Men’s make-up. Fabulous or freaky?
Last week, I bumped into a male friend wearing make-up. Eyeliner, to be precise. Or ‘guyliner’, as it’s apparently known. My friend, incidentally, isn’t gay or a goth or an emo.
He’s not David Bowie on a jaunt to Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Nope, my mate is a 40-something father-of-two and we were at a child’s birthday party. Did I mention he was also wearing nail polish?
Anyway, there we were, chatting about schools and work, and the whole time I was thinking, mate, what’s with the make-up? So, being the sensitive and thoughtful person that I am, I asked, “Are you wearing eyeliner?”
Huge mistake. He was embarrassed and denied it. I felt embarrassed and tried to pretend I hadn’t asked.
Now, I’m no grooming expert, but I’ve been spruced up in the Nine Network make-up chair enough times to know a nude eye from a smoky one. My friend wasn’t trying to pull off the Jared Leto heroin-chic look; he’d just done a bit of subtle accentuating in the outer corners. But why so coy?
“Oh God, everyone’s wearing it, but no one talks about it,” says another mate Alex, who works in TV and knows about these things. “It’s been game-on in the gay world, and now it’s infiltrated the straight world, so guys have to step up. It’s survival of the most attractive.”
It’s no longer enough to brush your teeth and slap on a bit of SPF. Men are now opting for tinted moisturiser, foundation, concealer, eyebrow gel, bronzer and fake tan. Men’s make-up brand Studio5ive even does a beard shader that simulates a five-o’clock shadow (which begs the question of what you do with your real five-o’clock shadow).
“They’re aiming for highly contrived understatement,” explains Alex, which sounds like the ‘no-make-up make-up’ look women have been practising for years.
I reckon it’s Tom Ford, the former Gucci designer and poster boy for male grooming, who’s responsible for updating the traditional ‘sh*t, shower and shave’.
Loved his film A Single Man, but now he’s come out with a manifesto for the modern man, imploring him to “put on the best version of yourself when you go out in the world”. (Clearly his missive hasn’t reached the bloke who wanders shirtless and shoeless around my local Coles, eating gherkins out of the jar.)
The thing is, I like a groomed man, but I don’t want him fossicking around in my make-up bag or discussing the merits of Lancôme concealer over Clinique. Nor do I want mascara on my pillow – unless it’s mine. A single girlfriend tells me that while she used to check out a date’s bathroom cabinet for signs of a girlfriend (tampons, moisturiser), now she tallies the number of products. “If he has more than me, it’s not a starter.”
To be honest, with the blurring of gender roles and the assertion of women in the workplace, it’s to be expected that men have veered into this territory. With our constant championing of traits such as sensitivity and tenderness, is it any wonder men have looked at personal vanity and thought, yeah, well, I better have a bit of that, too?
But, before you overdo the bronzer, boys, listen up. Forgive us our contrariness but, give or take the odd bum-crack, you’re just fine. Sure, conceal that zit and spritz yourself with a bit of Marc Jacobs, but if you must go the guyliner, keep it secret men’s business.
You see, effortlessness is sexy. Just ask us. We spend hours trying to achieve it.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…