2017 is the year we're hoping to see gender stereotypes in the beauty industry disappear for good. It sounds like a tall order, but when you consider how much progress has been made, it's certainly not impossible. And we have Generation Z, in large part, to thank for that.
In recent months, we've seen CoverGirl, Rimmel London, and Maybelline appoint male ambassadors; the launch of gender-fluid beauty brands; trans models grace the pages of magazines; and men in makeup infiltrate the entertainment industry. The latest trailblazer: singer/songwriter Jen Hirsh, professionally known as Monogem. Two weeks ago, she released her latest electro-pop single, "Wild," and the video for the song features two friends — a young boy and girl — discovering makeup for the first time.
"'Wild' is an anthem for anybody who has trouble finding rest and being reckless and wild and who they truly are," Hirsh told us over the phone. "I thought it would be interesting to show young teenagers and what getting wild looks like to them." In this case, that turns out to be eating popcorn, watching movies, and discovering makeup for the first time.
When casting the video, Hirsh called upon longtime family friend Coco Arquette, 12, the daughter of Friends star Courteney Cox. "I've always wanted to have her star in one of my music videos but I was waiting for the perfect opportunity," Hirsh said. Then, she organized a casting call to find a young boy willing to apply makeup on camera. "I just got really lucky with casting [when I found Matthew RC Taylor]. We are starting to see a little more gender equality in the big beauty world, but you don't see it all the time. Matthew and Coco apply makeup together and I thought that would be a really cool thing to show."
15-year-old Taylor, who got his start on the app Musical.ly and has been open about his sexual identity on YouTube, turned out to be the perfect choice. "I wear makeup because in elementary school and middle school, I wasn't good at painting and drawing," he told us. "When I put on makeup, it's my form of artistry. I can't really put my thoughts onto paper, so I do it on my face."
For Arquette, makeup has long been a part of her life, too. "My mom let me experiment with makeup. When I was five years old, I took my mom's Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Gel and put it on my eyelashes thinking it was clear mascara — it stayed on for a week. I think makeup is great for enhancing your beauty, not hiding everything."
Still, Taylor doesn't think that the beauty industry's recent push for gender equality has permeated into the the most fraught adolescent environment: school. "In reality, there's bullying. Principals will accept [that beauty isn't gender-specific] but they won't do anything about it when it comes to bullying." Taylor, who has personally experienced negative reactions, is wise beyond his years when it comes to understanding the factors at play: "Straight males feel uncomfortable for some reason at my school. When a boy wears makeup, they feel it threatens their masculinity when in reality that's not what it's about at all."
When asked how to create a safe space for those who want to experiment with beauty, Arquette, Coco, and Hirsh said they believe that support is key. "If someone is trying to tell you a problem in their life, just listen. Make them feel like you're their brother or sister. Listen and accept," advised Taylor. "More schools can also expand on bullying rules to create safe environments, too," added Hirsh.
Arquette, Hirsh, and Taylor all hope to see gender-specific stereotypes in the beauty community disappear, and "Wild" is their way of working toward that goal. "If you don't think it's okay for everybody to do what they want with their own style, then you need to learn, man," Arquette said. "It's 2017; get with the program!"
See Hirsh, Arquette, and Taylor get wild with makeup in the exclusive video below.