Makeup Makes the Man


This post flips us all forward out of school-girl play and into my current faux-play fun.


In early January I decided to do a test makeup and costume run with one of my concepts Night Night Trashy (working title). She is a drag version of a stereotypical Aussie bogan mum who watches too much Mad Men and has decided to try the whole “Vintage look” in the bedroom. Her ideal image is something between January Jones in her Grace Kellyesque Mad Men role and Katy Perry in the proactive solution ads. Unfortunately for her she comes out looking something like a particularly terrible Dolly Parton Impersonator.


I had an interesting experience when I was putting on the makeup for Trashy. On the concepts page you can see the order of my makeup application:


Cover eyebrows, foundation, new eyebrows, eye makeup, blush, lip liner and lip stick and so on ….


When I applied the lip liner and lip stick something changed and I’m not quite sure why. In that lip colouring moment I looked at myself in the mirror and felt like there was now a man looking back at me. The feeling was almost out of body; a dissociating sensation where in a split second perceptions of the self are pulled away and a new self appears like a mask on top. How intriguing to be a biological woman applying makeup, suddenly reaching a point where the makeup can make you feel more male than female.  


I have to wonder why that might happen. Perhaps it’s because of the cultural images I’ve been surrounded by in my life. Growing up in Australia during the “Priscilla” years might have something to do with it, especially if as a child I associated heavy makeup (particularly dark lip liner with lighter coloured filler) with men in drag perhaps more than I did with women. In fact during the lip colouring moment I did immediately think of Hugo Weaving as Tick for my reference point, as did the person taking photos for me. I said to the one taking the photos, “I look like a man now”, they replied laughing, “Oh yeah, you look like Hugo Weaving in drag”.


I think it’s very interesting that products designed for women’s beauty can also be a signifier of man’s women’s beauty if that makes sense… If we take makeup a little further our appearance might begin represent something new.


This is an idea that I’m going to keep coming back to over the next few years and really trying to tease out. Today’s post is just the first introduction of an idea and I hope that it has sparked some debate within and amongst you… Please click on over to the forum and start up a discussion.


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