The night I met my now-boyfriend — that’s him, to the left — I was pretty drunk. So drunk, in fact, that the next day I had to ask my friend what he looked like. Was he cute? “Yeah,” she said, “and he was wearing makeup! He looked cool.”
“Yeah, he was wearing eyeliner!”
I was relieved that I hadn’t gone home with a Kiss fan or a Juggalo—just a dude who wears eyeliner. And you know what? I like it!
“Guyliner,” as some call it, is not just for the Pete Wentzes (or Adam Lamberts, or Russell Brands) of the world. Rockers like Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper and David Bowie all wore man-makeup way before Wentz. And before that, men in 17th-century France, and ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, penciled and powdered their faces. It’s silly to think men wearing eyeliner is anything new or shocking.
For my boyfriend, eyeliner is part of his everyday routine. Just like he brushes his teeth and shaves every morning, he puts on eyeliner. He’s been wearing it since high school—when his first girlfriend told him he’d look good with it—and he doesn’t give it much thought.
Really, why should his eyeliner carry any more symbolic weight than my red lipstick? I’m sure people don’t make assumptions about my sexuality based on my lipstick, or think that I’m a fan of Gwen Stefani. So why should anyone assume men with eyeliner are gay (and so what?), or that they’re fans of terrible third-wave emo bands?
Our friends agree that my boyfriend’s eyeliner is no big deal. My friends compliment him on it, if they bother to mention it at all. My boyfriend’s more traditionally masculine friends—like, say, his ex-Marine buddy—have never mentioned it, even jokingly. And in almost a year of dating, I’ve never heard anyone on the street or in a bar make a comment about it.
And me? I like my boyfriend’s eyeliner because it looks good on him. I like it because when I was in high school, I thought photos of Kurt Cobain or (young) Iggy Pop with eyeliner looked good. Jay looks like the boyfriend I would have dreamed up when I was 15. Like Andy Warhol said, “Sex is nostalgia for sex.”
My boyfriend’s penchant for raccoon eyes has only bothered me once: when he told me his brand of eyeliner was better than mine. He only told me once because I was totally right, and he uses my eyeliner brand now (CoverGirl)! Otherwise? No big deal.
Oh, and can we stop calling it “guyliner”? My boyfriend hates that.