Tuesday, 30 September 2008


My Dearest Darlings, the death of a screen icon of yesteryear is always poignant, this week Paul Newman escaped the mortal coil. This magnificent actor and philanthropist was famed for his beautiful blue eyes, in his youth he embodied the ‘pretty-boy’ ideal, and laid the foundations for the subsequent aesthetic of young male beauty. His legacy lives on in the current landscape of gorgeous young men that are emblazoned on your various screens. Throughout the last few decades ‘pretty-boy’ stars like, James Dean, Rob Lowe, Brad Pitt and Ashton Kutcher have beguiled and charmed their audiences, these boyish beauties embody a modern aesthetic that contrasts strongly with the more rugged and manly John Wayne/Russell Crowe guise that so easily personifies the traditional view of masculinity.

As ever these contemporary Hollywood Icons present an ideal that you however deluded attempt to resemble, in the fifties a young man simply needed to purchase a biker’s jacket to mimic Marlon Brando. A contemporary male has to try a little harder, with computer enhancement and crystal clear HD your modern icons focus is less on the wardrobe and more on the face! Consequently concerned young men surreptitiously raid the make-up bags of their mothers or girlfriends, subtly enhancing their often meagre looks with ‘secretly’ applied mascara, foundation and concealer.

It could be argued that this pursuit of male beauty has reached a climax as large cosmetic companies are noticing this potentially lucrative gap in the market and are in the process of targeting the male make-up consumer. These clever cosmetic companies are cunningly attempting to dupe the simple male into believing that they too can imitate the marvels of male magnificence that are now so ubiquitous by purchasing specially formulated male cosmetics. The market’s recognition of this supposed demand attempts to normalise and promote masculine beauty products.

Terms such as ‘guy-liner’ and ‘man-scara’ appear to have entered the mainstream and are indicative of a zeitgeist that corporations are clamouring to exploit. Less feminine terms in the description of their products suggest a particular masculinity, ‘revived’, ‘groomed’, ‘invigorated’ and ‘age-defence’ steer away from the ‘radiance’, ‘silkiness’ or ‘shimmer’ of previous aspirational feminine beauty products. Product and packaging design also attempt to de-feminise the whole notion of cosmetic enhancement with dark and masculine palettes on strong and solid forms.

Though outside the world of entertainment, male make-up is still an area rife with ridicule, whether the unctuous David Cameron has used a make-up artist at this week’s Conservative conference is for him to know, though I can guarantee he will not be emotionally thanking and congratulating his assistant on stage, as any man attempting to appear ‘mainstream’ is still not ‘allowed’ to appear in any way feminine.

The disguise of an apparently ‘female’ product sadly reflects the underlying misogyny and homophobia of your culture. A gentleman who grooms beyond the norm is labeled effeminate or homosexual! Today for a man to seem like a woman is the worst of insults. Despite the undeniable strength and wonder of womankind your society still feels repulsed by a male who embodies female qualities. Worse still is the insult of appearing in the least bit ‘gay’. In my opinion any male should be flattered to be considered homosexual as it suggests that they offer an alternative to the current contemptible pinnacle of heterosexual masculinity!

However your hypocrisy should not be gender specific. Women are judged on their looks everyday, often with profound consequence. Men’s visual violations are often far more abhorrent and this is despite the desperately narrow margin of error allowed; a cleanly shaved face is the height of most men’s grooming. There is absolutely no doubt that vast swathes of your male population would benefit greatly from cosmetic enhancement. Though the average slovenly man is, I’m sure only too pleased to be omitted from the same social scrutiny that is lavishly placed on woman-kind.

Some of you may believe that rather than encourage men to beautify, it would be better to discourage women from becoming slaves to their regime of glamour. Though In my vast experience it is better to attempt to improve ones appearance as it has the ability to communicate your desire to advance beyond the inadequacies of humanity. I hasten to add that I do not promote fashion fascism as I am blatantly aware of your obvious limitations. To make the best of ones self as I have written before is one of life’s few remaining joys, the quest for betterment the route to enhanced self esteem.

Love as Always the Stunning Ms Coco LaVerne x