By Fatihah Irdina
The combination of men and makeup has not been strange in history, especially since makeup is commonly used in the film industry. When acting, male actors wear makeup to cover their blemishes and give the character they are portraying an identity. But the world is getting more modernised each day. Today, we have shifting views on gender norms, particularly on men’s cosmetics because makeup is not only used to cover blemishes but on the other hand, it is also used as a form of expression.
A recent social media debate involving men and makeup has caused an uproar among Malaysians because Malaysia is after all a muslim-majority country with the percentage of Bumiputera at 62.5%, Chinese 20.6%, Indian 6.2%, other 0.9%, non-citizens 9.8% (2019 estimates). Although makeup and religion are two separate entities, in Malaysia those two are considered somehow interrelated with one another because it is ingrained in certain individuals’ minds that the makeup one chooses to wear demonstrates the inner state of a person.
Makeup is worn on different occasions, each with a different purpose. So this puts a stance where men stand in healthcare and beauty where in certain circumstances, religion has a say in it.
We do not have to go far to see the gravity of the situation, take the recent online debacle for example. In an online debate, some argued that makeup can only be worn by women. Associating or imposing feminine traits on men is considered strange but little do some realise that adopting a skincare routine is the foundation in building good hygiene for ourselves?
We also know that makeup and having a skincare routine are two completely different practices. In this case how do we differentiate between which is appropriate and which is not?
In the online debate, again it was argued that it is inappropriate for men to wear makeup because it is deemed too girly. Banning makeup entirely would lead to another issue perhaps to cries on the lack of freedom of expression, so how could we opt for a better understanding of men and makeup?
Firstly, we should know that the makeup realm is a huge place, there is such a thing called ‘corrective cosmetic’ that caters to both men and women. Corrective cosmetics is the practice of using makeup to correct or enhance the natural appearance of the face.
The correction made is not like using correction liquid or correction tape where it completely wipes out your flaws, but more to covering up anything that you’d prefer to have more seamlessly blend in with the rest of your skin. This includes dark circles under the eyes, pimples, scars, hyperpigmentation (also called dark spots), and of course, the redness of the skin.
It is easier to say that men do have a place in healthcare and beauty if we were willing to learn more about it. Ideally, we would all want to live in a world where we feel welcomed, and one of the easy ways to approach it is simply by feeling beautiful and confident. We do not have to choose the Haraam path to approach beauty when scientific skincare exists to better human skin more so than damage it. Eventually, it is an individual choice to use their conscience to differentiate between the good and the bad in using cosmetics. ***