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Metrosexuality in Your Face: Male Makeup

Mark Simpson on why those protests over male makeup are just fake-tanned hypocrisy

(Guardian CIF, 13 August, 2008)

Oh, the gnashing and wailing of (bleached) teeth and pulling of (gelled) hair recently in some sections of the UK press over male makeup, after UK High Street Superdrug’s launched a new line of male cosmetics!

The way some commentators went on, you’d think that instead of selling concealer, ‘manscara’, and ‘guyliner’, Superdrug were actually selling home castration kits.

Rather clenched articles by male journos in liberal metropolitan newspapers such as the Guardian and The Times decrying the trend reminded me, in a mealy-mouthed way, of the uglier farm boys in the North Yorks market town where I currently live who call prettier lads ‘faggots’ for wearing makeup. (Though the farm boys mean it more affectionately).

The fuss wasn’t so much about cosmetics being used by men – we’ve been here many, many times before over the last few years. And what men today don’t use moisturiser/ conditioner/mousse /teeth-whitening toothpaste /fake tan/eye gel? Or Immac for Men? Especially farm boys and journos.

No, male makeup brought out some in a rash because it’s out-of-the-bathroom-closet male cosmetics. Shameless metrosexuality. Metrosexuality without hypocrisy or apology. Metrosexuality that literally gets in your face.

Most metro cosmetics until now have been about enhancing male beauty behind closed doors, leaving at least a notional amount of discreet deniability that saves everyone’s sensibilities: “Oh, no, I don’t use product: I just wake up looking like a million dollars”. Maintaining, however laughably, the fiction that male attractiveness, unlike the female variety, is entirely unselfconscious and unaffected.

Like metrosexuality, male makeup smudges consoling stereotypes about what is ‘gay’ and ‘straight’, ‘male’ and ‘female’, ‘normal’ and ‘freaky’. It outs the masculine need to feel pretty.

After all, once they’re given permission, men who prefer the ladies are probably more likely to be interested in make-up than the kind who prefer men – which is why some of them protest so much. They know that if they give in to their urges they’ll end up looking like Louis XIV.

Besides, the future is already made-up. While ageing journalists raged against the abomination of male makeup in the (dying) print media, the pretty, pumped, usually half-naked young male celeb wannabes on Big Brother were regularly flaunting foundation, eyeliner and black nail varnish, just like their Emo heroes.

Meanwhile at the Olympics in Beijing the fourteen-year-old Brit diver Tom Daley was showing off a fake tan so dark it looked like foundation.

The arrival of male make-up on the British High Street shows that in the age of metrosexuality nothing that women do or use to be beautiful can be considered off limits to men. In a post-feminist, mediated world, today’s young males aren’t going to allow the ‘fairer sex’ any unfair advantages – including being able to look fabulous the morning after a heavy night out.

Or being the only ones that can leave their face on someone’s pillow.

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5 thoughts on “Metrosexuality in Your Face: Male Makeup”

  1. Sorry for going on a dissertation about this topic, but I am fascinated how people can believe that they can eat garbage, drink and party all night and look great just because they put some cream on their skin. I am not saying that cosmetics don’t have any merits; they do. My point is that they are the icing on the cake, and the cake comes from the inside out. I hope you can appreciate the point I’m trying to make on some level.

  2. Saturated fats age you by requiring enormous amounts of antioxidants to be metabolized that would otherwise be used to repair cell damage, as well as inhiting cellular enzymatic processes of DNA-repair, while simple carbohydrates, like table sugar and refined flour, age you by increasing insulin resistence, flushing vitamins from the body as well as increasing a process called glycation, which is essentially the formation of damaged proteins by the simple sugars binding with the amino acids to form damaged and faulty proteins that are associated with everything from cancer to wrinkles. Processed chemicals and preservatives don’t directly age you, but they make you look like shit because they must be detoxified by the body, and one of the ways the body does this is by expelling them through the epidermis, which results in skin rashes and boils. The combination of a diet rich in saturated fats, simple sugars and presevatives results in a dramatically accelerated ageing process, making the person look elderly by age 45 or so. If the person is also a smoker and drinker, then make that 35. Meat, besides being rich in saturated fats which is bad for the aforementioned reasons, rottens in the intestines and results in a sickly digestive tract. One of the foremost reason why Soutern European boys are renown World-wide for their beauty is because they eat traditional diets with little of the modern garbage. Sure, that is now changing due to Americanism(trash), but they are still pretty traditional. I know for a fact that boys in Ancient Athens ate a diet of olives, figs, apples and small amounts of nuts and cheese. And that’s it! And they looked so sublime that they had older men and women committing mass suicide over them. I know this guy who is 37 and I swear that he looks like he’s in his early 20s. Most people assumne he’s 21 or 22. The most they give him is 25 – at the most! If you think that a guy looking 15 years younger is impossible and abnormal, think again. What is really abnormal is just how sickly our modern society is. Abnormal is for someone to have wrinkles and grey hair at age 37, which in ancient Greece were traits associated with octogenarians and nonagenarians!

  3. You know, I gota agree with Stephan. Beauty comes from the inside out, and not the other way around. A beautiful complexion results far more from a liver – when the liver needs to process too much fats it gives you jaundice, which makes your skin look yellowish and sickly, and the chemicals in processed foods result in cutaneous eruptions as the body tries to detoxify – and intestines – with the exception of fructose, simple carbohydrates ferment in the intestines and that causes the intestines to push water from the entire body, including from the epidermis which makes it dehydrated, as well as vitamins C and E, which makes the epidermis lose that lustrous and vibrant look, to metabolize the aldehydes that are the by-products of the metabolization of simple sugars – are working properly than from any cosmetics or products you can by.

  4. “… and what men today don’t use moisturiser/conditioner/mousse/teeth whitening toothpaste/fake tan/eye gel – or Immac for Men?”

    Err, me. I wash my hands with soap after a crap and that’s it. No shampoo. No moisturiser. No gel. No deodorant. Just organic simple toothpaste (no petroleum-based guk in it), a pair of nail clippers, a pumice stone, a hairbrush and a hair/beard trimmer. Sorted.

    Very cheap. Healthy. Natural. And for those few of you that like men who smell of themselves (instead of someone else’s expensive idea of what you should smell like) then that will go down quite nicely thank you.

    I’m very attached to what reasonable amount of body hair I have and I go for it big time on other men and for me a man with a shaved, or even worse, depilated, body is a real turn-off.

    I am, it must be said, part of an endangered species though. Well, at least until the price of oil rises to even dizzier heights than at present which will in turn push up the cost of all those petroleum based cosmetics even higher than their currently crazy prices that men, and maybe even women, might begin to wonder if it’s really all necessary …

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