Do you go out of your way to buy organic food? Have you thought about the wu wei in your home? Have you tried yoga, belly-dancing, or surfing recently? Are you attracted to traditional crafts from other cultures or have you started knitting? Do you own a Prius or have you thought about buying a hybrid car? Are you a tea connoisseur or an organic wine- and beer-drinker? Is there a certain aromatherapy scent that brings you comfort, especially in candle form? If most of your answers are yes, then count yourself among the growing numbers of metrospirituals-the kinder, gentler post-Yuppies who want to treat the earth and native cultures with respect, connect with their inner source and inspiration, test their bodies and expand their minds with ancient physical practices-and do it all with serious style.
Jim Twitchell, a professor of English at the University of Florida and author of many books about consumer culture, including "Adcult USA: The Triumph of Advertising in America" (1995), attributes the demand for luxury goods to a need for salvation or epiphany through consuming. Throughout history, Twitchell argues, "The primary deliverer of sensations was the church. That's where you went to have an epiphany. . The sensations of luxury mirror the sensations of epiphany-the ability to give the consumer the sensation that I've come to the end of the line, I'm saved, I'm there, I don't have to wrestle any more." The metrospiritual takes luxury-buying to a new level--reaching outward for connection to the planet and to each other.
According to Sharon Lee of youth-trend forecasting firm Look-Look, "There's lots of desire to be spiritual and have more meaning than a commercial, purely secular lifestyle provides. And there's a smorgasbord of product offerings that have gradations of spirituality woven into them." The words you see and hear again and again on the many products that help define and support the metrospiritual lifestyle-like Fresh's Crème Ancienne which is made by hand at a monastery in the Czech Republic--are "calm," "enrich," "renew," "inspire," "experience," "connect," "heal," "ancient" and "conscious," for starters.
Spirituality with Style
is a metrospiritual
And what are you actually getting if you have the patience to wait on the slowly snaking line? Semi-fast food that is nutritious and delicious (the Number Six, for example, is masala-spiced potatoes with spinach, jack cheese, and tomato), served in an atmosphere heavy on the good yogic vibes. You're getting food with a stamp of individualism and thought, an exotic staple made American and virtuous in some ineffable way.
Virtue is a key feature of the metrospiritual lifestyle, and those in the fold expect it not only of themselves but also from the companies to which they give their business. Of course, as Sharon Lee points out, "Lots of companies are doing a superficial job and lots of companies are doing a really meaningful job" of being responsible global citizens. At Origins, part of the written mission is to "do whatever we can to protect the earth and its resources." On Aveda's website, the idea is to "strive to set an example for environmental leadership and responsibility."
Metrospiritual companies that practice what they preach believe that popular, profitable products and social responsibility are not mutually exclusive propositions. Whole Foods, an emblematically metrospiritual company, is in the midst of a massive expansion of its $3.9 billion business. Not surprisingly, the Whole Foods web site echoes the now-familiar mantra, "We believe in a virtuous circle entwining the food chain, human beings and Mother Earth: each is reliant upon the others through a beautiful and delicate symbiosis."
The metrospiritual "holy trinity"
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