Metrosexual icons such as David Beckham and Christiano Ronaldo have inspired a new generation of men to spruce up their act and embrace the ever-growing range of grooming products designed with men in mind. Many of these products as likely to feature in style magazines, newspapers, on television and billboards, in the run up to Christmas. With retailers expecting sales to be brisker than last year (Centre for Retail Research, 2009), one might also expect the market for men’s grooming products to follow suit. However, although Mintel (2007) estimated the overall market size for men’s grooming products was a good-looking £806m, it still continued to exhibit unfulfilled potential.
The slow uptake of these products seems to be because of the continued identification of grooming and self-presentation practices with women and femininity. Harrison’s (2008) visual semiotic analysis of male cosmetics advertised online by Studio5ive found that the organisation reframed mascara and eyeliner in masculine ways (‘manscara’; ‘guy-liner’) in order to distinguish it from women’s products. Those men who actively engaged with such products, risked being critiqued and rejected as non-masculine (hence accusations of homosexuality, effeminacy and narcissism) and so tended to invoke conventional masculinity signifiers (e.g. heterosexual prowess, self-respect etc.) in order to justify their consumption (Hall, 2009). The apparent difficulty men face in enjoying such hitherto feminine identity products shows how more conventional or ‘hegemonic masculinities’ (see: Connell, 1995; Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005) still remain culturally available and are likely to influence men’s (and women’s) consumption patterns this Christmas.
Analysing Discursive Constructions of ‘Metrosexual’ Masculinity Online: ‘What does it matter, anyway?’
The Journal of Popular Culture
Men’s Grooming Habits – UK – March 2007
UK Christmas retail sales to rise 1.9 pct