Room for a metrosexual hero?

Research is one of the absolute delights of being a writer. I love having an excuse to ask questions – sometimes very random questions…

While GW and Jack were discussing the merits of using concentrated chicken stock in risotto, I was doing research with Hannah. I wish I’d had the same ‘take no prisoners’ attitude when I was eighteen! Our niece is fabulous – a very together, very smart but funny girl who’s in first year university in the south of England. She was happy to answer anything I asked!!

First there was shoe research.

Hannah proved she really can walk in things that I thought would give her nose bleeds. I tried them on expecting to fall flat on my face and voila, my legs grew three inches (that’s 7.62 centimetres for you Gen Xs and Ys!). Who knew it would be so painless to stop being vertically challenged 🙂 They were so comfortable I was tempted to wear them out myself! But I could almost hear the ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ bleating GW would have been delivering…

Next were false eyelashes. They’ve never graced my make-up collection,(which consists of mascara, lipstick and sunscreen…), but I have to admit they made a dramatic difference to Hannah’s eyes when she oh so carefully secured them in place. I didn’t rush out and buy a pair as I had visions of me with eyelids stuck together trying to convince immigration officials to let me back into Australia…

But the most fascinating research was into young men (call me a cougar and I’ll growl back at you, ok?). I may not have been paying attention in Australia, but there seemed to be an inordinate number of young men walking around the streets of Manchester with waxed eyebrows, dyed and ironed hair, and wearing make-up. No offence intended, but I thought my gay friends were the only ones who took that much care with their appearances. Or road cyclist and swim stars! Apparently not…

Hannah assures me that the lads in the university college where she stays in Ipswich regularly come visiting so the girls can wax their chests and eyebrows for them. I couldn’t stop there… So Brazillians for men too? She looked a little grossed out – ‘Yes, but they do that themselves. We don’t!’

Ookaaay… So these buff young men work out in gyms, spend an hour and a half getting ready to go at night, borrow their girlfriends’ hair irons and products, have lovely smooth legs and chests, and look like they’ve stepped out of a GQ photo shoot.

So, this begs the question. Am I writing male characters who will only appeal to women over thirty-five? According to Hannah, a man with a hairy chest would be disgusting. Hmm, to me a dusting of crisp hair across a good pair of pecs followed by the obligatory sexy trail disappearing behind the press-stud of a worn pair of levis would make my pulse race. Not so Hannah, she’d be reaching for the wax strips to tidy him up!

Can I see my hero gazing thoughtfully at himself in the mirror while he’s straightening his hair? Normally he’d be sliding the razor through the shaving foam, taking away three days of dark growth on his square jaw and leaving his skin smooth and brown…

It was a huge reality check and I have to thank Hannah for all her wonderful advice!! I’ve since carried on my research with my First Officers. None of them are admitting to any of these habits, but they all have mates who do. In fact, one of them commented that on his last trip to Melbourne he’d noticed a lot of men with shaved legs and tiny shorts walking around the city. (It is the home of AFL, of course, so short shorts are obligatory there!) Changing times…

So, metrosexual heroes? Yay or nay?


17 thoughts on “Room for a metrosexual hero?

  1. Sonya, that’s lovely! Thank you. Rafe and Callam are both the sort of men I would have thought were very special when I was in my twenties and thirties (not that I’d chose differently now but you know what I mean – cougar I’m not!).

    Reassuring to hear your brother attracts women just by being a man. I do wonder though whether today’s eighteen year olds will continue to like hairless men with straightened hair or whether nature simply allows our taste to age gracefully along with the rest of us.

    I guess when I was doing a lot of surfing and swimming in my teens a lot of the guys I hung around with (and thought were pretty cute) had smooth chests just because they weren’t old enough to have grown any hair. I can remember Jack Thompson doing a centrefold for Cleo magazine and being a little alarmed at the amount of body hair he was sporting…

  2. Oh, and if you read any romantic suspense out of America, you’re not going to find any waxed chests! Real men are proud of being men! Readers over twenty-five appreciate that!

  3. One of the things I love best about your heroes (and, as I’m turning thirty in a few weeks, I’m between the ages of Lauren and Morgan) is that the men they pair up with are MEN!! You’re writing characters in my age group, and I think you’re spot-on.

    I have a brother about my age who (embarrassingly) is approached by women all the time. Yes, he works out, but he cuts his own hair, wears old, worn clothes, and couldn’t really care less about how attractive he is or isn’t. Not all women are attracted to girly boys!! I have cousins in Sydney who push the gender boundaries to the extreme, but I think in the rest of Australia, we still appreciate masculinity!

    I am not attracted to effeminate guys. Funnily enough I had this very conversation with my almost-sixty mother today, and she finds them horrid too!

  4. Do you remember warwick Capper when he was playing for Sydney, had long, blond hair, and Jeffrey Edelstein owned the Swans? Oh, God that pink uniform and short shorts, he looked like AFL Barbie

  5. Thanks, Hayley, appreciate that perspective.

    I think the lads driving a 300 yesterday morning would have been able to compare waxing and dyeing processes 🙂

    So far the 400 boys have been what I would call au natural – and they’re sporty types who could have a legitimate reason for waxing their legs!

  6. Not for me, thanks, Helene! Are you sure the ones walking around Melbourne are not “in the closet” AFL players? 🙂

  7. For what it’s worth Helene, I’m well under thirty-five and if he spends longer in the bathroom than me then no thanks! Great topic to discuss with some of the -300 boys too if you need to do more research! No names of course (*cough* Lowey *cough*) 🙂

  8. Glad you approve, Hannah, I may need to check more details with you! I suspect you’re right about the FOs – some of them know way more than they’re letting on!

  9. Lol, Barb, I think they party hard once they’re all kitted out for the night. And I’m sure there’s some study being done somewhere at the uni!!

    I had so much fun with Hannah, but I’m going to start questioning the younger flight attendants at work too. I know a couple of them send their boyfriends off for facials 🙂

  10. Phillipa, I love Eric Bana’s quote – perfect!

    Of course I’m quite partial to a a six pack and broad shoulders especially when they come from hard work as opposed to gym work!

  11. Haha Helene this has made me laugh 🙂 And i am sure your First Officers will look after themselves if they know of friends who do! Glad to see your research is continuing! xxx

  12. Fascinating, Helene. As you say, great research, but I’m the wrong generation and writiing in the wrong setting to consider introducing metrosexuals. So what do these guys do in their spare time? Paint their nails? I’m assuming they’re not playing sport.
    Great Blog post!

  13. I could never write a metrosexual hero because they just don’t appeal to me. A man with a waxed chest? There’s the door, buddy….

    Hairless or hairy, fashions change, but I am well over 35 and thus like my males to have a bit of fur, a bit of grr, a bit of offhand casual gorgeousness that simply occurs naturally. As Eric Bana said, ‘If you have a six pack you don’t have a life.’

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