Perfection takes time. I’m busy.
By Dan Siron for Eve NI Magazine.
It has been a fine day. The long hazy hours of balmy summer Saturdays are upon us and I have reconvened, after a fleeting relationship with a damp flannel, in the Dog And Flip-Flip hostelry. Life would be hard pushed to be any better, save for the curtain call of Isla Fisher, Florence (sans her machine) and Kirsten Dunst (in the Spiderman era); all feeling a little bit saucy due to the libido loosening beams that the sun has been pumping out all afternoon. I am a modern day D’Artagnan, gracefully dodging the well humoured, sarcastic blades of my Musketeers, who find much mirth in my fascination with redheaded damsels. Porthos rises to trouble the barkeep for another round of our usual tipple, just as Aramis disappears into the little musketeers room to free himself of the worthless sections of 6 pints of Guinness. This is troublesome as I also feel the strain of restaining all afternoon and we know two men cannot go to the loo together.
Time ticks by and Aramis has not returned and I am forced to convince Athos that “double teaming” to the loo is unavoidable. Grappling my way through happily inebriated and flirtatious maidens, I crash gracefully through the doors and proceed to answer the call of nature. Aramis has completed whatever tasks had forestalled his return and is admiring his visage in the large and strangely stained mirror that assists many an ale weary Lothario to woo a tipsy mistress. As I join him to adjust my doublet, he leans forward and asks, “D’Artagnan, my boy, hand me your Manscara. Lady Christine of Aguilera has caught my eye and I am in need a little touch up”
Stop. What happened here? We are Musketeers! Not the local wenches! We are ruthless assassins with poise and grace, while embodying all that is masculine. We do not require rouge to give our countenance a little lift. We are rough and ready! Take us as you find us. Proudly presenting our flaws as badges of honour. We do not use make up! Gentlemen do not use make up! No matter how gentle we are.
Now I am not exactly a “new metrosexual man”, but neither am I a Cro-Magnon throwback either. However a recent Superdrug poll has shown that men are spending just pennies less than women on making themselves more presentable to the viewing public and not turning up to restaurants in Rigger boots and with grout in their hair from a hard days graft . Even I can vaguely remember nabbing a little of my sisters concealer to hide a pustule that ensured my centre of gravity was out of kilter for weeks. I am not proud that I camouflaged this beast, but with the Youth Club disco a matter of hours away and knowing that a certain Miss Whitehead (an unfortunate name given the subject matter) would be in attendance, needs most definitely must. I understand that TV presenters and actors must avoid the dreaded shiny face. What I cannot fathom, is how men can bare to cover themselves in the suffocating and slippery stuff for no discernible good reason.
My fear of makeup has no accurate cause or date. It just kind of happened. You know that feeling when something turns your stomach and makes you gag, and even the merest suggestion of it has you getting that watery mouth feeling you remember from a long car journey as a child. If you cannot envisage the feeling I mean, spend 5 minutes thinking about your own parents making sweet, sweet love on the living room floor while the dog licks them. There we go…we all know that feeling now. The only thing I can put this feeling down to is having worked in pubs and bars where clearing the glasses at the end of the night not only meant that you were the only miserable person in the room, but also involved having to use “the slappers lipstick cloth” liberally before throwing the pint pots into the dishwasher. Yes I do mean lipstick on pint pots. I never said I worked in classy bars. Add to this, the “posh” women smoking Consulate menthol cigarettes and leaving the manufactured white fag ends with pink rings that made them look like fishing floats that were being sold off cheaply after a little fire damage, and we may be onto something without paying thousands for my therapy.
And then there were the girls at school, and my elder brothers post pubescent squeezes, who sported “The Mask”. For those lucky enough to have not been subjected to “The Mask”, it is a strangely obvious orange face that stops exactly on her jawline. And your cheek. And on anything you wear. In fact, if you see a man in a pub who looks as though his white shirt has a suggestion of brick dust smeared on it, have a quick look at his missus and check her face isn’t running down her neck.
Despite my personal aversion to foundation and lipgloss, I do appreciate the time that ladies take to beautify themselves. And in the majority of cases, the results are outstanding, despite spending an hour poking pencils and brushes into parts of her face I can honestly say I have never looked at. And I don’t think women have particularly big faces that need weeks of planned exploration. Well, except Minnie Driver and Sophie Ellis Bexter, that is.
I may still have a preference for a “natural” look rather than even the most carefully and subtly applied war paint, but the dedication required to endure this daily ritual is something I can never comprehend. But then again I struggled when I went on my first “lads” holiday and one of the guys brought hair straighteners. But I witnessed a mans creative cosmetic capability while at university, and chose to ignore it. The Goths. Here were a group that exactly fit the bill for time rich, image conscious young men with a skill to create stunning canvases from their faces.
So, the question seems to be not “why are men wearing make up?”, but “why aren’t all men wearing it?” That question is simple, and has three answers that explain the non mascara wearing fellahs.
Firstly, men that don’t wear make up are lazy and don’t care about how they look. This would seem to fit right in alongside other traits I have exhibited; such as convincing my previous boss that I didn’t iron my shirts because “I cannot afford an iron”. I also have not bushed my hair with an actual brush since 1993.
Secondly there are the those men that prefer to spend any free time (and by this I mean awake) doing the responsible family thing and ensuring his clan are as comfortable as possible, not following this advice I found online about trying concealer and foundation at the local Revlon counter:
“…try it at the base of your face to see how it compares to your skin tone.”
Our family man would be afraid of such advice as he has spent the majority of his life thinking the base of his face already had a name. His chin. He fears change.
Thirdly, there are the men who prefer to spend all of their non accounted for time with hobbies and gadgets. I include sport under the hobbies umbrella and DIY under a duel hobby/gadget label. Men would never be at a loss to explain how tinkering with a lawnmower, or something that you plug in, is an essential use of all of their free time. As long as that something is not used on hair. If it is remotely mechanical, it takes priority over anything and everything else.
The fact of the matter is this. Women have spent many years learning how to emphasize their already stunning natural beauty. Men have been getting away with mediocre looks with explanatory, sexist and homophobic cliches about who wears cosmetics for years. Maybe it is about time we started to put as much effort into our appearance as we expect from our partners. If they can take the time to put their best face forward, then shouldn’t we at least knock off the rough edges? And I will be doing so from hereon in. Well I would if I had the time. I am far too busy learning to type this article on my new iPad while slouching in a crumpled shirt and watching the footy.
There is one other compelling reason why some men will not wear make up. Every single female I asked while researching this, answered one question in exactly the same way. Even the ones who worked on the make up counters that I bravely asked for man make up advice. That question was; “Would you prefer to go out with a bloke who wears make up?” Without fail, the answer was no.
Enough said really.
Thanks to Laura Wheat for helping to inform me on this whole mystery. Find her here.