Gender benders of beauty bias

City-based influencers talk about the risks involved in generating content that break stereotypes around men and make-up

Published: 24th April 2021 06:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th April 2021 06:32 AM   |  A+A-

Prateek Monga

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: When English former footballer David Beckham featured on the cover of a popular style magazine in 2019, what got everyone’s attention was his aqua green eyeshadow. “I knew David could make it work, even though it wasn’t something he’d done before,” make-up artist Miranda Joyce, who worked on the shoot, is reported to have said. A year later, in an interview with another popular style magazine, Beckham revealed that he loves to wear his wife Victoria’s make-up line.

For centuries, make-up has been a ‘girl’s only’ industry. But with gender expressions taking new forms, the taboo of men and make-up seems to be losing its weight. Closer home, driving this point is Prateek Monga (aka Sunny), whose Instagram account has make-up tutorials for men. Sunny is one of the many male influencers in the city, who are shifting conversations to include men in makeup. Even as he attempted to shed the inhibition and talk about it, Sunny was aware of the risk and possible ridicule that might be thrown his way.

“For shoots, I used to do my make-up and everyone used to ask me about it. But I never put it out on my social media because there is so much stigma around it,” he says. It was in September last year when he decided to put up a reel of a make-up tutorial and luckily for him, there has been no looking back. “Though my first make-up video went viral with more than 18 million views, the comments were mixed. There is a risk of you being trolled or you turned into a meme,” says the techie.

Siddharth Gothwal

Though more men are willing to take that chance now, creating content to break these age-old stereotypes is not easy. Sometimes, Sunny finds it difficult to collaborate with men and gets women on board instead, which defeats the purpose of his effort, he says. Another city-based influencer, Naved Qureshi talks about a time when there were hardly any grooming products for men.

“I grew up in a time when the adjective ‘beautiful’ could not be used for men. And when the grooming products for men were introduced, it was mostly endorsed by big actors like Shah Rukh Khan for gaining popularity,” says Qureshi. He rues the fact that people still associate make-up and skincare regime as female habits. “Skin is skin, irrespective of the gender. The moment you accept the fact about skincare, the comments are directed at your sexuality,” he points out.

But with voices and videos of influencers like Sunny and Qureshi, there’s a shift in the dialogue of men’s mental health too. Model Siddharth Gothwal, says, “Whatever you like to do is good for your mental health;if make-up is keeping you at peace, then why not. Men also love grooming and it is about time people to accept it.” In a world that’s already fighting politics of different kinds, we hope beauty finds its place in people’s acceptance of gender fluidity.


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