Graham Reid explores the boundaries between what is socially acceptable for women and what is for men. The topic of where gender lines are drawn, and how they are beginning to be blurred, is a controversial current topic and one worthy of much discussion.
From lipstick to lashes, the makeup industry is luscious, loving and lucrative. Ladies from all walks of life neatly apply their lipstick, blend their foundation with a beauty sponge and create fantastically shaped eyebrows with a spoolie brush and crayon before starting their day. They leave home in the morning feeling confident and bold. They strut to work bursting with the self-confidence that they can take on the world and attack their to-do list with vivacity and determination. They look in the mirror and say their morning affirmations, “I feel, look and act fabulously”. Meanwhile their husbands walk sluggishly to the office looking tired, aged and patchy with the dry skin that is socially unacceptable to treat and cover. Why do we have this gender divide in which men fear that if they take care of their bodies, they will be ridiculed by their mates in the pub as a homosexual? The last time I checked, the only way to define gay was through the sexual attraction to the same sex; not by the fact that someone likes to apply YSL mascara to widen the appearance of his or her eyes.
So what is makeup exactly? I would define it as the set of beauty products designed to enhance someone’s natural beauty and appearance: something that can make your red lips redder, your lashes darker and your complexion smoother, to name a few. You are not changing your identity or being ashamed of yourself. You are allowing your wonderful body to be seen in the best possible light. As for contouring, it really is all about lighting. Cosmetics are a magical bag of potions and lotions that have the potential to transform your relationship with yourself and rocket your self-confidence to infinity and beyond, reaping the awards on the way. Makeup falls, gracefully, under the category of, what I call, physical enhancers: clothing, gym memberships and healthy eating are a few examples of such enhancers. We all want to feel amazing all of the time. We all want to look great all of the time. We all want to be the best version of ourselves. Makeup does exactly that.
Why would we want to enhance ourselves anyway? It sounds like we are some kind of computer hard drive, getting an upgrade in memory size. Let’s look at a situation with which most of us are, unfortunately, familiar: acne. Can you remember waking up to a massive, throbbing, red SPOT on your face? Do you remember the anxiety of going outside? Do you remember watching people attentively to make sure they weren’t staring at it? Do you remember feeling like you had a mount so big that NASA had received several sightings of a new planet? If, and indeed when, treatment for acne doesn’t work, they next best thing to do is cover it and regain some self-confidence. Lucky for our female counterparts they can do this. They apply some concealer and with a flick of a magic wand, that troublesome spot is gone. Yet men are forced, implicitly by society, to expose a potentially sensitive aspect. We would all agree that it is cruel to force someone to do something they don’t want to, wouldn’t we? Imagine your biggest insecurity. Now imagine it being visible to everyone you pass today in the street. How do you feel?
When we examine the progression of beauty and fashion trends throughout the years, the lines between male and female norms are blended just as much as a successful smoky-eye look. Do you think the previous generation could imagine, in their wildest dreams, males in skinny jeans? Do you think they could fathom a woman exposing her skin in public? Fashion is constantly changing and evolving and there is no longer a ‘one-size-fits-all’ situation: a bit like choosing your foundation shade. In a world where the vast majority of us stand against oppression (in every sense of the word), it is to be hoped that the average citizen would never tell someone what they can and cannot do; especially if that entails prohibiting something that makes them happy and feel better about themselves.
To that I say: stop your blushing men! If you want to razzle-dazzle your skin and create some killer cheekbones, then do it. Spare yourself the danger of melanoma from exposure to sunlight and reach for your matte bronzer. Sculpt an eyelid so alluring, it would scare Johnny Depp. And for heaven’s sake be confident in your skin and try everything you want in the wonderful beauty industry until you find your perfect-match. Mine is Estée Lauder double wear light, if you are interested.