In my previous post, I wrote about and celebrated my female icons. As a feminist, I almost felt obliged for my next post to discuss the men that captivate me through their visuals, their expression of androgynous fashion, and generally inspire me day-to-day. There are plenty of men who guide me in my daily life. Those who I know personally and those who I admire through the media. The last impression I wanted to give in my previous blog post was that I ignored the revolution and the power of men.
The list begins with my father, who works very hard each day to provide for his family. His work ethic is everything I aspire to be, and he raised my sisters and I to be genuinely good people with selfless morals. His encouragement through my childhood is what caused me to be the woman I am today. Along with my grandfathers who share the same qualities and set examples for me, my sisters and cousin. These three men, my boyfriend, all of my male friends… how could I not be taken aback as to what men are capable of?
However, just like all genders, men go through plenty of struggles too. It’s hard to ignore that men are in fear of showing emotion in case their masculinity is deemed decreased by others. What really concerns me are the statistics regarding mental health issues among men. Men may fear seeking help for their depression, anxiety, eating disorders, etc. due to society labelling these issues as women-centric. But society could not be more wrong. Here are some statistics that really took me by surprise:
- Just over three out of four suicides (76%) are by men and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35
- 12.5% of men in the UK are suffering from one of the common mental health disorders
- Men are nearly three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent (8.7% of men are alcohol dependent compared to 3.3% of women
- Men are more likely to use (and die from) illegal drugs
- Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women. Only 36% of referrals to IAPT (Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies) are men
The last statistic is deeply concerning to me. The out-of-date ideology that ‘men should be men’ and have a ‘manly’ outer shell always on show is probably one of the leading factors as to why so many males are remaining undiagnosed and without help. Just like women, men struggle too. We all have a brain – and brains can be scary sometimes. Sometimes we just need that little bit of help, and that’s okay.
My point today is that men should not live in fear of their masculinity being ‘damaged’ or seen as less worthy, and I truly believe that we are slowly but surely realising this as a society. Look at the evolution of male beauty bloggers and YouTubers, for example. They are taking the social media world by storm. Men can wear make up. Men can wear dresses. Men can have long hair, styled however they want. Hell – they can grow it down to their bums and have their eyelashes curled, their face smothered with make up – does that make them less of a man? Absolutely not. With the countless number of judgemental people out there, I think that’s pretty bloody brave if you ask me.
When I was around fourteen, I completely and absolutely dove into the world of music. With the discovery of YouTube and Spotify, I would come home from school each day and spend hours on the computer being enlightened to all of the music out there, past and present. Some of my discoveries are still my favourites to this day, in fact. But what I really became enlightened to was the androgynous icons that have captivated the world with their unique presentation of themselves. I have always been creative and a lover of visual art, but this took it to a whole new level.
Here are some of the fashion icons within the music industry that will hopefully remind all of the men out there that if you wanna dress a bit differently or throw on a bit of make up, that’s perfectly fine. And if not, that’s perfectly fine too. You do you. Regardless, they deserve to be celebrated…
Cobain is probably one of the most significant discoveries I made as a mere fourteen year old. His perspective of the world, his quotes, his music and unbeatable voice – he truly made his mark within the 1990s grunge scene.
His greasy blonde long hair, occasional application of eyeliner and the styling of a vintage looking floral dress is what truly made him remarkable. The contrast between these and the sound of his grungey guitar riffs and raspy, rough singing voice makes him stand out from the others, and proves my point here exactly. Did he rock less just because he wore a dress? Absolutely not.
Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin
A true icon of the 1970s, Robert Plant is pretty identifiable…
The wild mane of long hair, the skin tight trousers and open shirt or cropped top, often with a floral design created an individualistic image for himself. His increasingly ‘flamboyant’ style while performing the hard rock, blues rock, etc. genre only added more to his charismatic charm on stage. His bare chest somewhat gave a vibe of power to his audience, and gained him much attention. His signature bare chest even won him the bizarre award “Chest O Rama” by Rock Scene Magazine. The fact that his bandmates shared some of his qualities gave them a great vibe of power. These are men who rock the hell out of their instruments dressing however they damn well please.
Bowie is the epitome of art rock, in every sense of the phrase. His personas on stage made him unforgettable and his legacy will live on forever. His reluctance to shy away from his artistic urges is what inspires me as a visual art admirer.
His colourful outfits, everchanging hairstyles and make up aesthetics made him hard to keep up with. But what’s better than keeping the people on their toes? He made everyone who thought they were a little bit strange proud of who they are. And I think that’s what makes a true icon in itself. Shortly after his death, I was in Brixton to attend a concert and while I was there I paid a visitto his wall mural. The amount of respect paid was truly humbling, and made me so aware of the effect he had on the world. If this was just in one small part of London, imagine the impact he made on the entire world…
Axl Rose of Guns n’ Roses
Another significant discovery I made as a little’un. I had already heard of Guns n’ Roses (unsurprisingly) but it wasn’t until I indulged properly that his distinctive voice blew me away. Like Bowie, his everchanging vocal range can keep you on your toes. In Slash’s memoir, Slash, he wrote: “His squeal was so high-pitched that I thought it might be a technical flaw on the tape,” and I think that says it all.
But combine this with his exterior persona and you have yourself a winner when it comes to terms of iconic. The flowing long hair, the leather, the skin tight trousers, the accessories, the cropped tops. In close minded peoples eyes, this is what a man should not look like. But this isn’t the 1930s. And who gives a damn? Not Mr Rose.
Prince and Michael Jackson
Not only did these men reinforce that men have the power to dress how they please, they also reminded everyone than men of colour can do it too. And what a legacy these wonderful men caused. Their visual image became just as iconic as what their records contained.
Prince and Michael Jackson both went through a whirlwind of a journey with their individual fashion styles. All of their looks were beautiful, in my opinion. But my favourite of Prince was most definitely the Purple Rain era. In my perspective, his image was perfected at that point. The frilly ruffle shirt, the head of bouncing dark curls, the platform boots. I’m sure when people think of Prince, they think of that. I do, anyway.
It is hard to pick for me my favourite MJ look. It is most definitely between the Billie Jean era or his aesthetic in the music video for Bad. My heart is swaying towards Billie Jean… The perfect clash of the red bow tie and the pink shirt, the harsh contrast of the patent suit combined with his distinctive dance moves and swagger causes euphoria in any visual art lovers heart. May they live on.
Robert Smith and Marilyn Manson
Here are two men with very different styles in terms of musically and visually, but their love of make up bounds them together. Smiths smudged red lipstick and black eyeliner and eyeshadow contrasted with Mansons precise blending and pale complexion is what makes it so brilliant. Men absolutely killing the make up look, celebrating and enhancing the features that they were blessed with, all while making music. Perfect.
I’ve heard plenty of critics explain both of these males as scary, intimidating, whatever you want to call it. But I’m intrigued as to why. Is it really that scary to see a diversity in appearance? Dare to be different, I say.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading into the males that captivate me through their visual personas. I have thoroughly enjoyed celebrating males and females in my previous blog posts. Remember that we are all human and we all have the power to make a change, regardless of whatever path we each go down.
Thank you | Lucy Violet x