The Makeup of a Man


 Jarad Dewing wears makeup sometimes. He doesn’t feel any less manly, so why is it such a big deal to others?

I was at Sephora the other day – which is to say, my fiancée dragged me there – and I got bored with the oohing and aahing over various extravagantly priced cosmetics, so I decided to peruse the samples. That fingernail polish looks like my old Goth days, I thought. It took me barely two minutes to do my left hand in a charcoal blue speckled with glitter, and I left it that way, because I’ve always liked asymmetry.

The cashier noticed. “That’s better than I do my own nails,” she said. My lady beamed, so proud of her progressive man. I wonder if she’s noticed how quickly her liquid foundation’s decreasing, or when her mostly empty compact of coverup went mysteriously missing.

If you’re reading this, honey, I hid it in my purse and hoped nobody at the restaurant would notice their bad-ass bearded chef applying “Maybelline 220 Sandy Beige” to his temples to cover blemishes.

Remember when metrosexual was all the rage? David Beckham, that gorgeous specimen of humanity, was the poster boy for moisturizing, hair products, manicures and the neo-Adonis look of the early 2000s. Perfect hair, perfect skin, rockstar tattoos, gorgeous wife, pricy car, career athlete of the highest caliber. And then the insults came out, the comments on emasculation of society, the backlash of those stuck in gender binary systems, declaring that makeup was decidedly “unmanly.” Grow beards, fight bears, fix a vehicle, eat four pounds of bacon a day, earn your muscle through work and fuck the gym, fuck your skincare and RAWRRRR.

I’m a big fan of bacon, but I know that increasing my dietary intake of grease combined with my love of bourbon leads to pimples. Nasty blackheads covering my prominent Roman nose. Sweat soaking into the bandannas or hats I’m forced to wear in a sweltering kitchen choke my forehead into pushing out red pustules. That old razor sitting on the edge of the bathtub occasionally cuts into my neck. I’ve got some flaws.

Walking out into daylight, the public eye, as intermittent as it may be, isn’t something I do lightly. I look how I feel, and I feel how I look. There are days my hair looks thinner than I’d like it to, so it’s a hat day. Sometimes I don’t care to shave that hair on my neck that creeps further and further down toward my chest every year, because I’m lazy and dirty today, and y’all can just accept it or not. Those dark semicircles under my eyes are there because I work hard, or maybe because I stayed up too late listening to old Counting Crows albums and drinking warm whiskey. There are days I’d rather you not see those. There are days I’d rather walk out into the world with confidence and a different mood than I went to sleep with.

I’m glad “metrosexual” isn’t part of our cultural lexicon nowadays. I’d like to think we outgrew it. I’d like to think we realized it was derogatory, a bastardization of “heterosexual” with a clever urbancentric prefix, and that it meant that men who paid attention to their appearance were somehow something other than a John Bunyan idol in the current zeitgeist. I’d like to think that we could understand that cosmetics, historically, aren’t gender specific and are based on making ourselves feel important. I’d like to think we could all recognize that sexuality is a spectrum, and while wearing makeup may be perceived as falling more toward the violet side, it certainly doesn’t mean my blood isn’t red.

I also know that our first impact with any visually oriented human being is skin-deep. And I know that confidence is attractive, regardless of gender. I’m fairly certain we shouldn’t make judgment calls about someone’s sexuality or gender identity based on what they put on their face, nor should we consider that in the overall context of judging someone’s worth, or value, or even whether they’d make a good friend. Don’t like soccer or jazz? Cool, we don’t need to hang out or be besties. Think it’s okay to use the word “fag”? I’m not gonna hang out with you because you’re a shallow prick. See the difference? Evaluating someone based on preferences or common likes is fine, it’s part of the social contract we all live in. Evaluating someone based on a bit of Maybelline showing above his beardline, or hell, even some eyeliner on a night out to compliment the tattered jeans and beat-up Chucks — that’s a different story.

If we’re not to judge a book by its cover, why would we judge a man by his coverup?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to rummage through my purse for some chapstick.

Photo: Flickr/CharlotteBodak

About Jarad Dewing

Jarad Dewing is a chef, essayist, hedonist, and the Editor of Eat Drink & Be Manly, The Good Men Project's section devoted to all things edible, imbibable, and incredibly digestible. Jarad can be reached at


  1. wellokaythen says:

    I have bad skin on my face that’s highly sensitive to shaving. Once in while, to keep from grossing other people out, I apply some powder to make the scabs or zits less pronounced. You’re welcome, everyone.

  2. I have been wondering where all my kohl pencils disappear to !

Speak Your Mind