Ning Jing Nguyen – Reading Journal 1

Metrosexuality and Men’s Lifestyle Magazines

Metrosexuality can be broadly defined as a male who invests money and time on shopping and his appearance. Mark Simpson, coining the term in 1994, used it to describe in magazines, the “narcissistic young men sporting fashionable clothes and accessories”.

With the Chinese media (including men’s lifestyle magazines) promoting various men’s cosmetics and services, the metrosexual male is slowly growing larger in number within China.

There are often connotations of metrosexuality holding parallels with homosexuality; their attention with their appearance is often paralleled with that associated with women. However an article from the China Daily from 2005 states that “He may not be your father’s idea of a macho man, but nevertheless, he loves women,” creating a firm stance on the distinction between metrosexuality and homosexuality.

Despite this, the editor of the Chinese men’s lifestyle magazine ‘Men’s Style’ stated the demographic of the magazine readership as 50% gay men, 35% women and 10-15% straight men. The magazines contain pictures that could be said to have homoerotic intentions, with pictures of men in very little clothing. However, as homosexuality is a sensitive topic in China, any notion of gay identity is strictly not mentioned, though this is not to say that metrosexuality is inherently homosexual. Amongst women and gay readers, the images of the male body portray it as an object to be consumed; an object of desire.  Nimrod Baranovitch noted the apparent role reversal in this aspect between males and females, stating that “for the first time in Chinese history, men became a commodity for female consumption.”

Yang Lin in 2005, senior editor of MENBOX, defined metrosexuality and modified Mark Simpson’s definition: “.. a nucleus of 25 to 40 year olds who love fashion, beauty-care, and have received a good education. They live in big cities, because big cities provide the best eating and entertainment venues, including boutiques, bars, gyms, beauty salons etc. They love life, beautiful women, games, risk-taking, enjoyment, cars, having fun…”

Metrosexuality is also associated with a certain social financial and social class. Men’s lifestyle magazines aimed at promoting this lifestyle target the so-called “middle class”, who are “economically privileged and obsessed with status”(Song and Lee, 2010). It is highly powered by consumerist lifestyle. Again, in 2002 Mark Simpson defined a metrosexual as “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”.

Indeed one of these metropolis’ could be Hong Kong; a centre of consumerism, being a leading international financial centre and with a culture centred on money; of spending and consumerism. Parades of Lamborghinis and Ferraris driven by well-groomed, metrosexual men are not uncommon to see. Another similar metropolis would be Macau, where it’s tourism industry and famous casinos make it another consumerist centre.

The growing Chinese economy may be a factor in the rise of metrosexuality within the country; the spending power of an individual will be higher. The lifestyle magazines certainly promote this; with focuses on real estate, cars, fashion, food and travel.

 

Geng Song and Tracy K. Lee (2010) “Consumption, Class Formation and Sexuality: Reading Men’s Lifestyle Magazines in China.” The China Journal, no. 64, July 2010

Edward McDonald (2012) “Translating metrosexual into Chinese: popular culture & identity labels across cultural boundaries” 

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