Breaking Boundaries: Male-bodied students use makeup to push against societal norms

Becky Perelman

Jackie Perelman, Arts Writing Editor

David Bowie, Alice Cooper and Prince were at the forefront of androgyny. They wore makeup before it was socially acceptable for a man to do so, and their uniqueness earned them an enormous fan base. Why, then, has it taken so long for the first male Covergirl to be chosen? Why are so many people still judged for wearing makeup?

For someone who presents as male-bodied, wearing makeup is still outside of the norm. If they do wear makeup, they are criticized. However, some students are pushing against societal norms and are using makeup as a form of expression.

According to senior Zander Slayton, who has been wearing makeup since the end of the last school year, students are worried about being judged.

“I think a lot of the time people think, ‘Oh, it’s for women,’ and that it makes you look girly. But you can wear makeup without looking girly,” Zander Slayton said.

Junior Lia Rosenblatt, who also has a passion for makeup, said that though there is still a lot of progress to be made, the fact that people who do not identify as women are now able to wear makeup without receiving enormous backlash is a huge step.

“I don’t think any person should be excluded from anything that they want to do, based on their assigned gender or social norms,” Rosenblatt said. “I think that male-bodied are definitely more vulnerable to being made fun of for something like that.”

Pierce eighth grader Oliver Slayton said that when they first began wearing makeup, most people responded positively. However, not everyone was supportive.

“It shocked some people,” Oliver Slayton said. “Some people were silent in that they don’t support it, and there were people who voiced that they don’t support it. Honestly, I don’t care at all if they don’t support it, because if they don’t support it then they don’t support me, and I don’t need those people in my life.”

Junior Richard Lee, who also wears makeup, said he is not concerned with his peers’ judgments.

“If people do judge me then that’s their problem,” Lee said. “I’m going to do whatever. If I want to put on a full face of makeup just to go to one class, maybe I’ll do that.”

Oliver Slayton remembered the first time they wore makeup to school.

“I remember my first palette. It was the sweet peach palette and it’s a brown neutral colored palette, and I remember putting on this really light peachy shade, and actually being scared. What are people going to think?” Oliver Slayton said. “And once I did it I was like, ‘oh my God’ that was so scary, but also awesome and I’m really proud of myself for actually doing it.”

Rosenblatt believes that though it is out of the norm for a male-bodied person to wear makeup, they are not necessarily trying to make a statement.

“It could be just like, ‘oh I just want to be pretty today’ or like ‘make myself up’ without the intention of wanting to make a statement,” Rosenblatt said.

For Oliver Slayton, makeup does not only raise confidence. It can be empowering.

“I find that I feel good when I wear makeup. I feel well dressed,” Oliver Slayton said.

For Zander Slayton, putting on makeup can also be a comfort.

“It’s just something I enjoy doing, It’s kind of like a stress relief. Sometimes when I’m really stressed or bored, I’ll go into my bathroom and do some extravagant thing. No one’s going to see, and then I’ll just take it off, and I just find it soothing,” Zander Slayton said.

Oliver Slayton does not wear makeup simply to hide imperfections. They instead use it to emphasize certain features.

“I think [my dad] had a thing where he thought I might not have loved myself, but that’s not why I do makeup. It’s because I like to enhance certain things on different days, and I like to change what you see on a daily basis,” Oliver Slayton said.

For Oliver Slayton, makeup is something they can change on a whim based on how they are feeling.

“I feel like everyone has a face, but we didn’t get to mold it ourselves,” Oliver Slayton said. “It’s kind of like a tattoo, but I get to change my tattoo everyday.”