A few days ago I sat in a combi next to a polished looking middle-aged man dressed to the nines. He wasn’t only handsome but he also smelled good, and was highly groomed - nails short, clean and trimmed, his clothes smart, shoes shiny and hair in a fashionable neat cut. His lips were moisturized and his thick eyebrows brushed. He looked like he had just stepped from the front cover of GQ magazine.
I have noticed that there is an emergence of men who invest a lot into their grooming routines. Some metrosexual men adopt lifestyles that may be associated with homosexuals or transsexuals.
As Africans, we are used to men being slightly scruffy, tardy or unkempt. Every time I walk around the Main mall at lunchtime, I see “real” ordinary Batswana men. The type we have grown accustomed to seeing. Some of them sport mismatched socks, unpolished shoes or un-tucked shirts, if not boasting unruly beards, skin in desperate need of a thorough scrub, or a fashion malfunction.
Go to popular social spots, bars or even social spots, and you will see that some of our men don’t care much about appearance. O kgona go bona motho a gagametse ka phataphata, kana jean e ka re ne a e abelwa ke malomaagwe, lebante la teng le tsamaya ko dimpeng, a bo a re tekkie le sekipa sa mophako sa Builders world. Ha! It’s no wonder that some of our men loathe upmarket bars/restaurants because there, you have to dress the part, finish and klaar.
When I pointed this out to my special friend, he got all ‘deep’ on me, arguing that it was a reflection of class disparities and low-income among Batswana. He insisted that sometimes it’s not that some men don’t want to invest into their grooming, they just earn too little. I don’t buy that. There are cheap stores out there. The Chinese for one have ensured that we can buy clothes for as little as P20! And you, know, nowadays it’s hard to tell the difference between knock-offs and quality items. It doesn’t matter if you have a potbelly, are wearing cheap clothes or aren’t good looking, there should be a sign that you at least peered at yourself in the mirror.
There’s probably a difference between a metrosexual and a homosexual. Being one doesn’t automatically mean a man is the other. A metrosexual is described as a man who is meticulous about his appearance and has a strict grooming routine. Such men spend a significant amount of their earnings towards grooming and fashion shopping. As expected, such men have a high disposable income and live in close proximity to the best stores.
The metrosexual is a dominant feature in popular culture and capitalists have made it the ‘new cool’ because they financially benefit. Nowadays, some men know the T-zone. Perhaps these metrosexuals should advice one of our ministers who always has a shiny nose to steam his face and use a matt face wash. He has a lot of money, what excuse does he have for walking around with a shiny nose?
There was a time I equated metrosexuals with economic homosexuals, because I felt they try too hard to be attractive to potential sponsors and lovers, but I realise that some men just want to look and feel good!
But then again, as much as I appreciate the effort metrosexuals put into their appearance, I’m uncomfortable with a man with a stringent “beauty” routine. Apart from the fact that they attract too much attention, it’s also an ego thing. I have never wanted a man who looks better than me. I prefer a handsome and hygienic clean man with a rugged look, which gives him a masculine appeal.
While some women go gaga over white-collar men with suits and ties, I have always had a thing for gents who work in technical fields because I have a thing for overalls! I have also observed that most men who pay a lot of attention to their appearance are often narcissists. (Think of the men who endlessly post posed pictures of themselves on Instragram and Facebook) Some of them seem to think they are the best things to have ever walked this planet.
On the flipside, maybe we should accept changing masculinity. Gone are the days when men most men were scruffy and forgiven for it. More men are taking better care of themselves and putting their best foot forward.