Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts
Link to Alison Bechwati's Senior Art Thesis  

Kahlil  Gibran

Alison  Bechwati 

Men in Makeup: A History of Cosmetics

Kahlil Gibran: Discovering the Individual

Kahlil Gibran expresses the struggle of going against what society believes is just throughout his various poems and parables. By exploring the recurring themes of rebellion and the oppression of women in his works, he criticizes laws created by man and reflects more favorably on the laws of nature and God. For example, in his prose piece titled Broken Wings, Gibran uses the metaphor of a bird unable to fly away and escape because of its broken wings in order to signify just how trapped women in the Middle East were during the early twentieth century. He suggests various ways to escape society and achieve eternal happiness throughout his works. Those characters in Gibran’s works who do not care about what society thinks of them are happy in the end because they understand the power of the individual, whereas those who do care about others’ perceptions and allow society to control their thoughts and actions end up trapped and unhappy. Through his poetic language, he asserts his dissatisfaction with the leaders of Lebanon and communicates his desire to withdraw from society.

Similar to Gibran, men who have an interest in makeup have more recently started to express their identities and act against societal norms. Cosmetics were originally intended for both sexes to wear. In the past, men could be seen wearing eyeliner in Egypt or with a white powdered face and rouge in France. This was all normal, and the expectation of a woman wearing makeup was the same for men. However, as Christian societies in Europe grew more conservative, societal perceptions of masculinity made male cosmetics taboo. Men were discouraged to wear makeup as many philosophers and Enlightenment thinkers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau agreed that makeup was a facade that hid the inherent physical differences between men and women. In recent years, however, attitudes towards men wearing makeup are shifting and becoming more normalized and accepted as a result of social media. Nowadays, courageous male individuals have surfaced online showcasing their talents with makeup, and breaking down the barrier that has existed since early times.

Major Works Consulted:

Aucoin, Kevyn. Making Faces . New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1997.
Gibran, Kahlil. The Madman: His Parables and Poems. New York: Dover, 2001.
---. The Prophet. New York: Random, 2015.
Jones, Geoffrey. Beauty Imagined: A History of the Global Beauty Industry. New York: Oxford U.P., 2010.

Photo Credit: “Kahlil Gibran.” Goodreads.


 Link to Alison Bechwati's Senior Art Thesis