War Paint For Men Unnecessarily Genders Makeup
I’ve always been fascinated by the art of makeup. When I was really young, my brother and I would binge watch Michelle Phan’s videos, memorizing every step of her routines, but since we didn’t have any makeup of our own, we would convince our mom or our cousins to follow the tutorials on our behalfs. We would stare in awe at how these women could change their faces with makeup; it was something that we felt we could never really understand; it was as if they were transforming themselves into someone else, or perhaps exploring a new side to them. It was magic to me.
Since those days, I’ve been amazed at how the industry not only expanded into being more accepting of different skin colors and lifestyles, but also into being more inclusive of gender. Whether we like it or not, the makeup industry and the huge influx of male beauty influencers has really put so much effort into showing that makeup can and should be for everybody.
I bought my first ever bottle of foundation in my first year in University, and I remember finishing it off within a semester, I was so in love with the way makeup made me feel, how it gave me a sense of creative control over things that I thought were unchangeable. I’ll admit that even I was hesitant to the idea of applying makeup as part of me still saw it as a feminine craft, but now that I’ve been wearing it for over a year, I see it as a means of self-care and something that is definitely not gender restrictive.
I stumbled across an ad the other day for this brand called War Paint for Men, whose matte-black packaging appealed to me, but upon further probing, I was disheartened or perhaps confused at what I saw. Essentially, War Paint specializes in makeup for men, which I suppose in theory isn’t too shocking, but what haunted me was how hyper-masculine their marketing images were.
In some ways, I’m glad that there is a cosmetics brand out there that is really tailoring themselves to marketing makeup for men: I love the matte black packaging, and I love that their products are a really solid introduction to makeup: foundation, powder, concealer and applicators. Their products are vegan and contain ingredients that really nourish your skin (which for someone with sensitive skin, I really appreciate), but I can’t shake the idea that this brand is off somewhere.
While the brand seems to be expanding the accessibility of makeup, I fear that it may be perpetuating a masculine ideal that almost contradicts its message. In particular, I was deeply affected by War Paint’s advertisement, which featured a tattooed man in the shower (I’d say Axe commercial circa 2002 bod) applying concealer and foundation before donning his huge skull ring and cutting to logo. For one: why would you ever apply makeup in the shower? and secondly, why is this ad so insistent in maintaining this awkward standard of machismo?
Even its name “War Paint for Men” rubs me the wrong way: this push towards militaristic, aggressive masculinity seems unnecessary and odd. It’s like their message isn’t that “makeup is for everyone” but rather “this particular brand of makeup is for only the manliest men”, which might have been alright in the days of Axe and the Jersey Shore, but now seems dated, insensitive and frankly, kind of silly.
I’m hoping the brand notices its error and leans in more towards accessibility, and inclusivity rather than aggressive manliness. Makeup is amazing, it opens up a whole different side of one’s creativity and I like the idea that there is a brand that is trying to open up that side in men specifically, I just don’t like that the brand feels the need to sell toxic masculinity, but make it makeup.
Featured image via
Update: the brand took down their advertisement, oddly enough not because of angry comments, but rather because the marketing team got into copyright music trouble.