The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sindur & sarong: mark of a newer man
- Metrosexuals sport feminine traits

They are said to know the difference between pasta and antipasti. They snivel, or at least get dewy-eyed when the lost puppy finds its way home. They don’t fantasise about red Ferraris that much any more, with or without import duties. They go for hair cuts, manicures and pedicures —to salons, not barber-shops.

Then David Beckham walks into the women’s loo twice in a row, in addition to wearing sarongs. Shah Rukh Khan admits to a fondness for moisturisers. Vivek Oberoi wears peach-coloured kurtas delicately embroidered at the neck that can look as good on Aishwarya Rai. Rohit Bal’s models — it was an all-male show at the Fashion Week — walk down the ramp with brazen streaks of sindur blazing from their maang.

The men — they are no more. They have all cut down on their testosterone and gone metrosexual.

It means there’s not a moment when they keep their hands off the feminine side of their personality. It also means the male species has evolved to its next stage from being the New Man, who would change the baby’s nappies but was not required to worry about the right shade of make-up for his particular skin tone.

“The metrosexual is different from the New Man. It’s a leap in attitude. He is unafraid, unashamed about sporting the qualities of a woman. Well, almost,” says Rohit Bal, the designer who has been one of the leading architects of metrosexuality on the Indian ramp. “He is the man of the new millennium. Like a woman, he dresses well, is stylish, sensitive, well-groomed, loves art and culture,” Bal adds.

Like when Yash Birla walks into a party, and it’s difficult to tell him from his wife.

There’s another difference between the metrosexual and the old New Man.

While the definition of the New Man was fuzzy about sexuality, the metrosexual is clearly straight. “He can be a husband, a father, and still wear make-up,” says Bal.

That makes it easy for the men — and so loud is the chorus that answers to the description that you look up and see there’s a mob out there. “I can’t think of anyone who is not metrosexual these days. He is the heterosexual man who is aware of his own body and would like to dress up,” says Atul Kasbekar, leading fashion photographer. “Virtually all the male actors are metrosexual — Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar.…”

Designer Azeem Khan also scratches his head about who is not metrosexual, though he says it’s the lifestyle choices that distinguish him. “All my friends or men around me go for regular hair cuts, manicures and pedicures. Everyone is a metrosexual,” he says.

“I live in a metro, and I am sexual,” says Channel V VJ Gaurav Kapur.

“Jokes apart, I would like to believe that I am a metrosexual,” he adds.

He says he doesn’t change a baby’s nappies because he doesn’t have one, but loves puppies and would take as good care of them.

Shah Rukh has said in an interview he loves dressing up and using lots of beauty products; is not afraid of wearing colours like powder blue and embroidered kurtas; is a devoted husband and father and would like to flaunt it. If that makes him metrosexual, so be it.

This new guy seems to be so popular that he entered mainstream media.

The music channel B4U is to shortly start a programme called Men’z Club, which will bust the following myths: Men are insensitive; Men never cry, When it comes to women men are always thinking about sex; Men do not spend too much time on grooming; Men do not use make-up.

Gaurav claims the thought of the metrosexual man prompts serious thought, something he is not used to. “Men behave this way to cope better in these times. The metrosexual man is not afraid to hide or share his feelings. It’s a paradox. In our times when we are turning more cynical by the day, we need to turn to other people more,” he says.

So is there no hope for the real man' There is, despite Gaurav feeling that it is the real man who has morphed into the metrosexual.

Azeem Khan, while being a practitioner of the cult, alleges that it’s also a marketing terminology. “The term metrosexual has been in currency in the US for some time, though it’s only a recent import here,” he says. “We are being called metrosexual now, but we have always taken good care of ourselves.”

It doesn’t harm the various brands, designer labels and cosmetic companies to have a growing number of male consumers, surely.

There are other objections. A renowned male model says that the metrosexual has been invented by fashion designers here to sell the “womanish” clothes they make. “They are not clothes for real men,” he adds.

Aryan Vaid, former Grasim Mr India, says men always cried and one should remember that. And he wouldn’t be caught dead with sindur on his maang.

But then we are only talking about urban India and not “real” India. And if nature has given us only two genders, it’s up to us to make up the rest, right'

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