Cover Boy

Janet Song, Staff Writer

Recently this month, CoverGirl hit the headlines when James Charles became the first boy to become the new face of the popular cosmetics brand. His quick rise to fame, from a well-known makeup artist on social media, to his new debut at CoverGirl, has brought both praise and controversy. It has brought to the attention of the increasing number of male makeup artists, and also raises the questions on the gender barriers in society today.

At Ward Melville, hints of makeup are barely seen on the faces of male students.  “I’m worried people will think I’m gay,” a friend tells me. “Makeup isn’t a manly thing.”

It is eleven at night and I have asked him if he will be comfortable with being photographed and having makeup applied to him. I am working on a project to show how some of the male students in Ward Melville feel with the ideas of masculinity and makeup. Even though we have made changes through history, the concepts of femininity and masculinity have not been able to clash perfectly with each other.

“[…] it’s usually a thing [makeup] that gay men do,” he argues. “I’m not gay. I don’t wanna be a gay pride symbol, not that I’m a homophobe.” But he is happy to participate in the project, because “it sounds fun, though.”

Other guy friends of mine share similar thoughts. For them,“makeup is a no go.” They aren’t thrilled with the thought of their friends finding out about this project. They are afraid of being harassed from being in this project. They do not want people to perceive them as being drag queens or homosexual because they know that they will be mocked.

I try offering some insight. I tell them that makeup isn’t always focused on the drag queen appearance, that cosmetics can be used for subtle details. By 11:30, I’ve managed to convince only four of my guy friends in on this project.

Tuesday begins the photo shoot. As Rachel, the selected makeup artist begins to apply the foundation on the guys, I sit behind the camera, appreciating their comments. Kian flinches at the sight of an eyebrow curler. Ryan is uncomfortable with the mascara dangling on his eyelashes and asks multiple times if the stuff washes off. “How do you do this every day?” Jaedon cries, smacking his lips as he tries to get used to the lipstick. And MJ comments, “For some reason, I feel weirdly better.”

After I snap photos and they examine their new appearance, I ask them about what the purpose of the project is and their opinions on beauty in our society.

Kian says, “As far as the gender barrier of ‘Should men wear makeup? Should women wear makeup?’ I feel you should do whatever you wanna do and the way you wanna express yourself. I assume [this project] was a general social experiment to show how makeup affects how one sees himself based on [male subjects], considering how a man, or how society usually expects men to not wear makeup.”