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Metrosexual (a portmanteau of metropolitan and sexual) is a term describing a man living in an urban culture who is especially meticulous and scrupulous about his personal style, grooming and appearance.[1][2] It is often used to refer to heterosexual men who are perceived to be effeminate rather than strictly adhering to stereotypical masculinity standards. Nevertheless, the term is generally ambiguous on the gender and sexual orientation of a man as it can apply to cisgender, transgender, heterosexual, gay or bisexual men.[3][4][5] Some academics consider metrosexuals to be exhibiting narcissistic tendencies.[6]


The term metrosexual originated in an article by Mark Simpson[7][8] published on November 15, 1994, in The Independent. Although various sources attributed the term to Marian Salzman, she credited Simpson as the original source for her usage of the word.[9][10][11]

Metrosexual man, the single young man with a high disposable income, living or working in the city (because that's where all the best shops are), is perhaps the most promising consumer market of the decade. In the Eighties he was only to be found inside fashion magazines such as GQ. In the Nineties, he's everywhere and he's going shopping.

David Beckham, once described as "the biggest metrosexual in Britain"[3]

The term became popular in 2002 with an article describing David Beckham as "the biggest metrosexual in Britain," offering this definition:[3]

The typical metrosexual is a young man with money to spend, living in or within easy reach of a metropolis—because that's where all the best shops, clubs, gyms and hairdressers are. He might be officially gay, straight or bisexual, but this is utterly immaterial because he has clearly taken himself as his own love object and pleasure as his sexual preference.[3]

The advertising agency Euro RSCG Worldwide adopted the term shortly thereafter for a marketing study.[4] In 2003, The New York Times ran a story, "Metrosexuals Come Out".[7] The term and its connotations continued to roll steadily into more news outlets around the world. Though it did represent a complex and gradual change in the shopping and self-presentation habits of both men and women, the idea of metrosexuality was often distilled in the media down to a few men and a short checklist of vanities, like skin care products, scented candles and costly, colorful dress shirts and pricey designer jeans.[12] It was this image of the metrosexual—that of a straight young man who got pedicures and facials, practiced aromatherapy and spent freely on clothes—that contributed to a backlash against the term from men who merely wanted to feel free to take more care with their appearance than had been the norm in the 1990s, when companies abandoned dress codes, Dockers khakis became a popular brand, and XL, or extra-large, became the one size that fit all.[12] A 60 Minutes story on 1960s–70s pro footballer Joe Namath suggested he was "perhaps, America's first metrosexual" after filming his most famous ad sporting Beautymist pantyhose.[13]

One argument is that metrosexuality is a historical phenomenon, much like the Aesthetic Movement of the 19th century, the metrosexual is a modern incarnation of a dandy. Fashion designer Tom Ford drew parallels when he described David Beckham as a: "total modern dandy". Ford suggested that "macho" sporting role models who also care about fashion and appearance influence masculine norms in wider society.[14]

Related terms[edit]

Cristiano Ronaldo has been described as a "spornosexual" [15]

Over the course of the following years, other terms countering or substituting for "metrosexual" appeared.

  • Retrosexual: It meant anti- or pre-metrosexual sense.[16] Later on, the term was used by some to describe men who subscribed to what they affected to be the grooming and dress standards of a previous era, such as the handsome, impeccably turned-out fictional character of Donald Draper in the television series Mad Men, itself set in an idealised version of the early 1960s New York advertising world.[17]
  • Ubersexual: A term coined by marketing executives and authors of The Future of Men.[18]
  • Spornosexual: A term blending sports, porn, and sexual. In 2016, Simpson argued that footballer Cristiano Ronaldo represents "a fusion of sport and porn [...] Cultivating an athletic body as an object of desire, and showing it off on social networks, accumulating sexual partners. It’s a tendency with young men."[15]
  • Technosexual: A term that circulated in media, fashion, and online outlets of the 2000s[19] to describe a male that possesses a strong aesthetic sense and a love of technology.[20] Swedish footballer Freddie Ljungberg is often cited as the perfect example of a technosexual man, due to an image of masculine sensuality and tech savviness.[21][22][23][24][25]
  • Lumbersexual: In 2016–2017, the "lumbersexual" term circulated in media, fashion, and online outlets, describing a type of male aesthetics that use outdoor gear for urban aesthetics rather than function.[5]
  • Narcissism: The metrosexual has been described as a man with "narcissistic self-absorption", as a way to break from prevailing masculine codes.[6]
  • Female metrosexual. Although the term refers mostly to men, a discussion exists on whether women can be metrosexuals.[26] Characters from the HBO series Sex and the City have been described as wo-metrosexuality to illustrate how the metrosexual lifestyle de-emphasizes traditional male and female gender roles.

