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Why can’t men wear makeup?

by Marco Saveriano April 12, 2016
Why can’t men wear makeup?

More males are dipping their brushes into the realm of cosmetics

“You accept a grown man being mentally unstable enough to put on makeup in a non-entertainment way? Guess you’ll also end up accepting incest, rape, nudity, and all other kinds of hell that’ll break loose with no restraint.”

Photo by Jessica Kinnari.

Photo by Homo Erectus.

It’s hard to believe that in 2016 people are still this ignorant… but on the other hand, it really isn’t.
That comment was found on Maybelline’s Instagram page, on a photo of YouTube beauty guru Manny Gutierrez—also known as Manny Mua. Manny was sporting a full face of flawless makeup.

With makeup trends continuing to rise, thanks to the onset of YouTube and Instagram beauty gurus sharing easy-to-follow tutorials, women can now achieve makeup artist-caliber results at home. But it seems like men are still too restricted by their own masculinity to give in to the siren call of cosmetics.

Manny is not the only popular male makeup artist subjected to online scrutiny because of his affinity for makeup. His best friend, makeup artist Patrick Starrr, who is more gender fluid, often wears wigs along with his painted face. Scrolling through his Instagram feed, you can find hateful remarks like “ewwww. Made me throw up” and “is this a boy or a girl.”

Manny and Patrick are two, albeit extreme, examples of how men are shamed for wearing makeup. Why are so many men vehemently against the idea of wearing makeup? It does not have to be a sign of femininity.

Men feel self-conscious about their looks, too. Men get pimples they want to cover up. Men have scars and skin discolorations they want to hide. Some just want to enhance what they have. Why shouldn’t they be able to wear some concealer? Why can’t they use powder to fix that shiny nose?

Makeup wasn’t always just for women. In Ancient Egypt, upper-class men embraced cosmetics as both a sign of status and as part of their health regimens, and it wasn’t always about vanity, according to HowStuffWorks.com. These men would use scented oils and animal fats to protect their skin from the harsh sun and soothe their aching muscles after hours of hard labour.

Men would even line their eyes with heavy black kohl and use crushed minerals to adorn their eyelids, as demonstrated by notable figures like King Tut. These were powerful men who wanted to show off their wealth through their aesthetic. They certainly didn’t worry about appearing weak or feminine.

This has nothing to do with drag and nothing to do with looking like a woman. This is a case of men wearing makeup the same way women wear makeup. Some may wear a little concealer and powder just to cover a blemish, while others may favour contouring and highlighting to give a completely different effect. And others won’t wear any at all, and that’s fine. But that shouldn’t mean all men should be shamed for wanting to experiment with their looks.

We need to start a conversation about men breaking free from the suffocating hyper-masculine facade that they are still being forced to perpetuate. Makeup doesn’t need to be gender-specific, and we need to start realizing that by shaming men for wanting to explore it—even just by making seemingly harmless jokes about it—you’re just reinforcing this toxic masculinity.

This is meant as a message for not only men, but for women, who are just as guilty when it comes to this kind of harmful behaviour. People need to explore their identity on their own, and they don’t need your ignorance to hinder that process.

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