Society has been shifting drastically towards a more welcoming attitude in recent years. Even though there are still some concerns about the progressive momentum in contemporary day, respecting self-expression stands out as the new generation’s societal norm.
We have discussed many ways to express ourselves, from how we dress to how we perform art. However, humanity has another blank canvas to decorate as means of expressing oneself that hides in plain sight: the body. Tattoos exist for this very purpose, but what happens if we want something more temporary to match our mood?
As the years go by, usually, gendered industries become more inclusive, and we see a decrease in gender issues in the creative industry debate, and hopefully the pace of this transformation will speed up from here onwards. The fashion industry most definitely has already begun the gender-neutral perception shift.
There are still some sectors that are more hesitant to accept genderlessness. Until recent years, the beauty industry was one of those because it has been perceived as a female territory globally. The word beautiful referred to females, self-care was considered a feminine practice, and so on and so forth.
However, these days, inclusivity permeates the beauty industry. Traditional beauty products, such as makeup and nail polish, aren’t exclusively for female use anymore; they are for everyone who wants to use them.
What is the symbolic meaning of this new era? Let’s find out.
Self-Care Is A Way Of Self-Expression
Many may have heard a common phrase before: beards are men’s makeup. But why can’t makeup be men’s makeup?
We, as humans, have a very unique ability to impact our surroundings and ourselves. How we present ourselves to the outside world is highly affected by how we think and feel. Unfortunately, in this immense creative freedom, there have been many obstacles for many.
The change may cause some concerns from the society, as preserving the status quo seems far safer. Historically, there have been some attempts to break the societal gender roles concerning appearance. Grace Jones, for example, was one of the pioneers on this matter. Even though those efforts were significant, society wasn’t ready to alter their perception yet back then.
Nevertheless, we’re living in a post-modernist world now, where people are ready to accept the value and importance of self-expression. Do you know what is highly fascinating about expressing oneself freely? By being ourselves, we live true to our spirit because we don’t have to put labels on expression.
However, what do these all have to do with beauty products?
Genderless Beauty Products Challenge Traditional Social Norms
As we mentioned before, traditional values reject the fluidity and shift within societal norms, including gender roles. This perspective won’t accept that people don’t think in black and white but in all sorts of colours. Moreover, this approach would not understand that self-expression can have many faces, from words to appearance.
In the mid-1990s, self-care was still a female-dominated domain perceived as a non-men zone. This was almost like an unspoken rule that dominated the collective consciousness back then. However, the post-industrial shift influenced society and raised a debate about the limits of beauty product usage, and the makeup industry started to be perceived fairly differently.
I was around that time that a term has emerged to define males who practiced self-care and used beauty products: Metrosexual. The word didn’t have a history within the collective memory and quickly died. It only appeared to separate the men who enjoyed self-care from the idealized version of man. It was a sign that showed us back then, society wasn’t ready to break the perception of males.
Just like a fashion style, self-care beauty products can make a statement. By observing this fact, one can say that appearance-oriented beauty product use, like makeup and nail polish, is a silent protest to the rigidness of society. It is a way to criticize the system and rebel against oppression.
Seriously though, when did people decide to assign a gender role to an action as simple as putting a face mask on?
Nowadays, inclusivity in the makeup industry and gender-neutral beauty trends are on the rise, from grooming products to genderfluid appearance. In this world of self-expression, consumer preferences also reflect the fact that the demand for gender-inclusive brands is growing.
Some say this is a way to challenge societal norms, some say it is an art form, and others say it is an extension of self-expression. We say it can be all and none, as beauty products are only products, and humans attribute a meaning to them.