A Confusing Idea of Beauty

Maybe she's born with it - or maybe it's just Maybelline. Is there any woman alive who has never purchased Maybelline cosmetics?

Maybelline and Cover Girl were the first brands of makeup I ever purchased. The rows of cosmetics in their beautiful packaging hung from a pegboard in Grand Value, the five and dime store in my childhood town where you could buy anything from new dishes to makeup and greeting cards. I'd walk down to the store on Friday nights or Saturdays and buy a new lipstick, or the ubiquitous Maybelline Great Lash mascara in the green and pink tube.

Now, however, Cover Girl is promoting a young man as the 'face' of beauty and Maybelline has hired a male 'spokesmodel' for their brand of cosmetics.

Are they trying to reach the men who want to wear makeup? Are they broadening their customer base in a smart marketing move to increase profits? Or are they promoting a hidden agenda?

First, we get this young man, Charles James, chosen as the new spokesperson for Cover Girl:

Then, we get this young man as the "face" of Maybelline, 2017:

Yesterday on a Facebook exchange with a Catholic blogger about the trend of these new dolled-up males selling females makeup, one of the blogger's Facebook connections took me to task as bigoted because I said I did not like this trend. What an astonishing leap of logic!

Let me get this straight: in this brave new world of ours, we cannot have an opinion that goes against the grain of populist, progressive thought? Apparently so. This is not the first time that I have been publicly attacked for voicing an opinion contrary to the modern trend of celebrating every perversion, every diversion as liberating, good, and progressive.

Males wearing makeup, lace and ruffles are nothing new. We know from portraits and historical documents that fashions come and go. Trends for both men and women to wear powdered wigs, lead-based face paint, silk stockings and many different types of makeup and garments have always been affected by time and place.

I recognize too that men in the arts such as actors, on-camera newscasters, and others do wear makeup. And of course, men have been stylists, hairdressers, and makeup artists as well. Max Factor was a famous male Hollywood makeup artist.

The aesthetic presented in these images, however, is confusing at best and revolting at worst. What, exactly, are both Cover Girl and Maybelline promoting here? Their makeup lines are sold TO women and purchased BY women. Typically, the Cover Girl aesthetic promoted healthy, glowing beauty; think Cheryl Tiegs, her blond locks blowing in the wind as she waves from the deck of a sailboat. Maybelline often went for a more glamorous look, hiring models like Gigi Hadad and Christy Turlington to represent their brand.

These young men are neither beautiful nor glamorous. What they are is shocking. James Charles has a nose ring. This is not elegant. This is Ferdinand the Bull. Manny Gutierez has five o'clock shadow. I'm sorry, but colorful eye makeup and five o'clock shadow do not belong together on one face. His style looks like a bad MTV video from the 80s, not the face of beauty for a new generation.

How have we moved, as a society, from promoting unrealistic, idealized expectations of female beauty (think Marilyn Monroe and Twiggy) to MEN as an idealization of female beauty?

Men are not what women aspire to look like. Men in drag are not what women would like to look like. Women want to look beautiful. Beautiful may take many, many different forms. But women do not wish to look at men made up to look like women when they are considering their next cosmetic purchases.

Cover Girl and Maybelline have both made grave marketing mistakes. I have been considering switching my makeup brands to cruelty-free (non animal tested) brands and MLM brands my friend are selling to show my support for their home-based work. Now I know for sure that I will buy neither Cover Girl nor Maybelline again while these "spokesmodels" are part of their advertising campaigns. These companies have lost a loyal customer of over 30 years with their marketing decisions.

I wish both Mr. Gutierez and Mr. James good luck and no ill will, but I do not want to look at them as the idealization of 2017 beauty for women.  They are, in our society, free to dress as they wish. They are free to wear makeup and feminine styles and to make YouTube videos of makeup tips and whatnot.

I am also free to withdraw my support for companies that think this is the new ideal of beauty for women.

I want this instead:

Does the new "look" of men being touted as 'beautiful' delight you or upset you? Leave a comment below. I reserve the right to moderate, delete, or refuse uncharitable or unkind comments.

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