While women’s media is focused on finding a work-life balance that can accommodate every element of life – work, family, children, partners, health and wellbeing, for men, that balance can still be a little off kilter. Much focus is given to being better in the workplace and working out. But less time is spent discussing emotional well-being and protecting our mental health.

The traditional image of real men

This is because men have long been seen as alpha males, remaining solid and silent in the face of adversity. Emotions and being emotional are a sign of weakness.  The stereotypical masculine gender role expects men to be high in power, status and dominance, controlling their emotions, but veering towards aggression and confidence.

There is a lot of peer pressure wrapped up in this stereotype too. As pack animals, men are more likely to gather in groups to combine their power status in front of other groups. Anyone who shows any weakness will soon find themselves at the bottom of the pack – a position wrapped in shame and humiliation.

By not learning to deal with their more ‘vulnerable’ emotions, they get pushed to the side and neither acknowledged nor processed. As a result, those men who tend to conform to the stereotype are more likely to experience anxiety, and depression, be self-sedated with alcohol and drugs and be prone to acts of aggression and violence.

But things are changing.

Over the last thirty years, attitudes have taken a significant shift. Men are learning to become more in touch with their more vulnerable side. This is not to say that they are all sitting around making macrame bracelets while gossiping about the latest soap opera. However, a growing understanding of the importance of emotional intelligence and its benefits to the workplace and the home has engendered an entire industry in which the traditional image of an alpha male has changed dramatically.

This change in perspective has been mirrored by changing attitudes towards sexuality in society. As society became more permissive in the sixties and seventies, and homosexuality was legalised, men, in general, felt more liberated in choosing to listen to their emotions. In the mid-1990s, the metrosexual man became a social and marketing phenomenon, fuelled by celebrities such as David Beckham. They were not afraid to showcase their more feminine side alongside their alpha male traits. 

The term metrosexual was coined by the UK journalist Mark Simpson who described the metrosexual man as; “the single young man with a high disposable income, living or working in the city… He was only found inside fashion magazines such as GQ in the eighties. In the nineties, he’s everywhere, and he’s going shopping.”

The 21st-century metrosexual male

As we speed through the third decade of the 21st century, metrosexual man has evolved.  He is far more in touch with his emotions, being happy and open to discussing those things that worry him. Mental health is something to be explored, and emotional vulnerability must be applauded.

In the workplace, the metrosexual man is just as driven as ever but is more aware that a workforce that is in tune with emotions, operates within the boundaries of understanding and kindness, that treats its employees as human beings is more likely to be a more productive workplace.

And in the home, the metrosexual man is happy to roll up his sleeves and help out more with domestic chores – everything from cooking dinner to changing nappies!

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