Confessions of a metrosexual — Personal preferences don’t require the approval of others

My hair has a slight greasiness to it. That’s probably the least attractive way to put it, but it’s true. As a matter of fact that’s the way I like it. I even spend $20 every month to keep it that way. It’s called pomade, and every day I spend precious minutes of my early morning meticulously combing it into my hair. I do this because when I don’t, my hair looks like the fur of a Chernobyl area bear that is suffering from some  serious genetic mutation. In short, it looks awful, and it never really seemed very strange to me that I would take steps to prevent this from being seen by others, especially by members of the opposite sex. And yet, I recently discovered I was committing, in fact, a “metrosexual act”.

This revelation didn’t occur in a moment, but instead it slowly creeped into my mind until I began to accept it. The first sign was when I went back home to get my haircut, I asked the barber (who had been cutting my hair for five years) if I could buy some pomade from him. That’s when I discovered not only had he run out of the product, but that he also decided to stop restocking the stuff after I went off to college, as I was one of two people who ever purchased it.

Sam Balas

I considered this an anomaly, until one day my girlfriend flat out told me my pomade habits were among the reasons as to why she considered me to be one of the most metrosexual people she had ever met.

But what does this really mean? If anything, it gives insight into the fascinating modern culture behind sexual attraction as well as how society feels the need to place labels upon any sort of behavior that even slightly deviates from the norm.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “metrosexual” as “a usually urban male given to enhancing his personal appearance by fastidious grooming, beauty treatments and fashionable clothes.”

While on the surface, the concept of metrosexuality operates under the idea that everyone cares about how they look, beyond that, it’s also a way to question the masculinity of men who happen to partake in behaviors that are often associated with femininity.

Why should it be weird for me, as a man, to enjoy shopping for clothes? Is it weird to want to impress others or care about my appearance?

Like most labels, branding the “metrosexual” places people into boxes that don’t accurately represent who they are.

As an Idaho native, I shoot guns, hike in the woods and play sports just as much as the next guy, but because I spend fifteen minutes a day picking a coordinated outfit, my masculinity is called into question. While the “metrosexual” label doesn’t personally offend me, it does draw to light a larger societal problem — that people who break stereotypical gender roles need special labels, so everyone knows they don’t quite fit “the mold.”

While the modern era, the era of an over-analytical and judgmental entertainment of “E Entertainment” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” has accentuated a culture of caring how other grown adults spend their time, the foundational problem behind labels like “metrosexual” has almost always existed. People are often made uncomfortable when individuals go against societal standards, but the reality is, all humans are complicated and no one person falls into any one box.

Rather than caring about what people think or labeling others for the things they enjoy, regardless of what gender they identify as, our society should begin working toward accepting those who are different.

Personally, I won’t let the label of “metrosexual” discourage me from doing the things I enjoy. I’ll continue to read fashion blogs, drown myself in pomade and spend my free time watching “Mean Girls,” all you have to do is leave me in peace.

Sam Balas can be reached at arg-arts@uidaho.edu

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