NEW MASCULINITY: MAKEUP HAS NEVER CARED ABOUT THE GENDER NORMS
One day we will just look back at the days when only women wore make up and laugh.
Five years ago the world literally lost an icon, Prince. In addition to originalizing funk, rock and every genre in between with his own style, he turned the concept of gender upside down and topped his iconic style with even more iconic make-up looks. No color was off limits to the High Priest of Pop, no pattern was considered extra. And as a pioneer, he destroyed the gender identity of makeup bags and expanded the boundaries of masculinity.
Once upon a time, in the words of I would Die 4 U, “I’m not a woman. I’m not a man. I’m something that you’ll never understand”, said the timeless icon Prince and Billy Idol, who arrived on the London punk scene in the mid-’70s, started doing his own stage make-up: some contour to highlight his razor-sharp cheeks and colored eyeliner to frame his blue eyes. … Forming the basis of his timeless look, Idol used to say, “With fashion and makeup, you can create yourself and your self-image.”
Then, David Bowie’s ‘gender-fluid’ style and make-up that came with Ziggy Stardust became notorious. While some critics thought Bowie’s chromatic, gender-fluid look was a distracting smoke act and a stage show, Pierre La Roche’s Ziggy makeup caused a splash. Punk rock icons and rock stars, who started to wear make-up, filled stages all over. Mick Jagger and Marc Bolan also discovered that feminizing the boundaries of masculinity on stage actually elevates men, using eyeliner and glitter to set themselves apart from a standard soloist.
Shortly after the glam rock of the ’70s came the ’80s club along with Leigh Bowery and Boy George. Robert Smith and later Marilyn Manson enjoyed their powdery porcelain complexions, deep black eyeshadows, and red lips.
Of course, glam rock was not the first time that men wore makeup. Before singing “I’m an Alligator,” Bowie learned the art of kabuki makeup from Japan’s most famous onnagata, Bandō Tamasaburō V, and spent considerable time among pantomime artists in the 1960s, training with Lindsay Kemp.
Full Male Beauty
Thanks to the radical characters of British glam rock and punk names 40 years ago, we have come to the days of Full Male Beauty. The beauty routine of feminine rock and punk icons has proven that expressing yourself through makeup is as important a part as clothing. Chanel has released a line of men’s makeup earlier this year. No matter who they are marketed to, Drag Queens, who have embraced beauty products for a long time, now set the makeup trends on beauty websites. Participating his first makeup campaign at the age of 17, McArthur became one of the most visible and outspoken trans models of Generation Z. L’Oréal, on the other hand, became the first beauty brand to choose a male model for its True Match foundation line with its #YoursTruly UK campaign. The cast included blogger and makeup artist Gary Thompson, also known as The Plastic Boy, and is the first man to lead a color cosmetics campaign in such a large market. Now he makes the most-watched makeup videos on TikTok and tries all of our favorite brands like Fenty, Byredo, Dior.
We live in a time when a baseball star, Alex Rodriguez, has a concealer line for men and punk rock stars are looking forward to release their own nail polish lines. Recently, after years of flashy and chaotic nail looks on the red carpet, Machine Gun Kelly’s first nail polish brand UN/DN LAQR was launched. The musician often expresses his feminine side through beauty and fashion, and he sees this as an encouraging statement: “I wonder what the world would look like if people didn’t care about what a man should look like”.
Breaking down the gender barriers of fashion, Harry Styles, and the feeling that lies at the center of the gender-neutral beauty brand Pleasing, comes from bodily freedom: “There is a really fun side of makeup where people play a character, but to me, ‘beauty’ is more and more about uncovering. Me seeing a color on a flower or a wallpaper or something and thinking, ‘Oh, I wanna put that on my nails.’ Pleasing, feels like it was so much more than nail polish,” said Mr. Styles.
Generation Z does not accept the beauty norms of previous generations. As a culture, we understand that gender is not a fixed concept. The beauty industry is no longer shaped by the big brands, but the make-up styles, products and campaigns of famous names that break gender barriers. In fact, the Z-favorite MAC, which released its first gender-fluid line with Harris Reed in 2018, this week featured male models with nail polish and make-up for the new face of MAC’s VIVA GLAM lipsticks, created in collaboration with the Keith Haring Foundation, lensed by artist Bryce Anderson.
Change has already been demanded and companies are finally listening. We want cosmetics and makeup be gender-neutral. Campaigns that market to women and feature only women in their advertisements are also rapidly disappearing. To bridge the gap between “masculine” and “feminine”, make-up offered a “genderless” and “colorful” culture. Remember, make-up is a form of expression just like music or art. It doesn’t have a gender. Never did. Never will.