If you haven’t been paying attention to make up ads- and let’s face it, very few of us do- you may not have noticed the latest development in the cosmetic industry this past week.
Covergirl, the decades old company, announced their very first Cover-boy last week, becoming the industry’s renegade for social justice. The caked-on face of progress is 17-year old James Charles, a teen who has garnered hundreds of thousands of followers on his social media accounts where he shows off his beautifying looks and techniques. Charles and Covergirl aren’t the only ones breaking down time-tested traditional constructs, either. Even their competitor, Maybelline is getting in on the social justice, sparring with their own “It boy”, Manny Gutierrez.
Why is this relevant, you may ask? Haven’t men been dressing in drag for decades? How is the commercial spotlight any different than one on a club stage?
Both undermine masculinity, yes, but what companies like Covergirl are now trying to push and peddle is that masculinity is a construct, a transient idea that was here yesterday and gone today. What companies that dress men in women’s skirts and powder their face with blush are declaring is that men are inherently no different than women and should wipe off that masculinity that was supposedly forced on them as children.
In fact, this is exactly what colleges like Gettysburg College are teaching young freshmen today. In a lecture, students who identify as male are taught a lesson on “toxic masculinity” and shown a documentary titled ’The Mask You Live In’ about the consequences of telling boys to grow up and be, well, men. One student said of the workshop:
“The entire movie and lesson made it seem like masculinity was an unacceptable human trait. That it’s something males should avoid. It was completely pointless. It did nothing to help anyone. I got absolutely nothing out of the experience, other than a headache…”
In the trailer of the documentary, phrases like “be a man” and “man up” are linked to increased pressures on boys and even violence. The viewer is simultaneously shown images of young men and headlines from shootings like Sandy hook while psychologists correlate the shame from not living up to these standards to such acts.
Now, I’m not saying that our society has done a perfect job of portraying masculinity. Far from it. But this is a load of bologna. To suggest that men are no different than women and that the solution to the violence and anger is to feminize them is vile to all men out there. Contemporary attitudes aside- men are men and telling them to be something other than themselves is not only damaging, but hypocritical. What’s also disturbing in the film is when a speaker characterizes qualities like empathy as strictly feminine. When did “empathy” and “caring” becoming a solely feminine characteristic? I wasn’t aware of this shift.
Ultimately, It’s time we manned up and realized that masculinity will never be pretty. Masculinity goes to battle; It wins wars. Masculinity fights for the rights of the weak and innocent. It’s raw and it’s never covered up by liquid foundation or mascara. We are taught that Masculinity results in violence, but not always taught that some violence is necessary- as in the defense of the innocent or of liberties. To deny men their masculinity is to deny everyone something great. It won’t be pretty, but then again, why would you want it to be?1 comment