Men we all know. They are the ones with the deeper voice and the hairier faces and chests. Mén, on the other hand, is a term I just created which’s synonym would probably be ‘metro-sexual’. They are also men but usually more slick, less hairy, better smelling, have softer skin and are potentially more insecure but not necessarily.
Driving back home from work one afternoon a few months ago I was casually listening to the presenter’s chit-chat on our local Stellenbosch radio station. The whole metro vs rugged man or ‘what will the man of the future look like?’ topic was brought up for some reason and one of presenters stated that he thinks the time of the metro-sexual male is now officially over. He said that if you’re the kind of guy who doesn’t own ten types of beauty creams and perfumes and tend not to care too much about the state of your beard or hair-do, fear not for you are the new it thing, you are once again what is defined as a true male. Although he sort of developed his theory as he went along in what was possibly an attempt to defend his own lack of hygienic or clean-up skills, the signs are definitely there that the boys truly are back in town.
A while back I read a survey which suggested that the man most Australian men would want to be (from among their own ranks) is Hugh Jackman, famous for his very manly roles such as the Wolverine character he plays in the X-Men movie series or starring as Drover in Australia. Further studies also suggested that it is this type of man women would prefer nowadays as well. Some analysts were of the opinion that factors such as the economic recession and even rumours of war and so forth contributes to this trend turning away from the more emotional, fresh looking metro-man back to the classic, less groomed man. In times of trouble or apparent danger, the ladies prefer the basic, less sophisticated, get-the-job-done man around. She probably knows he would be more than capable of taking the occasional shower and clip his nails when necessary.
Then, we have just all lived through Movember, after we also had a Snorgustus (Snor=moustache + Augustus=August) in South Africa, and my one colleague at work said she wants to create and promote Baart (Baard=beard + Maart=March) at the start of next year – I just saw on google that this beard-growing initiative during the month of March already exists however! Maybe it’s just facial hair coming back into fashion or maybe it’s young men longing to grow the facial stuff the way their fathers did but can’t do that and still be considered cool if you’re a guy under the age of thirty five.
Should we, however, look to the fashion scene to get a true indication of where trends are heading? I’m afraid the message communicated from the catwalk is no different. Catherine Caines shares in The Australian that ‘Adventurers such as Bear Grylls and David de Rothschild are the unlikely new action heroes inspiring luxury menswear.’ Image director of Ermenegildo Zegna, Anna Zegna, continues saying “We are thankfully returning to a culture where authenticity and skills are celebrated. The major trend in men’s luxury is the move towards a more casual total-look wardrobe, which is a demand we are seeing the world over. Men have always wanted clothes that perform with them and this is a constant value they search for, be it for formal or casual wear.”
And of course, how could we not consider the success of the recent Old Spice viral ad campaign which got launched through the clever use of Youtube and twitter. If you haven’t seen it yet you’ll want to watch it here if you’re a man, man. Ladies love these ads even more. Yes you do, go on and watch them all. This is sort of a ‘Men meets Mén’ scenario: on the one hand these guys are clean and fresh while on the other their attitude reeks of classic manliness. They smell like male scented body wash, as opposed to ‘lady scented’ ones, while still exuding a conquer all, can do attitude and remaining relatively gentlemanlike in the process.
Maybe it’s a fashion trend, or maybe we realised that the female male just isn’t very practical and totally uncool? And are Men necessarily manlier than Mén? Surely our outer appearance, mannerisms and amount of formula display something of what our insides are made of but what exactly do we as the human race, both men and women, desire to see in our men? Is the degree of manliness measured in body odour, fart loudness or sense of fashion, or are all those totally irrelevant when it comes to determining what a man is made of? Is it possible that both Men and Mén could be a real, full-blooded man?
I share with you Robert Lewis’ definition of a man: “A real man rejects passivity and takes responsibility to lead, provide, protect, and teach expecting to receive the greater reward.”
He is thus someone who takes initiative, injects life into his environment instead of sucking life from it, recognises the role only he can play in society and then serve those around him through that.
PS – follow this link to Bear Grylls’ clothing range.