Why are we still so offended by the idea of a man wearing make-up?

Emmanuel Macron’s beauty spend was recently revealed [Photo: PA]
Emmanuel Macron’s beauty spend was recently revealed [Photo: PA]

If you think you went a little overboard on new lip shades this month, spare a thought for French President Emmanuel Macron, who apparently spent €26,000 (£24,000) on make-up during his first three months as in office.

According to Politico, Macron’s personal make-up artist charged €10,000 (£9200) and €16,000 (£15,000) for doing his make-up ahead of press conferences and during his travels.

Take into consideration that the average Brit could pay more than two years of rent with £24,000, and it’s a great deal of money to put towards foundation and brow filler.

What Macron wears for television interviews won’t exactly be what we pick up from the Benefit counter on a Saturday afternoon, but his predecessors’ lower (though still huge) spends on their own beauty back up the obvious that £8,000 isn’t necessary.

But what’s interesting about the publicity surrounding it is that besides focusing on Macron’s four-figures-a-month budget, people are having a lot more fun with the idea that Macron wears make-up at all.

Criticising a leader’s financial moves is one thing, but it’s hard to imagine that Macron’s penchant for a neatly-presented face would flood our Facebook feeds in quite the same way if he were a woman (though if so, we can imagine it’d have a generous dollop of misogyny added).

No – what’s hilarious to people is the idea of a fully-grown man doing a ‘woman thing’, particularly a ‘woman thing’ we can’t even handle women doing.

Society has a conflicted relationship with make-up; it wants everyone (women) looking flawless, yet hates the idea of anyone actually applying make-up onto their faces.

Women are vilified for not wearing make up to work, for example, then vilified for trying to apply it on their morning commutes.

And what’s worse than a woman applying the amount of liquid eyeliner we expect her to? A man doing it; cue pictures all over the internet presenting Macron as a pantomime dame.

But while some are busy calling him a “girl” and similarly insightful insults, the male make-up industry is growing.

ASOS started selling make up for men last month, and L’Oreal hired its first male spokesmodel back in February, its managing director predicting that male beauty counters will be here in a matter of years.

It’s not just men in the public eye choosing to wear it and receiving criticism for doing so, either, proven by the “discrimination” that one Currys PC World employee faced after wearing make up on the job.

Men have extremely strict parameters in which they can express themselves though beauty and fashion before they’re attacked for doing so.

Hair care isn’t safe either, apparently – though arguably more acceptable – as in reaction to the backlash against Macron, others have been quick to point out that his predecessor François Hollande apparently spent more money on his barber.

Concealer, lipstick or blusher, however? Unthinkable.

Sure, bringing men into the beauty market could mean roping them into the same damaging beauty standards that women already face.

But if we have an issue with men wearing make-up, let that be it, not a fear of men taking ownership of their appearance.

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