In headline-grabbing news the other day cosmetic giant Maybelline announced that they had hired YouTuber and Instagrammer Manny Gutierrez as the first male face of their cosmetics – or more specifically one of their mascaras. To the 15-year-old daughter of one of my friends this was a real watershed moment. After all, why shouldn’t men wear make-up and promote make-up? “This is 2017!” she exclaimed, wide-eyed with radicalism. Even Glamour magazine was impressed, describing it online as a “huge deal” and a great way to start the New Year (I can think of better but maybe they don’t get out that much). Honestly, anyone would have thought a man wearing make up for a cosmetics campaign was a ground-breaking, original idea.
To people of my generation, however, a man promoting slap is no big deal at all. I myself am old enough to remember 17 cosmetics’ eye-catching ad campaign back in the mid Eighties, which featured men adorned in lip gloss, eyeshadow and blusher with the slogan “Looks Even Better On a Girl” (see above). It was meant to be wry and cheeky, of course, but actually, the difference between then and now is that it wasn’t just a few business-savvy YouTubers who were wearing make-up: back in 1985 lots of men were – from the New Romantics who populated the pop charts to, well, ordinary teens like me (being a fan of subtlety I preferred a brown eyeshadow and a black eyeliner). So Manny Gutierrez isn’t the first man to wear make-up – he isn’t even the first to advertise it – and he certainly won’t be the last. What is amazing in 2017 is that a man putting on a bit of mascara is still ‘news’ at all.