The new face of beauty is bold, boyish, and perfectly contoured. What does this say about our attitude towards gender? Are the boys here to stay?
When it comes to makeup, girls have it all (if you don’t mind shelling out £40 for a NAKED palette). The ’90s were arguably the decade that broke down fashion boundaries for women, when the ‘heroin chic’ trend popularised by Kate Moss made androgyny cool. Grunge’s emphasis on denim and dark, muted colours meant there was lots of overlap between male and female fashion trends.
Girls have huge freedom in fashion and beauty. However, although for a few generations it has been socially acceptable for women to dismiss typically feminine trends in beauty and fashion, for men these ideas have only recently been explored. Male beauty bloggers are playing a huge role in bringing men’s makeup to the mainstream, by proudly showcasing their talents (and flawless brows) and gathering enormous followings in the process. The trend has sparked enough interest that now it even has backing from Maybelline, who have recently announced the face of their latest campaign as Manny Gutierrez, 25-year-old beauty YouTuber and Instagram star from San Diego.
Gutierrez is working with Maybelline to launch Big Shot Mascara by Colossal, which was announced in early January 2017. He has a huge fanbase across the fashion community, but unfortunately not everyone is so supportive of his career. “I get hate every single day, saying I’m gay [and] going to hell, or that I don’t know what I’m doing or that I need help.” Gutierrez told Refinery29. However, the beauty star is using his fame as a platform to change these opinions. He recently responded to an open letter from conservative blogger Matt Walsh titled “Dads, We Can’t Expect Our Sons To Become Real Men If We Don’t Teach Them How”. The letter warned against what the “evils” of modern society are doing to boys today, arguing that “if a boy is left to learn about masculinity all alone in the wilds of modern society […] he’ll determine that the best thing a man can do is reject whatever is unique to men and begin aping the style, mannerisms, and behaviour of women.” Gutierrez responded to this by tweeting that his dad actually works for him and “is so proud of me.” Gutierrez Sr. stepped in and made his own response, which his son then posted on social media, saying “I know the words you speak are from lack of knowing anybody from the LGBT community.”
Maybelline’s campaign follows Covergirl’s announcement in October 2016 that the new face of their magazine would be James Charles, a 17-year-old boy from New York, USA. James got into makeup and beauty blogging in December 2015, when he started posting videos and tutorials on YouTube. He now has over 600,000 followers on his channel, and 1.3 million followers on Instagram. “I am so honoured and excited to be working with such an iconic brand,” James shared on Instagram after being announced as the new face of Covergirl. “I truly hope that this shows that anyone and everyone can wear makeup and can do anything if you work hard.” MAC has also employed 19-year-old East Coast makeup artist Thomas Halbert to showcase their latest collection.
The seemingly limitless amount of information being shared on social media websites means it is easier than ever before to learn tips, tricks, and trends about fashion and beauty. Gone are the days of wearing blue eyeshadow eyebrows because your sister’s My First Makeup Book from ‘98 (AKA your fashion bible) dictated it. Teenagers exploring makeup today bypass Miss Sporty and head straight to the Mac and NARS counters. They’ve watched the tutorials, they know what works, and they can contour like Kim K if they so desire. This means girls growing up in a makeup-centric culture are finding it easier than ever before to master different looks, but it also provides a free, anonymous space for people outside this target audience to learn. This includes teenage boys who are interested in makeup, either to appear more feminine or simply as a creative outlet. The beauty (pardon the pun) of social media platforms is that, instead of information being dictated to an audience, a community can grow around those who are posting and watching videos. This means there are no static rules on who can create or enjoy the content. If a boy wants to participate, they can turn on their webcam or snap a selfie. Instagram and YouTube are millennial strongholds, where ideas about gender are defined by a new generation. This has created all-encompassing, non-judgmental platforms for boys to access information about makeup and beauty. Bloggers like Patrick Simondac (@patrickstarr) and Alexander Rivera (@alexfaction) have an impressive fanbase and have built careers around their interest in makeup. The online makeup community is globalised and immensely varied but with one key interest in common; therefore, these beauty boys have earned fame and respect because of their talent and creativity.
It’s a true marker of social progress that we can step away from a fixed notion of the ‘masculine ideal’. We still have a long way to go before we can truly say we have moved on from a gendered society, and call us wildly optimistic, but each generation seems to be edging closer to a more relaxed, equal way of looking at gender. Joe Biden can cry on live television when surprised with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and still unquestionably be considered a Strong Man, whereas 30 years ago he would have lost respect from the public for seeming less ‘masculine’. Boys like James Charles and Patrick Simondac are icons of the new masculinity. Their community is friendly, powerful, and growing larger every day, and for boys discovering makeup in 2017, the future is as bright as their poppin’ highlight.
Do you think makeup can ever be unisex? Let us know below or tweet us @santmagazine
Words: Dido Gompertz
Hashtags: #makeup #beauty #unisex #instagram #youtube #MannyGutierrez #Covergirl #Maybelline