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For their November Issue, men’s magazine, GQ, decided to question the philosophy behind masculinity.

For years we have all been conditioned to associate certain things with only being for women and certain things only for men. Make up has solely been accepted as something that should only be used by women, however, recent years have seen that notion challenged. The editors at GQ decided to explore this with their men’s beauty portfolio, which showcased the history of men wearing make up. Those glam rock days of the 70’s, when rock stars carelessly flaunted faces filled with blush, eyeliner and lipstick are referenced in the spread where different men in the industry such as Luka Sabbat and eighties rock star, Billy Idol are flawlessly made up.

GQ men's make up

Looking at this spread I can’t help asking myself exactly when did makeup become just a girl thing? Anyone who’s taken history in school knows that makeup hasn’t always been for women. In ancient Egypt, men commonly used kohl eyeliner to exaggerate the shape of the eyes and eyebrows. This was to show wealth and status as well as to show their masculinity. Certain colors of eye-shadow was used to ward off illnesses and spirits.  In places like Ancient Rome and England, men used white powder to give the appearance of a fairer complections.  The first century saw men applying red pigment to their cheeks and even painting their fingernails.  Fast forwarding to the 1980’s when David Bowie and Boy George reigned supreme, it’s interesting to see how much men wearing make up had been socially accepted. The end of the eighties, however, saw men trading make up for a more understated social norm. Men were no longer taking those risks and the art form died with the trend. In the last couple of years, fashion houses such as Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana created cosmetics lines targeted specifically towards men.

GQ Men's Make Up

Could all of this be a precursor for a bigger movement? Will men wearing make up be completely normal 100 years from now? New trends pop up everyday, however, old habits die hard. Even though I myself personally, am not a make up person, I don’t mind a little concealer for those days when the circles under my eyes match my roots. It would be nice to look forward to a future of true gender neutrality, however, it’s hard to say whether or not men will learn to put their macho pride to the side long enough to embrace something new. Accepted or not, the conversation about masculinity needs to be had. A little eyeliner here or a little concealer there shouldn’t be what defines your “masculinity”. That word is a state of mind that can’t be wiped away with the stroke of a make up brush.

Written By: Dominique Bedell

Dominique Bedell

Dominique Bedell




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