Striking or subtle, a man in make-up can make an impact.

Males of many species routinely engage in something called “peacocking,” which means they exaggerate their appearance to win female affection.  Evolutionarily, this allows females to find the most impressive match to provide genetic material for her offspring.  This phenomenon, though very common among male animals, is deemed strange for human males.  Why is it considered weird for men to wear makeup?

True, some men do wear makeup, but we seem to be lacking in shining examples.  Marilyn Manson does it, but most people think he’s creepy.  Michael Jackson did it, and everyone knows he was creepy.  Many of the other men who wear makeup are openly gay or bisexual, like Boy George, Adam Lambert, and David Bowie.  So it seems that the men who are comfortable with the idea of subverting typical social rules are typically already subverting those roles in other ways.

As the film and music industries become more and more focused on surface appearance, though, it follows that men wearing makeup will become more socially acceptable.  Yet trying to look as perfect as possible in order to attract a mate or maintain one’s fame seems, to me, to be missing the point.  The best part of wearing makeup is that it’s fun—it’s fun to apply, fun to coordinate different colours, fun to change one’s appearance.  It’s sad that most men miss out on that because of restrictive social structures.

So, men, if you’re feeling festive, put on some eyeliner or use a little blush.  Not only will you be fulfilling an animal-kingdom tradition, but you can have fun in the process.

Sarah Pinkerton

Image Credit – http://www.flickr.com/photos/torimbc/4531988946/sizes/m/in/photostream