Monday, February 22, 2010

Heavy traffic in the metro area OR Men are conditioned to be dirty

I have kind of a tumultuous relationship with conditioner and other hair products. It’s kind of like a forbidden romance.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not, like, passionate about hair products. Mostly you could describe my main hair product emotion as “conflicted.” I didn’t use them much until several years ago. I was getting my hair cut one day and the hair cutting person (I don’t know what to call her, and I don’t want to call her a “stylist”) told me that my hair was frizzy and that I needed to start using conditioner and “product.”

“First things first,” I said. “What the heck is ‘product’?”

She explained product to me and sent me on my way. I started using conditioner and felt OK about it. A couple of years later female friend started making fun of me for it and told me that using conditioner is girly and “metro.” Yeah, but a girl told me to do it! It's not like I'm trying to get better “shine” or “bounce” or anything.

So which is it? Should I be Pro-Conditioner or Anti-Conditioner? It’s what I like to call “The Conditioner Conundrum.”

Perhaps it is a problem with how we perceive sexuality and hygiene. Anything gross and messy is masculine and anything nice and orderly is feminine, right? So then unibrows are technically manly because they are, like, wild and untamed, and it would be “metro” to buy tweezers and try to make two eyebrows out of one.

But women don’t want gross and messy, nor do they want nice and orderly. Men need to walk a fine and ever-shifting line between complete and utter sloppiness and being “metrosexual.” It is very confusing. has several definitions for the word “metrosexual.” Most of the entries were similar to this one, which says, “a heterosexual male who has an impeccable sense of style, belief in designer hygiene and a willingness to emote.”

The designer hygiene thing cracks me up because the “belief” part makes it sound like a religion or something, like these men belong to the First Church of Clothes, Cologne and Product of Saint Ryan Seacrest.

Other definitions are comical in the amount of detail they contain, like this one which says, “an urban male who takes care of his appearance from head to toe by bodybuilding, styling his hair, waxing his eyebrows, using lotions, wearing perfume and tanning. Has a keen interest in fashion, cooking, brand names, interior decorating and nice cars, especially convertibles.”

Women seem to be simultaneously desirous and fearful of these “dapper” men. On the one hand women are attracted to men with good style, but these same women are also unsettled by the fact that the men they are attracted to have a better handle on fashion and hair than they do and are kind of jealous and intimidated. Thus women continue to have a love/hate relationship with metrosexual men.

I don’t consider myself metrosexual by any stretch of the imagination, and I'm not really that into hair. However, I don’t really think it’s fair that heterosexual men aren’t allowed to use conditioner.

Why can’t men be into hair and fashion? And why can’t women be into, say, power tools? And why are men supposed to be into power tools? And why are women supposed to be into hair and fashion? Around and around we go!

I think “The Conditioner Conundrum” will continue to puzzle sociologists, philosophers and hairstylists for years to come.