Culture January 6, 2017
The face of makeup is changing and beauty boys like Manny Gutierrez, a new Maybelline ambassador, are taking over. But hang on a moment, makeup is a woman’s game.
Only three months after CoverGirl announced its first male model, men are now creeping into one of the few industries dominated by women. Just as women have begun using makeup as a tool of empowerment, men are suddenly directing the attention towards themselves.
This is not a positive push towards diversity. Here’s why.
Placing men as the face of a traditionally female industry is a move largely motivated by money – winning the business of a younger generation, particularly Generation Z. Younger people today are more open to fluid definitions of gender and sexuality, and big name brands are acknowledging that to increase their market share.
Gen Z alone makes up a fourth of North America’s population, is the most ethnically diverse generation and influences $600 billion in family spending, according to a report commissioned by marketing agency Ketchum. And because of this growing diversity, younger generations are far more accepting of gender fluidity.
So when CoverGirl, a 58-year old brand, named James Charles the company’s first-ever male model in Oct. 2016, it made headlines across the nation while giving the company a boost.
And as Fortune points out, CoverGirl’s decision to crown James Charles as the first male face came at an opportune time for the brand and its decreasing market share. Though it is currently the third-largest color cosmetics brand in the United States, its share in the market fell to 7.8 percent last year.
So, getting Gen Z more involved with the brand could help bolster the company’s profits. In fact, CoverGirl has already shown its awareness of these trends by launching a new mascara, called So Lashy, which is described as a universal mascara “for anyone.” Essentially, the brand is saying: The product isn’t made for just women.
Not only that, but Charles alone is well established on social media, with an Instagram following upwards of 580,000. That paired with the appealing message of diversity is already proving to be worth it for the beauty brand.
“Social engagement is off the charts,” Laura Brinker, vice president of influencer marketing at Coty, a beauty manufacturer, told Fortune. Since launching via social media, CoverGirl has enjoyed much positive feedback. But, it’s just a marketing ploy to get people talking about the brand.
Because of the traditional definitions of the word “beautiful,” wearing makeup has been a woman’s problem for years. It’s also a problem men can’t fully understand because most of the time, they’re the ones imposing the pressure to wear makeup.
For many women, going out on a date, getting ready for work or simply running errands sometimes requires hours in front of a mirror. In a Daily Mail survey of 3,000 women, it found that going to work without makeup causes them more stress than public speaking or sitting through a job interview.
“Many women feel that there is a stigma associated with not wearing makeup and that their employers may discriminate against them if they don’t turn up to work dolled up,” psychologist Celia Bibby explains. And as outrageous as it sounds, The New York Times reports that makeup does have the power to increase the amount of respect, trust and affection women receive at work.
In a study conducted by Nancy Etcoff from Boston University, she found that more people feel that women are capable, reliable and amiable when they wear makeup. “We conflate looks and a willingness to take care of yourself with a willingness to take care of people,” Daniel Hamermesh, economics professor at the University of Texas, told The New York Times.
Not only that, but wearing makeup has been a difficult balancing act for women, one that men haven’t had to deal with. When a woman has skin problems, she often gets criticized as not wearing “enough makeup.” But when she rocks a bold lip color and dark shadows, she’s criticized for wearing “too much.”
When Google Facts tweeted, “Studies show that men like women who wear less makeup,” the women of the Internet were quick to respond with anger. Because, as Martha Mills points out on The Guardian, “even in this day and age [women are] constantly having to defend [their] bodies against the opinion of men.”
So to advertise something like #MakeupIsGenderless, a movement popularized on social media, isn’t fair for the women who acutely feel the pressures associated with their gender’s relationship to makeup. For years, a woman’s choice to wear makeup has been both a weapon and a weakness and it’s been a choice that men still influence.
Men can’t understand that problem if they’re part of the reason it’s happening.
Because of the historical pressures that come with wearing makeup, women have now used their choice to wear or forgo makeup as a symbol of empowerment. So, advertising men wearing makeup to boost profits trivializes a movement begun by women.
For Alicia Keys, her relationship with makeup had been a negative one, so she chose to stop wearing it to reclaim control of her image. In the Lenny Letter announcing her decision to go makeup free, she said that every time she left the house, she “would be worried if [she] didn’t put on makeup.” She’d ask herself, “What if someone wanted a picture? What if they posted it?”
Without makeup, she no longer had to worry about these questions. “I swear it is the strongest, most empowered, most free and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt,” Keys wrote.
READ MORE: Alicia Keys’ 5 Surprising Beauty Hacks
For other women, however, makeup increases their confidence. Makeup is practical for evening skin tone, accentuating the angles in one’s face and enhancing someone’s eyes. And the regular application of makeup can also help a person’s self-esteem.
As Tracy Rohrbaugh, vice president of Revlon marketing told PR Newswire, “Rituals can be powerful – performing them can actually change the way you feel.” A study released by Revlon and Fordham reflects this statement by showing that the routine act of putting makeup on can “increase a woman’s emotional state.”
Because of this, more and more women are trying to promote movements that encourage others to wear makeup for themselves. Whether it is to express their creativity or to increase their self-confidence, movements like the #PowerofMakeup spread messages about the positive aspects of makeup.
There is a burden, responsibility and pain that comes with carrying the label of “woman.” The reason women still praise Alicia Keys for living makeup free is because they understand how terrifying and uncomfortable being barefaced can be.
Therefore, changing the face of makeup to increase market share undermines a movement that women have personalized. Unless men can endure the same experience and pressure women have for years, they have no place in the beauty industry. So stay out.
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