Patrick Starrr on male beauty and makeup
Growing up, I was drawn to stories of transformation. I loved America’s Next Top Model and films like Cinderella and The Princess Diaries, which all center on metamorphosis through beauty.
Though YouTube was at the beginning of its era of beauty makeup gurus and beauty tutorials, it was still pretty scary to wear makeup publicly where I grew up in Orlando, Florida. I didn’t want to be bullied. I didn’t want to embarrass my family or parents. The last thing I wanted was to be discriminated against in public.
Makeup artist and YouTuber Patrick Starrr Credit: Patrick Starrr
But on top of that, coming from a Filipino-immigrant background and being the eldest of three boys, I had certain pressures from my parents to be their idea of “successful.” They wanted me to finish college and start a career as a nurse.
Against their wishes I got a job at the makeup store MAC after high school. That’s when I started to feel more confident in myself. I was surrounded by people who also loved makeup and I felt like I could actually sustain a livelihood off what I enjoyed. But I was a freelancer, and sometimes I’d be given no hours, so, YouTube became my main outlet.
At first there were a lot of bullies. There were very few men who were doing makeup tutorials on the platform back then. There were a lot of offensive comments back in the day. I felt dirty, or like I was committing a sin, when all I was doing was expressing myself. I learned quickly how to filter out negative comments. I really wanted to keep my channel as a positive space, a refuge for people that didn’t have the chance to be who they are.
Over the years, the haters have retreated. It’s become, in the US at least, a little more normal for men to wear makeup. You can look at the phenomenon of RuPaul’s Drag Race as an example. The cast members slipping between genders has opened people’s eyes to how makeup has no gender and shouldn’t have one.
Even my parents, 10 years later, have a completely different opinion about makeup. They love and appreciate it. Proving to them that I could sustain a livelihood from YouTube changed how they felt about my career choices. My mom, who never really wore makeup regularly, now loves to wear wigs and makeup and lashes.
Makeup, I believe, is truly “one size fits all” — it’s a saying that has become my mantra. I grew up in the era where Christy Turlington, Christie Brinkley, Tyra Banks and Adriana Lima were plastered all over cosmetic ads. But now I am too. The public will see a bald Filipino man in L’Oréal, Covergirl, MAC and Benefit cosmetic campaigns — and to think that’s me! The beauty industry hasn’t always been inclusive. People of different complexions and sizes were missing in casting and campaigns. But with the power of social media, that’s changed.
Patrick Starrr: “Makeup, I believe, is truly ‘one size fits all'” Credit: Patrick Starrr
I want to represent the people who haven’t felt seen or heard in the beauty industry. Sometimes it’s baffling to me that I’ve managed to create this space through the power of social media. Those who feel invisible can now be celebrated, and can challenge beauty norms.
Now the attitudes in the industry have shifted towards the acceptance of male beauty through makeup. Though there is more to be done in terms of inclusivity and representation — and a diverse range of voices yet to be heard — men, and even young boys, are bringing in millions of views through makeup tutorials. They’re able to express themselves with their platforms. They’re wearing nails, glitter, makeup and rhinestones and brands are looking to partner with them.
And that’s perhaps what I find most beautiful: being who you want to be with confidence; having a strong sense of self. You could be someone who wears no makeup, or someone who goes full-glam everyday — but what’s beautiful about all those things is you’re self-aware. You’re making the decision and taking the steps towards becoming who you want to be and owning it. That’s my definition of beauty.