Free From the Leashes of Labels and Gender Conformities

Published by Sneha Manoharan on

“Make-up is gender-neutral. I repeat, make-up is gender-neutral” 
The social construct around masculinity and society’s habit of imposing gender stereotypes is not just limited to women. Men go through the tedious regime of having to behave and exist in a certain way that society deems appropriate. Let’s just say that a man wearing make-up is not subjected to a lot of acceptance. People today wear make-up not just as an accessory but also as a token of self-love and confidence. But then again, if a man chooses to do the same, he is judged and subjected to all sorts of personal questions about their gender and sexuality. 

Gender norms exist in every community and while in the west there are a lot more people having conversations about it, it is still somewhat of a taboo in India. But here we have,  Shantanu Dhope , a  make-up artist and an influencer who is here to tell you that, yes Brown Boys wear make-up too. He is not ashamed to flaunt his talent in front of the world and along the way wishes to get rid of the gender labels that restrict a person’s way of living. He believes that with people being vocal about gender issues and stereotypes, now is the right time to finally have a conversation about normalizing individual choices. In one of his posts on Instagram, he wrote “Choose your words. With so much hate and bigotry around us lets make sure this month and the rest of the year we show kindness, love and respect to the people around us no matter their sexual orientation, gender and race.”
He uses make-up as an expression of his art to create and recreate personalized looks for his audience. He is breaking the heteronormative bounds by rocking that bold and striking eye make-up. Be it his Indian culture-inspired looks with a magnificent maang tikka and elegant earrings or his character inspired looks, his art speaks for itself. He has tested the boundaries with his art and does not limit himself by creating safe masculine looks. In most of his posts, he is seen wearing statement pieces of jewellery and nude lips that put all the attention on his splendid eye make-up.    
Men and fashion have a very conditional relationship, where men are supposed to wear and look good while abiding only to set criteria. Shantanu has found a way to normalize wearing make-up and has bashed the false construct of gender roles. These gender roles are often drilled into the minds of the society where it is conditioned as the norm. Anyone going against it is bullied and called names. Shantanu himself faces a lot of questions and assumptions about his life, which he believes bring about a  conversation that is much needed for his audience.  
He and a few other influencers havebeen working hard to bring about a change and get rid of the stigma around a man wearing make-up. With every new look created, he is giving rise to a shift in the mindsets of those who view appearance and beauty from their confines of gender norms. It’s about time we normalize make-up for all genders and call it a preference rather than spewing judgements on those who wear it. After all, we live in the 21st century. Let’s start acting like it too.