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.