Changing masculinity[edit]

Men's fashion industry and consumer culture is closely related to the concept of the metrosexual man.

Traditional masculine norms, as described in psychologist Ronald F. Levant's Masculinity Reconstructed are: "avoidance of femininity; restricted emotions; sex disconnected from intimacy; pursuit of achievement and status; self-reliance; strength; aggression and homophobia".[27]

Various studies, including market research by Euro RSCG, have suggested that the pursuit of achievement and status is not as important to men as it used to be; and neither is, to a degree, the restriction of emotions or the disconnection of sex from intimacy. Another norm change supported by research is that men "no longer find sexual freedom universally enthralling". Lillian Alzheimer noted less avoidance of femininity and the "emergence of a segment of men who have embraced customs and attitudes once deemed the province of women".[28]

Men's fashion magazines—such as Details, Men's Vogue, and the defunct Cargo—targeted what one Details editor called "men who moisturize and read a lot of magazines".[29]

Changes in culture and attitudes toward masculinity, visible in the media through television shows such as Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Queer as Folk, and Will & Grace, have changed these traditional masculine norms. Metrosexuals only made their appearance after cultural changes in the environment and changes in views on masculinity.[citation needed] Simpson said in his article "Metrosexual? That rings a bell..." that "Gay men provided the early prototype for metrosexuality. Decidedly single, definitely urban, dreadfully uncertain of their identity (hence the emphasis on pride and the susceptibility to the latest label) and socially emasculated, gay men pioneered the business of accessorising—and combining—masculinity and desirability."[30]

By 2004, men were buying 69 percent of their own apparel, according to retail analyst Marshal Cohen

But such probing analyses into various shoppers' psyches may have ignored other significant factors affecting men's shopping habits, foremost among them women's shopping habits. As the retail analyst Marshal Cohen explained in a 2005 article in the New York Times entitled, "Gay or Straight? Hard to Tell", the fact that women buy less of men's clothing than they used to has, more than any other factor, propelled men into stores to shop for themselves. "In 1985 only 25 percent of all men's apparel was bought by men, he said; 75 percent was bought by women for men. By 1998 men were buying 52 percent of apparel; in 2004 that number grew to 69 percent and shows no sign of slowing." One result of this shift was the revelation that men cared more about how they look than the women shopping for them had.[12]

However, despite changes in masculinity, research has suggested men still feel social pressure to endorse traditional masculine male models in advertising. Martin and Gnoth (2009) found that feminine men preferred feminine models in private, but stated a preference for the traditional masculine models when their collective self was salient. In other words, feminine men endorsed traditional masculine models when they were concerned about being classified by other men as feminine. The authors suggested this result reflected the social pressure on men to endorse traditional masculine norms.[31]

In marketing[edit]

