June 19, 2006 -- Beards, muscles, brawn. Could it be that the years of the metrosexual man are over and the macho man is back?
"The new macho is the old macho," said Stephen Perrine, editor in chief of Best Life magazine. "It is about being competent and feeling traditional, filling traditional male roles."
The recent demise of Cargo, a men's magazine dedicated solely to shopping, has been hailed as a death knell of the metrosexual trend.
Perrine pinpoints the death of the metrosexual to a moment in last year's hit comedy "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," when Steve Carrell's character has his chest waxed.
"When they ripped the chest hair off Steve in 'The 40-Year-Old Virgin,' a whole generation of men said if that's what women want, I'd rather stay a virgin," Perrine said.
Leo Burnett, a Chicago advertising firm, conducted a global study of masculinity last year, which found half of men say their role in society is unclear and that they feel "less dominant" than in previous decades. More than 70 percent of men said advertising was out of touch with men's "reality," leading company executive Rose Cameron to recommend that advertisers "reassure men of their masculinity."
Advertising looks like it's starting to catch up. A recent Miller Lite ad campaign shows a round table of guys debating "man laws." Actor Jim Belushi just published an advice book titled "Real Men Don't Apologize," and Vince Vaughn's lovable brute in "The Break Up" is rocking the box office.
"Whenever there's a trend, such as the more-manicured man called metrosexual, there's going to be a reaction against that, almost immediately after that, where you see a stronger man, kind of the 'machosexual,'" said Eric Wilson, a reporter for The New York Times.
There's good news for women who still go for guys who know about labels and skin care lines, Perrine said.
"I think guys are still in touch with their feminine side but not wearing it on their sleeves," Perrine said. "It is those guys that go down into the coal mines and those guys who rush into the burning buildings. That's macho. It's not Kevin Federline with a wife beater and tattoos."
Best Life recently polled its readers and found that 79 percent said they valued achieving personal growth, 73 percent valued trying to learn new things, and only 48 percent valued sitting back and relaxing.
"The new manliness is about being competent and of value," Perrine said. "It's less of men looking into their own navels.
"The metrosexual is the guy you call about waxing his eyebrows. The macho guy is the one you call to kill the spider. It's about competence, care and being there to value and care for family and children."
The new macho yet sensitive role models are actors such as Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman and Heath Ledger, Perrine said.
Perrine said going to the gym is still considered macho, as long as it's focused on health and not just physical appearance. He said hybrid cars are part of the macho trend, too, as is a suit and tie for the office.
"Macho doesn't mean he's uncaring," Perrine said. "It just means he cares less about his looks."