“Why don’t you wear a bra and bangles also?”
“You need to come out of the closet.”
“Start behaving like a man, try playing football.”
These are just some of the (more decent) comments that India’s male influencers are bombarded with on a daily basis. Why, you ask? Because they use make-up. And this truly exposes the ugly side of Indian mentality that there’s no escape from.
In a patriarchal society like India, where masculinity has become increasingly toxic in the past decade, gender divisions are more apparent than ever before. Rather than making gender roles more fluid as we move forward, we seem to be degenerating into a society that clearly demarcates the ‘masculine’ from the ‘feminine’. And makeup has been classified as ‘feminine’.
Content creator Ankush Bahuguna was among the first to post makeup tutorials on his Instagram page. One day, he decided to casually record himself applying makeup as he got ready for a shoot – much like a behind-the-scenes video – and posted it. To his surprise, he got a sharply divided response. On one hand, men opened up about wanting to wear makeup but not being able to due to gender stereotypes. On the other hand, we got viciously abused and even got rape threats. However, he continues to post makeup tutorials that focus only on positivity.
Influencer Siddharth Batra started posting #GuyBeauty videos in February 2020 and saw pretty much the same effect. But in the mix of trolling and appreciation, came a more deadly ingredient. His girlfriend, influencer Komal Pandey, was also frequently attacked along with him. Nameless, faceless people on the internet advised her to leave him, or worse, to come to them to experience “the pleasures of a real man”. What’s disturbing is how easy it is to attack the woman, alongside the man.
Shakti Singh Yadav was apprehensive before posting his makeup videos on TikTok. But soon they went viral and that gave him the confidence to keep creating and posting more videos. But comments like “leave something for the women” or “get a sex change operation” are a part of his daily routine. He initially found these messages exceedingly disturbing but has now learnt to deal with the hate. He prefers to focus on the comments that tell him society is changing because of his work.
These artists prefer to see makeup as art, as a form of creative expression. Infact, that’s how makeup first evolved. As far back as 1300 BC, the Egyptian pharaohs had elaborate makeup and skincare routines.
However, the toxic masculinity gripping Indian ideology sees this as problematic. Social conditioning has become such. The burden of patriarchal society is being carried as much by men as by women. While women are prohibited from doing what they like, dressing how they like and so on, men are also being made to curb themselves. ‘Manliness’ has become a weight on the shoulders of modern men.
And this exposes a truly ugly side of India’s mentality.
Disclaimer: All views and opinions expressed in The Brew View – our opinion section – are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TheBrew.ae, the company, or any of its members.