By Alison Agosti
It may seem so trivial, but fashion has progressed and evolved along with time and challenged societies’ gender roles. Hard as it is to believe, a mere fifty years ago, the idea of women wearing trousers was considered taboo. Today, women are allowed to move from feminine to androgynous without a second thought. Men, on the other hand, have remained fairly stagnant in their mainstream image. Guys aren’t casually wearing skirts, or putting their hair in sassy updos, or applying copious amounts of makeup.
Cringe-worthy terms such as “guyliner” may be relatively new, but the look has been around since the days of Iggy Pop, Lou Reed and David Bowie. Today, it’s the makeup accessory of choice for media-manufactured performers like Adam Lambert, 16 year-old suburban goth kids and, of course, pirates. Sorry to all the bankers, lawyers and middle managers out there. The world just isn’t quite ready for your glam rock look.
Despite the occasional, vaguely ominous article professing that men’s eyeliner will be the hot new trend, it’s never going to happen. The look is too severe and distracting to be worn regularly by a guy with any sense of humility and a real job. I know I’m being harsh, even a little sexist and hypocritical, but there is something about the whole practice that frustrates me, personally. I don’t think that fashion is always going to push social boundaries or carry deeper meaning. Sometimes fashion is just ridiculous and goofy for no other reason. Maybe men’s eyeliner will eventually be in the same category as feathered bangs or polyester suits.
Before writing this article I looked up various tips and techniques for applying eyeliner for both men and women. The general consensus seems to be that women use eyeliner to draw attention to the eye, while men use eyeliner to draw attention to the fact that they’re wearing eyeliner. Men’s technique seems to be to draw a big thick line and then smear it all over the place. There is this shock value, “look at me” aspect to this trend. It explains the popularity of the look with performers and teenage boys.
Personally, I don’t use eyeliner. I’ve never been any good at applying it, since I lack both patience and a steady hand. While I’ve never had the pleasure of going out with a guy done up like a human raccoon, I can’t help but wonder if my lack of eyeliner would be as much of a deal breaker for my date as the presence of his. I imagine we would start by talking about the band he’s undoubtedly in, or how no one understands him. It probably wouldn’t be all bad. Heck, maybe he’d even give me a couple beauty tips.