Whereas the metrosexual was a cultural observation, the term is used in marketing and popular media.[5][4] In this context, the metrosexual is a heterosexual, urban man who is in touch with his feminine side—he color-coordinates, cares deeply about exfoliation, and has perhaps manscaped.[32][33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Collins, William. "Metrosexual". Collins Unabridged English Dictionary. Harper Collins. Retrieved 6 April 2011.
  2. ^ Hall, Mathew (2015). Metrosexual Masculinities. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1137404732.
  3. ^ a b c d Simpson, Mark (22 July 2002). "Meet the metrosexual". Salon. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Rinallo, Diego (2007). "Metro/Fashion/Tribes of men: Negotiating the boundaries of men's legitimate consumption". Consumer Tribes: Theory, Practice, and Prospects. Butterworth-Heinemann. pp. 76–92. ISBN 9780750680240.
  5. ^ a b c Diaz Ruiz, Carlos A.; Kjellberg, Hans (2020). "Feral segmentation: How cultural intermediaries perform market segmentation in the wild". Marketing Theory. 20 (4): 429–457. doi:10.1177/1470593120920330. ISSN 1470-5931. S2CID 219027435.
  6. ^ a b Coad, David (2008). The Metrosexual: Gender, Sexuality and Sport. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, Albany. p. 187. ISBN 9780791474099. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  7. ^ a b St John, Warren (22 June 2003). "Metrosexuals come out". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  8. ^ Simpson, Mark (7 May 2008). "Here come the mirror men: why the future is metrosexual". marksimpson.com. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  9. ^ Salzman, Marian (26 February 2014). "The Man Brand". Forbes. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  10. ^ Simpson, Mark. "Metrosexual? That rings a bell..." marksimpson.com. Archived from the original on 24 January 2007. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  11. ^ Hoggard, Liz (29 June 2003). "She's the bees knees". The Observer. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  12. ^ a b c Colman, David (19 June 2005). "Gay or Straight? Hard to Tell". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Hancock, David (16 November 2006). "Broadway Joe: Football great talks about his drinking problem with Bob Simon". CBS News 60 Minutes. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  14. ^ Coad, David (2008). The Metrosexual: Gender, Sexuality and Sport. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, Albany. pp. 186–7. ISBN 9780791474099. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  15. ^ a b Webb, Tom. "Inventor of the Term 'Metrosexual' Says Cristiano Ronaldo Is 'Spornosexual'". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 2022-04-27.
  16. ^ McFedries, Paul. "retrosexual". wordspy.com. Wordspy. Archived from the original on 20 February 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  17. ^ Lipke, David; Thomas, Brenner (21 June 2010). "Men's Trend: The Retrosexual Revolution". Women's Wear Daily. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  18. ^ Simpson, Mark (2005). "Metrodaddy v. Ubermummy". 3am Magazine. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  19. ^ Clarke, Sean; Clarke, Seán (2005-01-27). "Are you a technosexual?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-07-27.
  20. ^ "Word Spy contributors" (2004) Technosexual Archived 2014-07-17 at the Wayback Machine wordspy.com
  21. ^ "Tecnosexual". Patologías urbanas. 2005-01-27. Retrieved 2023-07-27.
  22. ^ "¿Adiós a los metrosexuales?". El Universal (in Spanish). Retrieved 2023-07-27.
  23. ^ Dal Col, Angelo Alecsandro (2010-05-05). "Metrossexualidade e retórica: o homem como produto". Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo.[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ REDACCION (2005-10-16). "Una historia de hombres tecnosexuales". Panamá América (in Spanish). Retrieved 2023-07-27.
  25. ^ Percília, Eliene. "Tecnossexual". Brasil Escola (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 2023-07-27.
  26. ^ Huffington Post Mark Simpson and Caroline Hagood on Wo-Metrosexuality and the City April 13, 2010
  27. ^ Levant, Ronald F.; Kopecky, Gini (1995). Masculinity Reconstructed: Changing the Rules of Manhood—At Work, in Relationships, and in Family Life. New York: Dutton. ISBN 978-0452275416.
  28. ^ Alzheimer, Lillian (22 June 2003). "Metrosexuals: The Future of Men?". Euro RSCG. Archived from the original on 3 August 2003. Retrieved 15 December 2003.
  29. ^ Fine, Jon (28 February 2005). "Counter couture: men's fashion titles on rise even as ad pages fall". Ad Age. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  30. ^ Simpson, Mark (22 June 2003). "Metrosexual? That rings a bell..." Independent on Sunday; later MarkSimpson.com. Archived from the original on 24 January 2007. Retrieved 2003-10-13.
  31. ^ Martin, Brett A. S.; Juergen Gnoth (30 January 2009). "Is the Marlboro Man the Only Alternative? The Role of Gender Identity and Self-Construal Salience in Evaluations of Male Models" (PDF). Marketing Letters. No. 20. pp. 353–367.
  32. ^ "So, men are obsessed with their bodies. Is that so bad? | Mark Simpson". The Guardian. 2012-01-31. Archived from the original on 2023-04-18.
  33. ^ Simpson, Mark (22 June 2002). "Meet the metrosexual". Salon.com; later MarkSimpson.com. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 21 September 2006.

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