Does the vain man really have a place in the society without being called ‘gay, faggot, or a sissy?’ Apparently no. There I was standing in front of my class pitching a business idea on a ‘man heaven’ : a place where men can look good and feel good. But there I was – standing in front of a class full of men giving me strange , weird looks.
‘So where will your business be based?’, asked my professor.
‘In Asia, where men are much more open minded about makeup and looking good’, I replied.
And there it goes again, my professor giving me a weird look, taken back by my answer.
I don’t blame them. Asia has a reputation for being traditional and closed, and Asian men have a reputation for being chauvinistic with their Western counterparts being so much more open minded and modern. But why when it comes to cosmetics, there is this reversed phycology ?
Many do not know that top skincare consumers in the world are Korean men. Just Korean men alone have spent $495.5 million on skincare/makeup products last year. That’s a 21% of the global market sales for men;s skin care despite it’s relatively small population. Not only in Korea. Last year, skincare sales to men rose 17 percent to $2.4 billion, and 83 percent of that growth was in Asia.
So where did this ‘no taboo’ and uncomplicated attitude that Asian men adopt regarding skincare and makeup ? We are no longer in the ancient days, where men were the sole breadwinner of the family, and women stayed home to tend to the families. In a flat world, men and women are almost equal – there is a fierce competition for jobs, advancement and romance in a society where ‘Appearance is Power’, and ‘Flawless Skin is a marker of social success’.
What about in the other side of the world where the society is dubbed to be much more advanced? You have articles like ‘Men Wearing Makeup A Disturbing Trend’ , and sales of men’s skincare growing at snail pace, and men makeup being such a taboo topic. In Korea, you can easily find beauty shops ( for e.g Sephora ) that caters only to men, but in Europe you will not even find a single one!
There used to be a shared belief In the Western hemisphere that real men only get mud-caked faces the old-fashioned way. But let’s go back to history and revisit this. During the Ancient Egyptian days, Egyptian man wore makeup as much as the females. Lipsticks, eye shadow, mascaras – you name it, the men wore it! In the 18th century in France, men like women used powder, makeup, colors.
The currently mentality that French men have against men makeup stemmed from the French Revolution. They passed from a revolution between ‘aristocrats-commoners’ to ‘men-women’. The society turned to a more utilitarian way of life with less distinction between the classes, and excessive makeup went out of fashion especially with men. Men were now equal – they had to be serious and masculine which was their role in society.
So coming back to this question – does the vain man who cares about the way he looks have a place in the current society without being labeled as gay ? I don’t really have an answer but this is what I will say : if a film of foundation or BB Cream can make you question your masculinity or define you as a man – maybe you should question your own masculinity and insecurities because a man who is confident with his masculinity or sexuality is sure of himself, and not a film of foundation will change the way he looks at himself.
P.S Sorry for the lack of updates lately! Been really busy with classes but there will be more reviews coming next week as well as the new site coming real soon!