“I stood looking at the makeup pouch. It had all the items that were in mine but a different brand. I freaked out inside. It was just the two of us in the honeymoon suite and my makeup bag was in my hands. This second one was open amidst Jigar’s clothes. My inner self nurtured doubts of Jigar’s gender inclination, but I defeated the thoughts, as we have been having regular sex. I was nervous and anxious.
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That evening as we got ready for dinner, he looked different. He looked exactly as he looked for the wedding days. His lips were pink in colour and eyes looked defined by eyeliner. I didn’t ask him anything, as my inside was shattered. But I realised for the first time my husband wears makeup. ”
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(As told to Jaseena Backer)
Her husband likes to wear makeup and she finds it unacceptable
“When we returned from dinner I noticed that there was some cotton with foundation lying on the washroom tabletop. The waste bin had a foundation sachet and a face pack sachet. I had no trouble guessing that Jigar would have used these. I knew for the wedding he had used some defining makeup, as he came straight from the salon. But this was after the wedding ceremonies and I realised that this was regular that my husband wears makeup,” Nandana began her story.
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Makeup was OK for young men on Instagram
Men and makeup were a first for Nandana to handle. Of course, we know that in show business all men wear makeup, but in real life this is rare. On a daily basis, makeup is the female prerogative. Would welcoming this be a formula for happy married life or a sad proof of female insecurity?
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“My initial thought of Jigar with makeup was shattering. Seated opposite him for dinner I had a flashback of all the thoughts my friends and I had for those male beauty vloggers who were firing their looks on Instagram, flaunting their defined eyebrows and contour prowess. Those young boys are probably having fun, expressing themselves on social media and challenging societal norms of who can and cannot dare to wear makeup. They are also probably challenging the girls’ victory call, ‘If you think women can do all that men can do; we also can do all that women can do’. But I married a well-settled architect and not someone modelling on Instagram. Thus it wasn’t acceptable to me,” Nandana went further.
Gender equality should work both ways
She is a teacher in a school and her husband an architect. They are settled in Delhi. It is not news that metrosexual men are waxing chest hair, having pedicures, sitting for a facial, manicure and nail spa, shaping eyebrows and even trying new hair colours. This then is the next level of looking good. The problem for men like Jigar isn’t being superficially more effeminate, but other men’s sense of entitlement to an inalienable masculinity that their presentation puts at risk.
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The reality is harsh when it hits, but we need to stop trying to place everyone in boxes. When we fight for gender equality, it works the other way round too.
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When we fight for gender equality, it works the other way round too.
We need to stop assuming that each gender has their set forms of expressions, and this is just the truth. If someone wants to wear makeup, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, they should totally be allowed to. This is a harsh reality that would take time to digest in the Indian context.
I don’t understand why my husband wears makeup at all?
“It was okay when it was in the movies and on Instagram, but not in my real life. For some reason my love has got stuck. I couldn’t accept my husband wears makeup. There is nothing wrong in men wanting to use makeup, but Jigar looked very fake to me in the face. He is a handsome man, and he doesn’t need makeup at all. I’m concerned, because in this narcissistic era of ‘selfies’, it can cause him great pressure to look good all the time. I don’t wish for him to work hard on his face to maintain that sense of mystique in our relationship. I walk without a bit of makeup at home but he is made-up 24×7,” Nandana continued.
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Women usually wear makeup because it defines what they deem to be their best facial features, and camouflages those they consider to be not so desirable features, so that they feel more confident in a world that is judging them by what they look like. If Jigar’s goal in using makeup is to look feminine, then it would be a cause for concern, but if the intent is to cover a birthmark, even out a blemish or mask eye bags, or fixing something that makes him feel insecure, then it’s not commendable to be judgmental about him.
Besides, this is his way of life and not something developed after marriage, so Nandana should deal with it in a calm manner. When you wear makeup and don’t allow your husband the freedom to do so, it could be hypocritical, though wearing makeup is not the norm for men. Jigar is just different.
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I think makeup is solely a feminine prerogative
“He says it’s a super way to express himself and show the oomph factor, but I can’t accept it at all. He thinks wearing blush is cool, I don’t agree with his thoughts. In fact, he is the one who asked me to wear a bronzer and I found that an intrusion into my space. This doesn’t seem right, as I feel the right to makeup is totally feminine. I am concerned that he would turn gay eventually, though it’s a far fetched thought,” Nandana said.
It should ideally be more about how he feels over how you feel about it. Often we embrace things about our partners that are common to us and reflect our tastes, and here makeup can just be one of those common things.
Acceptance should cover every aspect of your partner’s choices
“We fight for the space before the mirror. And this fight disgusts me. He takes longer than me to dress up. I can’t take my husband putting on makeup as his creative outlet just because he is an architect. Other architects don’t wear makeup. I don’t think we can both share the same amount of femininity and masculinity in our relationship and coexist. It is tough on me,” Nandana puts her boundaries straight.
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If you have been very accepting about your husband, then makeup is also a matter of acceptance. You can’t be selectively accepting. It isn’t very easy to do, as it’s not the norm, but if that’s the way he likes it, then you have to reconsider your acceptance level. Experimenting with makeup won’t be an attack on his masculinity or his sexuality. Of course it could be ridiculed by others, but that is also for him to consider as to how he would handle it. Accepting another person in your bedroom who uses the vanity mirror may be weird, but if the emphasis is on the makeup alone, then the relationship will not pick up.
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What will everyone think?
“I cannot even think of a child, as I do not want my child, girl or boy to grow up seeing a father wear makeup. It is very hard on me when he wears smokey eyes or a shimmer. It doesn’t suit his profession either. I am surprised no one from his family noticed it so far,” she said further.
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Nandana is being harsh on her marriage and herself. Everybody deserves the right to feel like the very best possible version of themselves and thus we can’t stop our partner. On a lighter note, the sooner we get all men to try on makeup, the sooner we can de-stigmatise femininity, to disassociate femininity from weakness.
Confidence is the key, let them be confident in their skins. Marriage is all about the love and compromises.