The necessity companies feel to make everyday items hypermasculine or hyperfeminine in an attempt to appeal to a specific gender has caused frustration for years—and likely will be for years to come. Sometimes, the debate surrounding these products digs deeper, placing the blame on a toxic society rather than the products themselves.
Photographer Jonathan Ivan sparked a new round of conversation about toxic masculinity and capitalism after coming across War Paint, a makeup line including concealer aimed specifically at men.
“Masculinity is so fragile they have to call an eye concealer War Paint,” Ivan wrote.
Makeup branded for men is, in fact, the maker’s ethos. In the “about” section of its website, War Paint says it aims to “break the stigma that makeup is solely for women” and make “men feel comfortable to shout about wearing makeup.”
The advertising appears to use War Paint for Men as a stand-in for the term “makeup,” seemingly avoiding the connotation of femininity that is often associated with the latter. Deep-rooted toxicity expects men to avoid anything perceived as feminine in order to retain their own masculinity.
If that sounds silly, it’s because it is—but it’s also how much of Western society functions, and creating a makeup line explicitly for men (including tutorials for how to use the makeup) makes sense with that in mind.
But the underlying outdated ideas of what’s “masculine” and acceptable for men are ultimately the subject of Ivan’s call out, and some folks readily chimed in with their own observations.
“Straight men are afraid to accept that they have a little femininity in them and even then not all things are feminine,” wrote @rvizjr.
However, at least one Twitter user pointed out that most makeup lines are aimed entirely at women, and that perhaps the change needs to start there.
“Think of it as this, if I think skirts are feminine but they made skirts specifically for me then I’m one step closer into not caring about the gender anymore,” one user wrote.
And this conversation really knocked the whole issue out of the park. “Not all masculinity is toxic. Toxic masculinity is though,” one user summated.
In short, it seems like War Paint is trying to break down stereotypes and help men feel comfortable wearing makeup. But society is so bound by gender constructs that War Paint chose to repackage makeup as something that looks more masculine to persuade men to buy it, proving there’s still a long way to go.
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