Beneath the Male Polish

The fashion industry has been erasing the cliche border between feminine and masculine adornment, so what’s the issue?

Let us start with a brief introduction of the definition of toxic masculinity in today’s society. The neurological programming of both men and women are almost identical; the manner in which we process sentiment within ourselves is one in the same. Throughout history, the generalized male stereotype stifles emotion and articulation of sensitivity. While anger and aggression are appropriate expressions of emotion, it’s been deemed socially unacceptable for a man to cry in public and detach from his masculine label. In a sense, toxic masculinity is, by loose definition, “macho.” Softening this toxic virility has been practiced through the application of makeup and drag, challenging society’s steely male stereotype. But this salient issue runs beneath the surface of semblance.

The most efficient way to improve systemic issues lies in the influence of the culture we live in. Celebrities like Timothee Chalamet and Jared Leto have been pushing the standards of virility, inspiring followers world-wide. Their iconic red carpet looks have been praised for expression in a way that is out-of-the-box and exciting. British singer-songwriter David Bowie was among one of the first male icons to wear nail polish on and off the stage. His unique androgynistic qualities set him in an influential league of his own. Marc Jacobs created a weekly movement of #manimonday to advertise his own lacquer line. But it seemed that his weekly manicure broadcast had an impact expanding beyond product sales.

This movement is widespread, but leaves us wondering; is cross-dressing going to solve the pre-existing systematic problem, or is it simply masking an even greater issue?

Generation Z has finally begun paving the way in embracing the wide spectrum of fluid masculinity. The movement stemmed from the gay community through the application of what is typically considered feminine adornment. Now a more mainstream concept, it’s being acquired by males of all sexual backgrounds. However, the issue at hand is masking underlying toxicity. Simply endorsing a societal trend is incapable of altering a subject fundamentally ingrained into our society.

The barrier of toxic masculinity, built from the historical and cultural stigma of male idealism has become challenged by a new wave of young and inspired individuals. Stereotypical feminine adornment is finally being addressed and accepted by many, especially in the spectrums of the art industry. It’s important to remind ourselves that this topic runs deeper than the clothes, manicures and accessories. Though we’re present in a progressive generation where straight cis men can feel comfortable enough with their sexuality, what are these individuals accomplishing to strike change?

We can thank distinctive celebrities for their contributions to the movement, but simply masking a systemic issue by bringing the topic forward is not sufficient. Change occurs through a societal and interpersonal culture movement. Most importantly, fluid masculinity is not only about how one embraces themself, but equally those surrounding them. It’s about character on the inside as well as the life one aspires to lead.

Written by Anna Vescovi and Lance Langel

Graphic by Isaac Grothe

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