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Why wearing makeup is my way of putting a finger up to gender roles

Why wearing makeup is my way of putting a finger up to gender roles

Darren Mew is unashamedly 'Femme Forever' | Photo: Facebook

Over the past four years, I have found a love for cosmetics.

My love affair initially started with me wanting to cover the dark circles under my eyes with concealer. But from there – my interest has just exploded.

As a millennial, I spend a lot of my time watching YouTube videos.

During my undergrad at Manchester University I never really watched traditional TV – (other than Doctor Who and Eurovision).

So by my second year of my undergrad – I had fallen far into the YouTube rabbit hole.

While spending so much time watching makeup tutorials and reviews, I got inspired to start wearing makeup myself.

The beauty industry is booming around the world

People are growing their love for makeup and skincare all the time. In the UK alone sales are reaching over £4 billion, according to Raconteur.

But, while this boom is happening – there is no questioning that makeup remain highly gendered items.

The majority of makeup is marketed at a female audience. But that doesn’t mean females are the only ones who use or it wants to use it.

The markets are being slow to reflect this, but there are signs they are moving in the right direction.

Over the past few years many well-known makeup brands like L’Oréal, Maybelline, and Makeup Revolutions have even started using male models in their advertisements.

Thank you, YouTube

With the rise of social media sites like YouTube and Instagram, people can now self-represent themselves and make money from it.

There is a multitude of male beauty bloggers and vloggers out there. Some of my favorites include the likes of MannyMUA, Jeffree Star, James Charles, Patrick Simondac and Jake-Jamie.

Each uses makeup in their own way whether that’s androgynously, artistically or through self-expression.

I remember when I initially wanted to start wearing makeup and would talk about it to my flatmates at uni. They were really encouraging, one even said ‘I think more guys should wear makeup.’

My other flatmate, bless her soul, would even come makeup shopping with me and go to the till with my card and by it.

That was back when I was still new and shy about makeup.

Now I will strut my genderqueer ass down the makeup aisle in Superdrug picking up all the makeup I need.

What shocked me most, and maybe it’s because I now live in London, no one really bats an eyelid that what they see as a man is wearing makeup.

The only times I have had odd looks is when I go outside with lipstick or eyeshadow on. That’s when I get whispers on the tube or stares of disgusted confusion.

That doesn’t put me off. In fact, what these people are doing is quite the opposite. It just encourages me to go for an even bolder lip or smoke my eyeshadow out even more.

Darren Mew at Drag Con 2017 | Photo: Facebook
Darren Mew at Drag Con 2017 | Photo: Facebook

While at Uni I learned so much about expressing my gender

Throughout my three years at Manchester Met my ideas of gender, the LGBT community and queerness really changed. Now I am someone who is really outspoken when it comes to LGBT rights and queerness.

I identify as gender-queer and I used makeup as one of the main ways to express this. Through makeup, I can make myself look more feminine, change my appearance and subvert traditional gender norms.

As Sasha Velour said accepting the season 9 Drag Race crown: “Let’s change shit up. Let’s get inspired by all this beauty, all this beauty, and change the motherfucking world.”

It’s a quote that stuck with me. Watching how drag queens use makeup to change their identities is something I find really interesting and super creative.

Much like we wear clothes to express our style, I use makeup in the same way. I can change my appearance to suit my mood and how I want to look that day.

Yes, don’t get me wrong, its lovely to be able to tidy my brows up, hide that spot and even out my skin tone but that doesn’t mean I’m ashamed of them. In fact, I am really comfortable with my body and my appearance.

Makeup is more than just a way to express my gender identity

To me, makeup is an art form. Just like an artist will paint on a canvas, I paint on my face.

There is so much you can do with makeup and a face which I find so fascinating. The options out there are endless and there are no rules.

For many queer people, makeup is a way to express this part of themselves – from drag queen, club kids, to gender fluid and androgynous people.

Makeup is a tool of expression. It lets people become someone else and be creative. That’s why I love it and will keep trying new things and pushing boundaries with it.

Living beyond traditional gender binaries has lead me to a place of freedom and wearing makeup has helped me achieve this.

Now I feel more and more that being an active member of the non-binary binary community is a really important part of my life.

I’m currently working as National Student Pride’s press officer. Already I feel like I have a great platform to be a non-binary activist.

This year I’m really excited for their completely non-cis #BeyondTheBinary panel at their 2018 Saturday event.

And yes – I’ll be there in my best make up sending out messages to the rest of the media about why they should be thinking beyond the binary too.

Follow Darren on social media: @WhatDarrenSaid

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