In a world filled with gender roles and judgments, M-A senior Valente Magana does not buy into stereotypes. Whether it’s wearing makeup or trying out colorful hair dye, Magana sees his appearance as a form of self-expression.

“I kind of see makeup as a way to be creative.”

Before he began wearing makeup every day, Magana always looked forward to Halloween, when he felt it was more socially acceptable for men to wear makeup. Sophomore year, he dressed up as a cheetah with spotted face paint and eyeliner. He recalled, “I think that was the first time I did my nails for school. I had like gold glitter, but I took it off the next day because I thought I shouldn’t have it.”

Valente Magana poses with a friend on Halloween. Credit: Valente Magana.

Magana explained that his love for wearing makeup began soon after that, with what he dubbed the “eyebrow incident.” He started getting his eyebrows waxed halfway into sophomore year.

He explained, “It was never anything dramatic, but one time I got it with a different lady. She did them too thin and I thought, ‘I can’t go to school like this,’ so I filled them in. At first, I wasn’t sure about it, but all my friends said I looked good, so that’s how it started.”

Since he began wearing makeup, Magana finds it easier to be himself. He explained that it’s a way to be unique, and it has definitely increased his confidence when interacting with others.

“I’ve always been a more quiet person, but since I’ve started wearing makeup, I feel like I can be more open. Also if someone says something rude to me, I can just be like, ‘It’s none of your business,’” said Magana.

Still, Magana feels like others sometimes see men wearing a lot of makeup as “inappropriate.” He’s looking into getting a job at Sephora because of the store’s makeup-friendly atmosphere.

“You can have a full face there and no one will say anything, and I would feel good there. But on the streets, some people aren’t okay with it.”

Although he believes the Bay Area is less restrictive with gender stereotypes, not everyone is accepting.

“I’ve had strangers ask, ‘Are you a girl?’ and I’m like, ‘Why are you asking me this? That’s not your business.’ That’s such an odd question.”

Valente Magana takes a selfie showing off his makeup. Credit: Valente Magana.

Magana believes “makeup has no gender,” and doesn’t understand why it should be inherently feminine. He believes confining hobbies to a specific gender can be harmful, and attributes his openness to the way he was raised.

“I feel like I was never forced to do ‘manly things.’ I would just do whatever I wanted to do, and I’m glad,” he stated.

His family values self-expression, and Magana is grateful for his mother’s support.

“When I first started wearing makeup, [my mother] asked me once why I was doing it, and I said ‘because I think I look good.’ She never really questioned it after that.”

Magana helps her with her makeup now and sees it as a bonding experience.

“Makeup has no gender.”

Magana thinks society as a whole is moving toward being more accepting. He believes to the introduction of the first CoverBoy, a previously all-female model position for makeup brand CoverGirl, was a big step towards acceptance of men wearing makeup. News like this gives Magana high hopes for the future.

“In the years to come, I would like to see that there’s no judgment or anything; you can just do anything and it’s okay.”

Magana hopes his journey will help others be less afraid to be different from the norm.

Magana reflected, “The only thing really stopping you from being yourself is you. There are always people who are going to judge you. But your friends should be the people who will support and care about you, and anyone who’s gonna judge you isn’t important anyway.”

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