To promote its golden-tubed Big Shot Mascara by Colossal, Maybelline is engaging in two firsts—working with beauty influencers, and using a man as the face of its campaign.
Manny Gutierrez, known to followers as @MannyMUA733, is an openly gay beauty influencer who's done makeup videos with brands like Grindr Hookup. And while every male star you know wears makeup for work, Manny's made the act of male glamming feel somehow both revolutionary and a little more normal … because we still live in a culture where makeup is mostly associated with women.
Aptly, Manny's Instagram profile leads with, "I think boys deserve just as much cosmetic recognition."
For Maybelline, Manny encourages viewers of all genders to "lash like a boss." Check him out in "That Boss Life," a branded video series that also features beauty influencer Shayla Mitchell:
The New York Times points out that beauty contracts are a brass ring for celebrities—a nod to a rising profile, broadening visibility while padding their wallets. The beauty and fashion industries also pave the way for new norms when something is finally drawn into their ranks, be it aged beauty or cross-dressing.
So, it's good news that Maybelline isn't even the first beauty brand to welcome a male face into its lofty midst. In October, Cover Girl tapped makeup artist James Charles—who drew media attention for retaking his senior class photos because he didn't like the highlighter on his cheekbones—to star as its first Cover Boy.
Brands like Milk Makeup and Anastasia Beverly Hills also feature men in campaigns. And last fall, Giorgio Armani launched a gender-neutral lip balm called Him/Her Lipcare, building on existing male makeup lines by Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs.
A 2013 JWT survey of 1,000 men in the U.S. and U.K. found that 54 percent of men use skincare products like moisturizer and eye cream. A past British poll by RoxyPalace found that men spend just £50 (about $60) less per month on grooming products than women (about $2,172 versus women's $2,994 per year).
Not to say we don't yet have a long way to go. Manny's Maybelline contract also follows a social fracas over ASOS's male choker necklaces. Allure's David Yi said the bizarre, but unsurprising, backlash "promotes the dangerous sentiment that men are supposed to adhere to hypermasculine culture."
Sexism: It cuts both ways. (Or as Yi writes, "Equality. It goes both ways.")
In a statement, Manny says he's "thrilled to be able to work with a global brand like Maybelline that is recognizing male influencer talent and is willing to shine a spotlight on it."
Here's to a world in which one's genitals no longer dictate what you can wear on your face (or otherwise), much less how safe you feel walking down the street. Below, catch Manny and Shayla in part two of "The Boss Life."