Men wearing makeup: why do people have a problem with it?

Ashley Clarke explains how sexuality and appearance don’t always go hand in hand


Pete Burns, Boy George and David Bowie are obvious users, but Zac Efron, Robbie Williams and Bradley Cooper?

The idea of men wearing make-up has often been noted as a faux pas in society; however, there appears to be a new influx of guy-liner on the scene.

Our male makeup expert, Ashley Clarke, explains the social stigma that often comes with putting your face on.

Ashley is sick of the stigma that often comes with men wearing makeup

I started wearing makeup when I was sixteen. It started off as some of my mum’s YSL concealer that I would use to cover up a bit of sunburn on my nose.

I liked how it made my skin look, so I quickly moved onto foundation. I remember feeling so much more confident, but at the same time terrified somebody would notice my secret.

I’d be sat in a class at school, when the person next to me would start staring at me with a frowning smile, half-mocking, half-confused. ‘Ashley, is that… makeup?’

The question hits me like a wet wipe to the cheek. I suddenly become conscious of every single pore on my face. Is there a streak of foundation across my jaw that I’ve neglected to rub in?

‘What? No. Of course I’m not.’ I lie, rubbing my lips together incase my lip tint has gone uneven. I feel flustered and awkward, like I’ve been caught doing something I shouldn’t be doing.

I saw it as a guilty pleasure. I hid it ferociously from those around me, embarrassed to be using something that simply wasn’t intended for me.

Before and after applying Lancôme’s Hypnôse mascara

In life, we are made aware of our gender from a young age. Shirts are for boys; dresses are for girls. And it’s more than a semi-colon that divides those clauses.

It is fair to say we are taught it is normal or even healthy for boys to be masculine, and for girls to be feminine. But what happens when a boy displays behaviour that could be considered feminine or vice versa?

Individuals that step outside of these assigned gender barriers are often faced with disapproval from those around them. After being comfortable in wearing foundation, I would still get the whole ‘God Ashley, you’ll be wearing eyeliner next!’ (As if eyeliner was yet another well-groomed step towards the hellfire.)

Gossip magazines love a male makeup story almost as much as they love a celebrity wardrobe malfunction. Countless articles come up about the riveting debate of whether or not Zac Efron is wearing concealer.

Without fail I will always come across the inevitable gem of an opinion voiced by some twelve year old girl so heavily saturated with hetero-normative values she’s practically the love child of Barbie and Hitler. Her opinion is: ‘Men shouldn’t wear make-up.’

Ashley is not shy to the world of nail art

For some reason a lot of people still believe for men to be ‘real’ men they have to follow certain rules. Indeed, a lot of this belief comes simply from insecurity. Homophobic reactions to men wearing make-up come from men who aren’t secure in their own sexuality. It’s not breaking news appearance and sexuality don’t always correlate.

To those who feel the need to question and berate a person doing something considered ‘unusual’ for their gender: whatever happened to make you so boring? Because if anything, how dull is it to abide to all the thousands of rules and limits that come with being a man or a woman?

When it comes down to appearance, it is not up to others what looks good and what doesn’t. If we as individuals enjoy wearing something, then let us wear it. Don’t quash somebody else’s courage of self-expression with your own insecurities.

And if you want to wear something but are scared of what someone else might say, please, just do it anyway. It feels good in the end.

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