Men Wearing Makeup And What It Means For Women

by Ada Guzman

One random Wednesday night, on a campus well-known for its progressive lean, a friend wonders aloud to me if that cute boy in her class with the nail polish is gay or not. He doesn’t have to be, she says. I shrug and ask her if she’d go out with him if he were interested. “ Of course,” she replies. “He’s funny. And smart. And that color looks good on him.”

The times, they are a’changin’—for men and women.         

Ladies—whether due to societal urges or a burning desire for longer lashes—spend an average of $15,000 on beauty products over their lifetimes. But men are starting to give them a run for their money, and they don’t have to be gay or conducting a sociological experiment to indulge in a pedicure or buy moisturizer specifically intended for faces. The only question: Is the world ready for that? 

Turns out, even in the 21st century, men can get a lot of flack for wearing a little eyeliner. One dude on Buzzfeed proved it: Isaac Fitzgerald spent a week wearing makeup to and from work and learned a thing or two from it. According to his story, no one at the office notices him donning mascara and longer lashes on the first day. But once he applies the lipstick on day four, attention starts picking up. Most of his female coworkers compliment or critique him; most of his male coworkers barely make eye contact. “Men walk in and out of stalls and glance at me from the corners of their eyes,” he reports. “I ask one familiar face how his holidays were and he fills me in on his New Year’s Eve without looking at me once.”

At the office, Fitzgerald doesn’t have a tough time of it. But it would be completely different if the experiment was repeated in bars at night donning mascara or lipstick or foundation. See, the country isn’t really there yet in terms of allowing guys to wear “girly stuff” without pinning an assumed identity on them. Until it becomes just something that some guys do, most men wearing beauty products marketed to women will experience social stigma.  

But that night on campus, my friend just thought a cute boy was wearing a fierce polish—and the confidence to pull off something that most men can’t was reason enough to find him intriguing. We say rock on dudes—just make sure to put back our makeup when you borrow it. 

Image via Buzzfeed

You may also like

Get the print magazine.

The best of BUST in your inbox!

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

About Us

Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

©2023 Street Media LLC.  All Right Reserved.