Men Just Want To Have Fun
by Marjorie Dorfman

So get out of the new world if you don’t understand, the times they are a’ changing.  
. . . Bob Dylan

Is make-up for men a new concept that is here to stay? Have powdered wigs succumbed to the subtleties of concealer and mascara or are we all in the same unisexual boat? Read on for some clarity and a few laughs as well.

It’s not that Cyndi Lauper was wrong when she sang to us back in the 1980s about girls just wanting to have fun, it’s just that she was inconclusive. It wasn’t her fault because at the time her song was written the concept of metrosexuality had not yet burst upon the pop cultural scene. What’s that, you say? Well, the word was invented by Mark Simpson back in 1994 and describes two distinct meanings. One is a "dandyish narcissist in love with not only himself, but also his urban lifestyle." The second definition is a straight man that is in touch with his feminine side. No longer an emerging trend, metrosexuality is fast becoming a true life style. When these two worlds (or in this case, definitions) collide, we have a movement which has been responsible for the fast growing male cosmetics market. It looks as if Boy George (By George) was on the right track.

It used to be that men were more concerned with maintenance rather than application or augmentation. (Ever hear of pec implants?) Most women (myself included) have a beauty regimen that has always included about thirty different steps. These include: cleansing, toning, foundation, lash curling, lipstick, mascara and hair styling, just to name a few. Men have only two or three steps at most: shower, shave and perhaps a bit of hair styling. It wasn’t always this way. Egyptian males wore makeup and in centuries past men also wore powdered wigs. (The French called them perruques, the English periwigs. The craze of wearing them reached its peak in the 17th century and the court of Versailles at one time boasted forty wig makers in residence.)

The tide has turned (as the world and the stomach) and it’s high time that we all did away with the outdated notion that men who care about their appearance are effeminate. It’s only fair that men have the option to become as obsessed with their looks as their female counterparts. The essential question seems to be one of degree. How far will they go? (Beyond Boy George, I cannot imagine.) Does it stop with toner or move relentlessly into lipstick and mascara? It looks as if the answer is just as far as Jean Paul Gautlier’s makeup line "Tout Beau Tout Propre" (All Beautiful, All Clean) will take them. According to a Gautlier press release, the powder bronzer, concealer, kohl liner for eyes and lip balm in three shades, natural, fair and tawny, are all part of a "bold, virile line of revolutionary tools designed to enhance masculinity and offer each and every man the right to be naturally handsome."

Well, why not? We do live in a democracy, don’t we? I once knew a woman who told me that it took her an average of two hours every day to apply her make-up in such a manner so that it would look "natural." If women can do it, why not men? It is an interesting marketing aside that the packaging for these products is quite understated and yet the advertising couldn’t be more blatant. The bronzer and blush are disguised in a shiny black cube that resembles some Rubek mistake one might see on an executive’s desk amid memo pads and rolodexes. The nail fortifier resembles a squat black marker and the concealer/kohl pen is a dead ringer for a Pilot Razor Point. The face used to advertise Tout Beau makes no attempt to hide his ultimate purpose. He is a pouting metrosexual in a black fedora and white linen shirt whose left eye is rimmed boldly in kohl.

Good marketing will determine whether or not men will buy it. According to Gautlier, a man’s beauty line is merely a step forward. The design for the packaging was inspired by a traditional bar of soap and is very different from a female make-up range because it is for men. He says; "this line is for anyone who feels comfortable with his body and wants to enhance its beauty." He also claims that 90% of the sales of his make-up in France have been to straight men. Since Tout Beau was introduced in the United States last November, sales have been brisk. Macys alone sold $13,000 worth of men’s make-up in the week after its debut. Marie Alix Le Roy, consultant of Marketing Intelligence, said that "the men’s beauty market, although representing only 5 to 10% of general beauty products, is the fastest developing sector, with a 20% annual growth rate. There is an enormous reservoir there," she said, "but it will be a long process."

The times, my friends, are a’ changing and it looks as if makeup is for people, not necessarily female people. The difference seems to be that the male makeup is meant strictly for grooming purposes while for females it is more often part of a fashion statement. Although this is probably true, one still must erase all prejudices when approaching the issue. The Tout Beau line is created to enhance male beauty. No more chapped lips, guys, thanks to three nourishing and protective sticks. Two soft-colored sticks, one for light, the other for dark skin, enhance the natural color of the lips. The Sharp Eyes pencil, looking secretly like a fountain pen, turns out to be a "two in one" weapon for seduction. It camouflages dark circles under the eyes and behavior that resembles betrayal and espionage, while on the other side a soft blueblack kohl is the perfect eyeliner.

Okay, I’m a progressive soul and I say to all of you guys out there brave enough to try this, go for it! I ask only that you leave my make-up alone. I might lend you some eyeliner, but stay away from my stockings and underwear. I know you just want to have fun. Still it’s just not sanitary, forget about fitting.

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Copyright 2004