Know Your HERstory: "Women's" Fashion is for everyone.
It’s a few ticks before noon on a Sunday morning. There’s a strong, stale tobacco smell lingering in your hair from the night before. You rub your tongue over your teeth and grimace, as they're still wearing plaque from the countless sugary beverages you consumed. You reach for your phone and wake the screen, hoping to find a text from your friend to piece-together at least a fragment of the preceding evening’s events. About a quarter of Carly Rae Jepson's E•MO•TION album has played as you’ve responded to texts, flipped through awfully hilarious Trump memes, and scrolled/tapped aimlessly through Instagram.
Suddenly, you stop on a photo of a hand with fresh lacquer – OPI’s Dark Side of the Moon. It belongs to your self-identified androgynous and queer bff. 237 likes so far (yasss get it, bitch), with comments extending well beyond your phone’s (shattered) screen. A lot of the comments are positive commendations from friends and fans. There are, however, quite a few throwing shade in the form of bug-eye, side-eye and cry-laugh emojis, as well as not-so-uncommon slurs typically thrown at “effeminate” men by straight-cis men.
Centuries ago, royal men stained their nails different colors for ceremonies. Greek men wore heeled-shoes to establish their superiority and be closer to God. CLOSER TO GOD. When did lipstick become “feminine”? Why does my Moschino purse, in all its fleekness, draw negative attention in the form of a slur from a man across the street (who just-so-happens to carry his own purse, shrouded in a thick, mysterious veil known as a “briefcase”)? Passé historical decisions, ones keeping us tucked and packed neatly in our gender, race, and class binaries, are being challenged and excommunicated by artists, queers, brands, and other folks fed-up with the invisible establishment telling us how we should live our lives. Whoopi Goldberg is executive producing a television series called Strut, a modeling competition for transgendered men and women. Adam Lambert, Zac Efron, Snoop Lion, Wiz Khalifa, Seal, and Jared Leto are sporting colorful manicures in the public eye. Hip hop, once dominated by hyper-masculine and homophobic ideologies, is now being re-born by queer artists such as Kaycee Ortiz, Mister Wallace, Ash B. and so many others. As our generation continues its (slow, but steady) upward trajectory towards acceptance and love of all people, it makes me wonder:
If religion, government entities, and corporate media didn't dictate the ideologies that define gender/sexuality today, what would "men" of the past look like today?
Chinese and Japanese men stained their fingernails with gelatin, gum arabic, and egg to signify their high-status in society (est. 3000 B.C.)
King Louis XIII of France began wearing wigs to hide his baldness. As his influence spread throughout Europe, many presidents, judges, and composers began wearing them, as well (est. 17th century)
Men's boots and shoes were created with heels to maintain a grip in the stirrups while riding a horse. (est. 10th century)
Egyptian men wore black eyeliner to reduce glare from desert sunlight. Men of power wore heels, also, for ceremonial purposes, while butchers wore them to avoid stepping on the bloody bodies of animal carcasses (est. 3500 B.C.)