Author and Photographer: Kim Chungong
We have the luxury of living in a time where inclusivity is booming, gender norms are being deconstructed, and traditions are changing. Our culture is becoming more open to people who have different religions, sexualities, and gender identities than what we’ve typically seen in the mainstream.
One of the newest trends in this surge of acceptance is the broadening definition of masculinity that is allowing men to be more expressive. Many men are partaking in activities that have been traditionally been considered “feminine” such as wearing wigs and dresses, getting their nails done, and wearing makeup. Although, while some people may think these are all groundbreaking feats for our society, they’re not. In fact, men across the globe have an extensive history of wearing makeup. In ancient Egypt, men used eyeliner to look more attractive and as a way to communicate their status and wealth. Some Roman men used red pigment on their cheeks and painted their nails. Elite men in Elizabethan England used white powder all over their faces and wore lavish wigs. It wasn’t until the Victorian Era in the 19th century that makeup began to be viewed negatively and associated with vanity and femininity. As religious values continued to permeate cultures around the world, mainstream definitions of masculinity became more narrow. By the start of the 20th-century makeup was only acceptable for women to wear. It was thanks to artists like David Bowe and Prince that makeup on men was introduced to modern times. Nowadays, makeup on men and boys is becoming more and more accepted in our society thanks to influencers like James Charles and Bretman Rock who have their own makeup lines with Morphe and Colourpop; and a growing culture of inclusivity and the broadening of gender norms.
As we’ve seen in history and today, makeup is not only for one gender, it is for everybody. What matters most is how one uses makeup to express themselves as an individual.