The pressure of conforming to gender rules still exists in our society, and the expectation of a rigid dress code for men and women still has an impact on how we interpret social norms.
But more and more men are choosing to break out of gender stereotypes, by wearing clothes that traditionally were for women only – and openly wearing make-up.
Aiden Ravensdean, 30, is a self-proclaimed ‘drag queen’ who is also referred to as Candy when he transforms into a woman. ‘I am obsessed with makeup, and I enjoy painting my face for hours,’ he said. ‘Creating a character is relaxing and amazing.’
Wearing makeup as a man does not help him to express his sexuality, he said. Instead, creating a cosmetic masterpiece is a work of art. ‘Drag is not a sexual thing for me, not a fetish, it is art and it is theater.’
His desire to transform himself into a woman – on occasion – shouldn’t be seen as unnatural, or interpreted as him wanting to be transgender or gay. It’s just something he enjoys doing, he said.
Men shouldn’t wait for social approval before they do what makes them happy, he added. The media has some part to play by including more gay people in TV adverts, and other media platforms. ‘Just check out the profiles on the dating apps, they just make you feel like an outsider,’ he bemoans. ‘Obviously, we cannot generalize people and put them in a box.’
As Britain is a civilized country, London in the last city you would expect to find intolerance towards men wearing makeup. But unfortunately, some people are very close-minded, Ravensdean said.
‘In London, we are supposed to be able to be who we are even if it is to leave the house as a man with makeup. I look up to people that are doing it, however, I am not comfortable with myself as there are still many people who feel intimidated and uncomfortable seeing a guy in makeup or dressed up in gowns.’
Adeyemi William was born in Nigeria and currently lives in Camden. He said it’s a big challenge for him to wear make-up in public, especially in London’s African communities, without having to watch over his shoulder. He looks forwards to a time when the whole world is genderless.
“I just avoid areas like that really (black communities), there is nothing you can tell them to change their minds towards men wearing makeup, dressing up in dresses and just being themselves,’ he said.
Recently, a 17-year-old boy, YouTuber James Charles was on the front cover of CoverGirl magazine. The magazine sparked a backlash from feminists, one of whom wrote on Twitter: ‘when will the world stop rewarding white gays for being so mediocre?’ GQ Magazine wrote back: “Male or Female, watching someone contour their nose into a statuesque masterpiece on YouTube is just plain fun, even if you never plan on doing it yourself.”
Earlier today, a school in Auckland, New Zealand announces it was abolishing gendered school uniforms for its students, aged 10 to 13. Both male and female students will now have the choce of wearing skirts, kilts or trousers. The school administration said that the old uniforms reinforced gender stereotypes.