I Am a Man and I Wear Makeup

Brushes dusting off the powder, I look into the mirror and see the light reflecting back from the highlighter I just applied on the highest points of my face, the foundation has covered up my redness from acne scars, the contour has defined my cheekbones with its dark shadow.  To me, the whole process is rather delightful and even sacred.

Before I stand up and leave the room, I glance over myself one last time and knowing I am well dressed, flawless, but most Importantly, confident. Yet the way that people sometimes look at me as if I am some sort of animal in the zoo makes me feel even more self-conscious.

Am I not ALLOWED to wear makeup just because I am a guy?

For centuries, women have dressed themselves up for a formal occasion.  Pretty dresses and gowns with feathers and gems displaying the wealth of one’s family. Putting powder on their faces paired with rosy cheeks and red lips. Doing makeup to them is not just about being pretty and drawing attentions from their male counterparts, it was also a courtesy. The tradition has lasted and even converted into a more modern way of expressing one’s beauty from the outside.

I can remember when I was little, I would sit on the bed while my mom was getting ready, she would use a black mascara wand that brushed through her lashes, I didn’t know what she was doing, I only knew she looked a little different afterward.

As I grew up, I also started to have acne, and I wanted the same kind of transformation.

That’s when I met makeup for the first time.  Could you imagine having acne for years?  I  almost forgot what I looked like without the redness around my face.  And one day, after applying some simple cream on my face, that “Me” that I used to remember emerged again from the mirror. That was the moment I knew makeup is going to be a big part of my life. It brought back the confidence I had long lost.

But The Problem Also Started From That Moment

Even my teacher had pointed out the fact that my face was way too pale and way too powdery, and she then asked me:” You are a boy, why are you wearing makeup?” with a strange look on her face, I failed to reply with my courage.

It made me wonder, am I not allowed to wear makeup?

All the time I have been raised where grown-ups tell you that no matter who you are, we should be treated equally. For all this time, I thought I could act outside of the box, and that’s all right. I eventually learned the hard way that equality is still a work in progress.

To my little young mind, this thing was too difficult to understand, all I knew was that people made fun of me because I had acne, but when I tried to cover it up, people called me “a girl”.

Despite what people say about “being who YOU want to be”, I am not allowed to put makeup on, to play with Barbie dolls, or to be who I really want.  Instead, I should be playing basketball, and be the “boy” that people expect me to be.But now I see things differently.


Now I realize that you should never let people decide who you want to be.

It took me years to realize this. I finally had the courage to admit that all the things that people find strange about me are the things that I am most proud of, and make me who I am right now.

So if I like wearing makeup and it makes me feel good, then I can do it – no problem. If it doesn’t harm anyone, my talent shouldn’t be limited by other’s expectations.

And neither should yours.

People might judge how you look, or they might judge your actions, but I learned to not let people’s comments influence my determinations. And most importantly, I learned to embrace myself for who I am, makeup and all.

So if you are still scared of what others might think of you, limit yourselves from your own fears. Take it from a boy who used to be bullied and mocked, eventually, you will find your own place, and those judgments will be nothing to you.

Boy In MakeUp Image by Rose Morelli 

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