Guys, Make-Up, and Beauty: Metrosexuals and Retrosexuals [1/2]   Leave a comment


Upon reading an article from AlterNet.Org concerning Men and Make-Up I believe that there is a need to offer commentary on this issue. The category this article was founded under was Culture as it pertained to Feminism and thus this is the first Social Commentary I wish to offer you. I believe that it is important to address Feminism in Our Culture Today and come to a common ground or peace with it. However, this cannot be done in one or two articles, so today I am going to focus on Metrosexuality and Retrosexuality as it relates to Masculinity. I intend to approach this both Philosophically and in light of Catholic Theology, sources will be provided in Part II of this article.

On The Metrosexual

The AlterNet.Org article made some good points which I wish to quote below and comment on them. The first of course is a concern,

“‘Because you’re worth it’ has a different meaning when directed to women—for whom the self-care of beauty work is frequently dwarfed by the insecurities it invites—than when directed to men, for whom the slogan may seem a reinforcement of identity, not a glib self-esteem boost. The entire campaign relies upon a jocular take on masculinity. Without the understanding that men don’t ‘really’ need this stuff, the ad falls flat.”

This part of the article, is discussing L’Oreal as they try to expand their market into men. This excerpt to me shows a concern that I also have with the Beauty Industry. Women, in our society have been ingrained since birth to feel like their aesthetic beauty is the measure of their worth. The concern is that I have, with more men becoming Metrosexual this insecurity will become the new obsession for men as the measure of their own worth as well. To define Metrosexuality in its most broadest terms I would say that, Metrosexuality is at its root an unhealthy obsession with appearances.

“But much as we’d like to think that re-opening the doors of playful, showy fashions to men could serve as a liberation for them—and, eventually, for women—we may wish to be hesitant to rush into it with open arms. The benefits of relaxed gender roles indicated by men’s cosmetics could easily be trumped by the expansion of beauty work’s traditional role of signaling one’s social status. The more we expand the beauty toolkit of men, the more they too will be judged on their compliance to both class markers and the beauty standard. We’re all working to see how women can be relieved of the added burden of beauty labor—the ‘third shift,’ if you will—but getting men to play along isn’t the answer.”

This is another concern of mine as well. For men, success in the world is defined by what you have, by how hard you work and the fruit of that labor. Our Anthropocentric society now wishes, to give men a new obsession, its not just how hard you work to bring home the fruit of that labor anymore, but now it is also how hard you work to stay pretty. According to the article, Marek Hewryk, founder of men’s cosmetics line 4V00 had said that, “Men use cosmetic products in order to cover up or correct imperfections, not to enhance beauty.” Its bad enough men feel guilty when they do not succeed in bring home a good piece of the pie, but now if they are losing their physical beauty, they will be subliminally subjected to feelings of guilt and insecurity for not “looking good.” Because thats what the advertisements and influencer’s say? This is ridiculous!

“Both [Naomi] Wolf and [Jill] Filipovic astutely indicate that the shift may signal a loosening of gender roles: ‘I love it, it is all good,’ said Wolf. ‘It’s all about play…and play is almost always good for gender politics.’ Filipovic adds, ‘I think gender-bending in fashion is great, and I hope it’s more than a flash-in-the-pan trend.'”

Gender Roles in our society today are breaking down, and in certain respects this is a good thing, no longer do men have to feel compelled for example, that success will be measured in terms of solely ones paycheck and property. Likewise, in confronting various domestic conflicts and difficulties, men should be able to talk about their feelings with their spouses and their family and not be bottled up, and so on. However, “gender politics” means, for the advancement of a particular group that feels oppressed. So somehow by men becoming Metrosexuals and by men not having a unique sense of identity, it advances the cause of the Oppressed? It seems more to me, that the oppression is merely being shifted, rather then being destroyed.

On The Retrosexuals

To me Metrosexuality is closely related to Narcissistic Pride [Self-Infatuation] and Consumerism more then fairness between the genders. It should be noted that, the True Man was a man of Frugality, he did not spend in excess in order to attend to his appearances. However, as our society has grown increasingly more shallow and consumeristic, it should be no wonder that the Metrosexual community has grown and been popularized. According to Mark Simpson wrote that,

“The stoic, self-denying, modest straight male didn’t shop enough (his role was to earn money for his wife to spend), and so he had to be replaced by a new kind of man, one less certain of his identity and much more interested in his image – that’s to say, one who was much more interested in being looked at (because that’s the only way you can be certain you actually exist). A man, in other words, who is an advertiser’s walking wet dream.”

Sigmund Freud wrote in his book, On Narcissism that, “A person may love: (1) According to the narcissistic type: (a) What he is himself, (b) What he once was, (c) What he would like to be, (d) Someone who once was part of himself.” In the case of the Post-Modern Metrosexual, he fulfills Type-A and Type-C of Narcissistic Pride. The metrosexual, in its original coinage, is a person who, under the spell of consumerism, is or desires to be what he sees in magazines and advertising. Of course, there is a chance that the Retrosexuals could be Metrosexuals in disguise, feeling that the image of the Retrosexual is somehow physically appealing but nothing more.

If Metrosexuality, is about Consumerism and an unhealthy Self-Infatuation with ones Image then, Retrosexuality is about Frugality and a healthy, or better yet, proportionate respect to ones Image, in light of the rest of their being. Granted I agree that, even Retrosexuality maybe merely an extreme opposition to Metrosexuality, or better yet the “perfect response” to Metrosexuality but even Metrosexuality has its benefits and flaws. The Retrosexual for example, is or attempts to be Chivalrous around women where the Metrosexual tries to seduce women based upon their own Narcissistic Self-Image. However, where the Retrosexual maybe a bit more far removed from their emotions the Metrosexual is in touch with [perhaps even subject to] their emotional movements. I feel then that, the features of Metrosexuality and Retrosexuality ought to be brought into a new transcendent whole rather then in a state of conflict, for both are extremes. I would like to address with you now what this new whole may look like.


Posted August 24, 2011 by jimbo9889 in Current Events

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