A history of modern beauty in four chapters.
Chapter 1: On the rise of strong “oriental” fragrances that reflected the political and cultural landscapes of their time, the 1980s.
Chapter 3: On botanical oils, a simple fact of life in much of the world that, here in the West, began to take on an almost religious aura in the 2000s.
Chapter 4: On men wearing makeup, a practice with a long history, but one that has really taken off in the last decade.
In this issue, we look at four arenas — hair, skin care, fragrance and makeup — in which the beauty industry has been transformed in the past four decades, and how those transformations changed how we collectively came to see, or re-see, our physical selves.
One of the most profound shifts in recent years might be the degendering of makeup. In her story, the T writer at large Megan O’Grady argues that a number of factors — the rise of vlogging, the mainstreaming of drag, the intertwining of queerness and gender identity, the democratization of celebrity — have converged to create a cultural moment in which male-identified people find themselves experimenting with makeup in a way that would have been considered deeply subversive, and even dangerous, only 10 or so years ago.
Male rock ’n’ roll stars had long worn eyeliner and lipstick onstage, she acknowledges, but this is something different: This is makeup not just for performance but for the everyday. This is makeup as women have long worn makeup — as a kind of artifice, sure, but also as an invitation to see us as we see ourselves, a gesture far more intimate and revealing.
Hanya Yanagihara is the editor in chief of T Magazine. The Complete masthead can be found in the Big Fat Media Guide here.