Despite the fact that heterosexual men have worn makeup since 3000 B.C., the journey to normalize beauty and grooming in the 21st century has not been easy.
As with many things our society has deemed solely feminine, like wearing high heels or caring about personal grooming, men thousands of years ago actually took part. Even in the past fifty years, there have been men who embrace makeup, from actors like Johnny Depp to drag queens like RuPaul.
Makeup was documented in ancient Egypt. We see examples of this on many artifacts from the time, with both men and women wearing copious amounts of makeup, with particular attention paid to expressive eyeliner.
According to history, people in ancient Egypt, a civilization that’s known to have started around 3,000 B.C., thought wearing makeup gave them protection from the gods Horus and Ra.
Kohl eyeliner, which they made from grinding minerals like malachite and galena, served as much of a practical purpose as a spiritual one — some believed it warded of flies, infection and the harsh rays of the sun. Turns out, they weren’t exactly wrong about that, with research proving that their eyeliner mixture actually had the ability to prevent eye infections.
One of the men who was most famously a fan of this exaggerated eyeliner look was King Tutankhamen, who was regularly depicted wearing the black or green eyeliner, especially before large dinners and gatherings as a sign of power.
And if you consider nail polish to be makeup like we do, then men have actually been wearing it since 3,200 B.C., with men wearing nail polish to signify class in Babylonia during this time.
Men in China and and Egypt also continued this practice as well, using colors to signify a kind of social hierarchy. Beyond Egypt, men in ancient Rome were also known to dabble in makeup, often using powder and rouge and nail polish to add a bit of flair.
Talking about how men wearing makeup started going downhill, it is said that Queen Victoria, who ruled during the late 19th century, who deemed wearing excessive makeup as impolite, associating it with and shaming sex workers. So men (as well as women) backed off a bit longer until the makeup industry modernized, and by “modernized,” it means removed all the lead in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Masculinity is a different definition for everyone, yet it is traditionally associated with men needing to be strong and aggressive, which excludes the act of pampering. With time, instead of men trying to fit this stereotype, they are beginning to advance past it and realize makeup has no boundaries.Society is taking small steps in the right direction to make this industry gender-neutral.
Societal norms of manhood accept anything “rugged,” “natural,” and “tough” while rejecting anything remotely “feminine,” which is considered emasculating for men and damaging to masculinity as a whole. Plus, what is wrong with having feminine features? Men with feminine features can totally rock their features ; makeup, grooming habits for men & having feminine features should be normalized.