Monday, October 11, 2010

In defense of men wearing makeup

Sometimes, when I'm putting on makeup, I think how lucky I am to be of the sex for whom this behavior is socially acceptable. I absolutely can and do go out with none on, but I like having the option of no undereye circles, of tooth-whitening (seriously, my dentist recommended this) red lipstick, or tan-illusion-producing pale or nude shades. And what a difference eyeliner makes. Poor, poor men who don't have this possibility!

I'm going to suggest that, rather than embracing no-makeup as a feminist ideal, we put some paint on men.*

Exhibit A: James Franco. Not how I'd have styled him - bright eyeshadow and bright lipstick? - but it kind of works. Note the lack of wig, décolletage - he's not exactly in full drag, but a bit beyond man-in-makeup.

Exhibit B: Franco all made up reminded me of Tim Curry in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Also extreme, but I remember seeing this movie quite young - 8? 9? - and thinking, men in makeup, why not?

Exhibit C: Rufus Wainwright. A pretty man made prettier by eyeliner. Not the example, I realize, that will convince anyone that eyeliner on a man signals heterosexuality, but hey. Women are noticing Rufus. If men who want to be noticed by women take Rufus's lead, fantastic, but it's not as though terribly many gay men are walking around with eyeliner, either. Whatever subset of the male population gets the message, a step in the right direction. But yeah, for this change to occur, it's probably essential for straight men to be involved.

Exhibit D: Period Dress. I'm not convinced blush does Hugh Laurie any favors, but the point of this example is that things change - makeup has not always, in all cultures, been gender-specific.

*What I'm really advocating is options. Girls and women should be able to go without, boys and men with.


Matt said...

I don't care if men (or women) want to wear makeup or not. They should do what they want, and I'm generally in favor of some gender-bending. But an important fact to keep in mind is that stubble + makeup = hideously gross. That doesn't rule out all makeup, of course, but should warn most men off of the worst thing- foundation.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

Then we're in agreement - options!

I'm no great fan of foundation, either, but suspect there would be ways for men to wear it - would need to ask an actor, probably. I'm still not entirely sure what women are supposed to do with the stuff.

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