves,'' said Diana Gilliard, owner of the City Salon and Spa in Athens.
   Gilliard said the number of men seeking hair color and pampering services at her Athens salon has grown in recent years, and now includes everyone from young hipsters experimenting with edgy hair colors to dads in their thirties looking to lose a little gray.
Metrosexual (met.roh.SEK.shoo.ul) n. An urban male with a strong aesthetic sense who spends a great deal of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle. -metrosexuality n.

Aside from concerns about aging, Gilliard said she thinks the trend is in part due to changing attitudes about masculinity: It's more socially acceptable for men to indulge now than even a decade ago.
   ''One thing that's happened is it's been more OK for a guy to get a manicure or a pedicure,'' Gilliard said. ''For some reason, for so long it's been considered effeminate (for a guy to be interested in grooming).''
   Gilliard said men usually start off with a few haircuts before dabbling in hair color or other spa services, including waxing.
   But what's happening at City Salon isn't just a reflection of what's happening in Athens but across the U.S., as young urban males and even aging baby boomers say yes to spas, high-end products and other grooming services.
   These men even have a quirky nickname: Metrosexuals, or straight, urban men who invest in traditionally female grooming habits and interests.
   Who or what is a metrosexual?
   He's the man who you see getting a manicure at a local salon, the dude next door who sports a mohawk and a Gucci business suit, the man you witness re-emerge stylish and cultured after the ''Queer Eye for the Straight Guy'' squad works its magic.
   Famous metrosexuals include Brad Pitt, David Beckham and P. Diddy; men known for spending big on their wardrobes, trendy haircuts and grooming services.
   The growing number of average Joes taking part in this trend even has spawned new lines within the grooming products sector.
   Avant garde fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier recently introduced a pricey skin care line. Grooming products also can be found at the department store counters from establishments like Clinique and Kiehl's as well as from drugstore lines like Nivea.

Photo Illustration by Allen Sullivan
Jose Comenge, a California-based endocrinologist, recently introduced BioTexture, a skin care line for men sold in high-end department stores and online.
   BioTexture products are touted as ''cosmeceuticals'' or as Comenge explains, ''something between cosmetic and pharmaceutical products''.
   ''We are, in fact, the first, anti-aging skin care line for men,'' he said.
   Comenge said the trend to look good is in part due to our work lives, which often require us to look good no matter what our age.
   ''We all need to work longer in our lives,'' Comenge said. ''Today people have to work longer and have longer professional lives than their parents did. They have to look good, they have to look younger.''

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Thursday, February 5, 2004.
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