Makeup goes genderless
February 17, 2017
Last October, social media creator James Charles became the first male hired by Covergirl as an ambassador. He has been featured in ad campaigns for the company while maintaining a substantial social media presence in the beauty and makeup community. Does this development represent a detachment of makeup and female gender roles?
Charles is not the only male to make waves in the beauty industry. Nonetheless, similar to Charles, many male beauty gurus come from the world of social media. Most notably, Jeffree Star created an entire cosmetics brand, Jeffree Star Cosmetics, out of his social media fame. Other prominent male beauty gurus include Manny Mua and Miles Jai.
Social media facilitated the growth of these gurus’ preeminence in the beauty industry. Charles and Jai each have over 500,000 subscribers on Youtube, Mua has over 2 million and Star has over 3 million. Where did this popularity come from? Some attribute it to the function of society.
“It has to do with the way society works,” junior Peter McCann said. “People look for something new and he’s something new.”
Despite the talent these gurus possess, the portrayal of men as makeup consumers came as a shock to a society with such a feminine perspective on makeup. But how excluded have men been from the beauty industry?
“I think [men] are becoming more prominent on what we see,” McCann said. “There was already probably a very similar amount of men that were in the business parts of it. It’s just that now it’s more socially acceptable to be in the parts that we see in advertisements.” As it turns out, this speculation is more true than many may realize. The CEOs of cosmetics companies L’Oreal, Revlon, Estee Lauder, OPI Nail Polish, and MAC Cosmetics, and many others are all male. These men have simply remained in the office spaces and stayed away from the studios.
Nevertheless, men are coming to embrace makeup and other beauty products. According to a study by JWTIntelligence called “The State of Men,” 60 percent of millennial-age men use women’s skincare products. Why is it that men are showing themselves in this new light?
“People are becoming more accepting of different ideologies,” McCann said.
While most men do not wear makeup on a daily basis, many have tried it before. Junior Michael Fein recalls how he put makeup on for “Drag Day” at his summer camp.
“It was a day that all the guys dressed up as girls and the girls did the guys’ makeup,” Fein said. However his experience with makeup was not so fond of a memory.
“[Makeup] is annoying. It takes so long to put on and it sticks to your face like paint,” Fein said. “I’ve gained an appreciation for people who spend an hour or more every day putting on makeup.”
While makeup may not be for all men, it continues to gain traction with many men. But the general reaction to male makeup usage tends to be the questioning of a man’s masculinity. Opinions on whether or not a man loses their masculinity with the usage of makeup differ.
“It doesn’t diminish a man’s masculinity because years ago makeup used to be the thing for boys,” Fein said. This claim is historically accurate. Ancient Egyptian men used to wear black kohl around their eyes, similar to modern-day eyeliner. Around the same time, wealthy Chinese and Japanese men, as well as women, painted their nails to signify their higher status in society.
“If you’re wearing girls makeup then yes, it does diminish your masculinity,” McCann said. However, this doesn’t have to be a negative point.
“It doesn’t have to be a bad thing,” McCann said. “That’s like asking if wearing black clothes is different from wearing white clothes.”