Men in Tights

23 Jun

Photo: MaCaEs

I’ve always found it odd that men aren’t “supposed” to wear makeup. It has never seemed fair to me that women can “fix up” their faces, but men are expected go to au naturel. Why don’t they get to enjoy the magic of things like concealer? Somehow, society has made makeup a woman’s toy. But a recent study from marketing firm JWT shows that the female-centric view of makeup may be due for a checkup.

A colleague sent me an AdWeek article about the study last week, but I’m sure the results have been all over the internet. The study focuses on Millennial men specifically, and asks them about their opinions on whether men should be able to use a range of products that are traditionally marketed to women. According to the data, 18% of men surveyed said they think foundation is “acceptable” for men, 12% are down with eyeliner, and 14% are cool with nail polish. Now, “acceptable” is different from “I’ll buy it.” And unfortunately the data in AdWeek doesn’t include comparisons to past research, so I don’t know how different these numbers are from what’s been seen in the past. But assuming this is truly news, and that these numbers are higher than typical male responses, we may see more male-centric products in the beauty aisle in the coming years. My personal hunch is that a lot of men are held back from the industry by the perception that they’re not supposed to use it and that they’ll be perceived as feminine if they’re seen putting on makeup.  As acceptance grows, it’s likely that “acceptance” will transform into purchasing.

JWT also asked these guys about clothes- and their responses are fun to look through. 11% said it’s acceptable for men to use figure-shaping products like Spanx. Again, the democratic side of my brain wants all men to feel the Spanx love- why shouldn’t they get to hide their beer bellies if women can hide their muffin tops? And since 40% of men say they worry about having a beer belly, there’s clearly a market to cater to! When it comes to actual clothing, 14% say they’d be ok with men wearing leggings, and 12% are ok with men wearing women’s jeans. It might be odd to think of a future in which men wear leggings- but hey, why not? Maybe they’ll even end up wearing tights!

Some of the irony of all this, of course, is that cultures like the Egyptians endorsed makeup for both men and women. In fact, in ancient Egypt, makeup was perceived as magical, and everyone wanted to wear it. I won’t get into the history of how all this changed, but it’s interesting to see the shift in perceptions among Millennial men. It probably has something to do with changing gender roles, increasing pressure on body image, and fun things like that.

One more fun thought, while we’re at it. In the modern world, what subgroup of the male population is already known for nail polish, eyeliner and skinny jeans? Yup, the emo community. Maybe all those emo guys in high school had it right, after all?



2 Responses to “Men in Tights”

  1. felicia June 24, 2013 at 7:06 PM #

    i think this is great!


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