The Progress and Backlash of Makeup for Men
In February, HYPEBEAST published an article titled “Can Men’s Makeup Finally Gain Hype?” Referencing the recent wave of makeup marketed specifically to men, the article was non-judgmental and even suggested a surefire way it would sell: “All it would take is Off-White™ Beauty.’”
Yet, the comments show exactly why it hasn’t gained hype.
An online publication about men’s fashion, art, design and music, HYPEBEAST is geared towards Millennial and Gen Z men. According to the site, their readership is mostly between 18-35 years old and 75 percent male. Unfortunately, it is unsurprising how prevalent these kind of comments are and it shows that there is still much work to be done.
With over 100 comments a week after it was published, the article was largely met with negativity and homophobia. Readers quickly shut down the idea of ‘real’ men wearing makeup, implying (and sometimes outright writing) that makeup is emasculating and any man who wears it is gay.
Some commentators openly condemned the homophobia, but they were clearly outnumbered by those who believe makeup for men is fundamentally wrong.
The process of un-gendering makeup has been a long and difficult one. This article and its comments summarize the struggle perfectly. In our society, makeup is marketed almost exclusively to women, and men who wear it are seen as an exception to the rule. Some still believe the latter are abnormal or lacking in one way or another.
The HYPEBEAST article detailed the progress that has been made in normalizing makeup for men. Dior’s Fall 2019 Men’s show in Paris featured backstage images of men having their makeup done, something they don’t usually share. In early 2019, Chanel released their Boy de Chanel makeup line with the phrase “Beauty knows no gender.” Both show men in natural, no-makeup makeup looks that emphasize smooth skin and moisturized lips.
Whether it's Daniel Kaluuya wearing Fenty Beauty’s foundation at the 2018 Oscars or Frank Ocean sharing his skin care routine, celebrity men have made headlines simply for putting something other than shaving cream on their faces. Men who wear makeup are seen as something revolutionary simply because they go against our narrow expectations.
In order to ‘un-gender’ makeup, it must be literally taken at face value. It is simply a means of self-expression. Wearing it has no implications on sexual orientation or gender identity. Why? Because makeup is for everyone.