Maybe they’re born with it

hunnypleaseWonderful news. Major cosmetic brands seem to have -finally- jumped on the MAC wagon, and are breaking their demographic wide open.
The branding effect seems to head for an escalating curve. With James Charles as our new CoverGirl, Maybeline now closes the ranks with youtube star and fashionista extraordinaire Manny Gutierrez. Aside from the fact that he is fierce, fabulous and a male identifying human with a face to die for, he is also gay and to top it of, a human of color.

 

Hold the phone. Mainstream representation? Can it be?
Well thank you, 2017, for starting us off with a queertastic BANG.
But.

There are a couple of things we mustn’t overlook.
Firstly, hot and happening Manny certainly is not the first man ever to start sporting faux feather eyelashes. What click bait seems to forget, is the proud broad shoulders of the drag community it’s standing on. RuPaul, anyone?

 

That show, commercial, American, objectifying, flat and egocentric as it may be, has done for drag what drag could never do for itself. It made it mainstream. It made drag acceptable. A shocking realization perhaps, that we need brands, shows and blatant marketing like this to push against the norm. But an important one. It shows that we’re an impressionable species, and that we listen most to those with the greatest influence.
This can mean power, money, or more recently, likes.

The accuracy of their representation aside.

 

Social Media has started to play a very big role in acceptance, in rules of conduct, and in interaction, across the Western nations. The increase in diverse representation they have surged, celebrating stars like Manny Gutierrez, is marvelous. No longer bound by geography, it is ever easier to gain support and love from those not directly around us, but with us on this dirt spec none the less. We have more role models to choose from. We have raised small, digital revolutions debating the use of pronouns. We have access to a library that would have given Apollo himself a hard on. Actually, if you dig through it, I’m sure you’ll find men and women alike have enjoyed make-up ever since Cleo rubbed Kohl on her face. So no, men in foundation isn’t new. What is new, is that our current society seems to be embracing that. I can think of no greater time to celebrate they who made it possible. Not make-up brands, but the queer community.

 

What is also new, is brands catching on to the shift in gender roles, looking to cash in on it.
Cosmetic companies have always marketed towards gender, but more accurately, towards the feelings, scents, shapes and desires associated with it. One of the best angles for pushing products is to suckle on the tit of insecurity. Since the dawn of soap, we’ve been bombarded with ever more impossible beauty ideals and ever more expensive creams that do not do their job. Where marketeers used to solely target female identifying persons, they have since started to shift towards the other genders for over a century now. We see it in Nivea FOR MEN, we see it in razor packaging. We see it, more alarmingly, in an increase in eating disorders, fitness addiction, fat shaming and the healthy lifestyle hype. And this across all ages, and all genders. Beauty is no longer a sole female social pressure, it has become a human one.

 

And where no doubt, Maybeline and CoverGirl will advert their shift in models under the equality banner it is worth noting that they have done very little to promote it, until it was in their best financial interest. Like Social Media, make-up is a tool. The way we wield it, and the marketing beneath it, are what make it beneficial, or destructive. Especially when looking at special effects or haute couture, one can not but acknowledge it as artistry. When looking at pride, the confidence granted by contouring is not to be taken lightly.

 

However, right now, we are steered away from expression, and towards the adoration of the impossible porcelain self. I fear a world where none dare show up to work without three coats. I fear the further objectification of the human body, and I fear that in celebrating diversity, we are in the process of blending away each and every oddity that makes us ourselves. So by all means, endow yourself with all the glitter your heart desires. Fear no retribution from grey skinned men in worn T-shirts and football hats.

 

But let us celebrate expression, and the naked diversity of the human species too.
Let us see beauty in unexpected places, in Vitiligo, baldness, armpits and stray hairs.
For it is not them that determine our definition of beauty.
As always, it starts with us.

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