Masculinity is so last season

I see them everywhere I go. Strolling in the street eating ice-cream, at the movies, in bars; looming next to me in the train: men who’ve spent more time, more money and more effort on their appearance than any woman I know. Skin-tight skinnies, v-neck cardigans exposing a few too many chest-hairs, and the occasional vest with a scarf ‘nonchalantly’ tossed around a spray tanned neck is the new uniform of the modern man. Their hair is perfectly coiffed, cropped and gelled into a smart, yet relaxed position, they even carry ‘man-bags’ and pull out lip-ice tubes whilst adjusting a cropped jacket. What’s going on?

I love unusual clothes and I admire bold fashion choices. But is it too much to ask for men to remain men? Where are the corduroy trousers, military coats and plain denim shirts that make me look twice? Where are the rugged men with 5 o’clock shadows and cowboy hats on horseback? In an old Western I guess. Classic men seem to have been replaced by poncy pixies with dyed hair, vegan diets and no ability to open a jar of pesto. As my grandmother used to say about cats and clouds: “They’ve changed.”

And just when I thought that it was only Cape Town teeming with fashion-conscious metro-men one skinny cocktail away from falling out the closet, I found out that there is a current trend in Europe for men to watch other men on the catwalk and then waltz into shops demanding the very clothes they’ve just seen. It’s got to the point where stores like the British Selfridges are revamping their entire shops to accommodate the desires of these fashionmistas. The redesign includes a shoe section which offers more than 3000 styles, with a whopping 72 000 pairs of shoes!

I understand if I’m coming across as a conservative Luddite with no understanding of the modern world but my preference is for men who are men. Men who wear scuffed sneakers, worn-out blazers and braces. Men who eat lasagna leftovers on white bread, men who carry the heavy shopping and who would never fit into leggings, let alone try. Perhaps I am alone in my longing for masculinity. Sexuality is not so black and white. Girls who wear brogues and cut their hair short; aren’t automatically butch softball players. And many men who moisturize with Nivea and faff with colour-coding their wardrobes fall in love with women.

But this isn’t an attack on sexuality. This is an attack on how physical appearance is now a growing obsession which both men and women are subject to. It’s nice to look good. But whether you’re male or female; if you find yourself standing in front of the mirror for over 40 minutes, squashing an invisible kink out of your hair with neon-painted nails whilst wearing a sequined beret, then take a step back, breathe and open a copy of the Mail and Guardian. Because you’ve lost touch with what’s important.