When Will the Beauty Revolution Come to America?
My YouTube recommended homepage can be summarized in five words: luminous skin and luscious eyelashes. In other words: makeup tutorials. I can’t help but watch them, even if they don’t actually teach me anything. I’m just so awed by each person’s transformation that I get hooked into an endless cycle. What always strikes me is the power of makeup - the confidence it brings women who aren’t happy with parts of the way they look, and the ability it gives those women to enhance or conceal whatever they want. In other words, makeup gives the user choice. I’ve often wondered though, why isn’t it the same for men? Why don’t they wear makeup too? It’s not like men are above makeup. Everyone has insecurities they’d like to hide and features they’d want to enhance. So why haven’t men turned to makeup as well?
One interesting case I’d like to point out is South Korea. In Korea, a photo ID is an essential part of one’s job application, causing appearances to be of utmost importance, not only in one’s work life, but in one’s daily life as well. As a result, Korean men have turned to makeup as a way of enhancing their facial features. What also has a large part to play in this turn to cosmetics, however, is Korean popular culture. Korean male pop-stars and actors typically wear makeup and regularly sport eyeliner and eyeshadow while actors are known to put significant effort into their skin care regiment. The widespread exposure to men who wear and thrive off of makeup may be at the core of why Korean men have felt relatively comfortable turning to makeup as a way to improve their facial features. To be sure, the use of heavy eyeliner and eyeshadow amongst Korean men is neither popular nor widespread, but BB cream, eyebrow shading, and other natural makeup consist of many a Korean man’s daily routine.
To me, Korea’s beauty revolution amongst men reveals something key: exposure. Unlike in America, Korean male celebrities have in some ways normalized the idea of men wearing makeup. It seems less scary to wear makeup when you see that some people are celebrated and admired because of it. Perhaps that is what is lacking in America’s popular culture - a new way of looking at beauty. Instead of stigmatizing those who wear makeup, or defining it as something stereotypically female, American popular culture could celebrate it as something that has no bearing on one’s masculinity or femininity. If more men were to wear makeup, perhaps they would not only feel more confident in their own skin, but also ultimately understand why women wear makeup and why it is not something to be ashamed of. Rather, it is an act of empowerment that allows one to dictate exactly how one wants to feel and be perceived in the world.