Gordon Milward, a 23-year-old, freelance makeup artist in the North East, shares his experience of working within the beauty industry, dealing with bullies, gender equality and his opinions on men wearing makeup.
“When sexism was aimed at me, I lit a fire up my arse. It made me want to work harder.” Gordon Milward, the most genuine and beautiful soul I have ever met. Was I bothered about whether my makeup was good enough to meet him? Certainly not. He was so gentle and welcoming, it was like having coffee with a sassy best friend. We met at Starbucks, where we immediately bonded over their Christmas themed cups this year. Although we were sitting in to drink, we both claimed to be “taking out” just to receive the little cup of joy.
In 2012, Gordon was 19 years old when he experimented with makeup on himself after previously applying it on his closest female friends. Grateful to the lady who plucked too hard at his eyebrows, he needed a beauty product to fix it. He said: “From then on, I picked up skills and added products to my daily routine.” I was eager for him to tell me the best and worst type of clients he had dealt within three years of retail and what surprised me was he said he had received a lot of sexism whilst working on a cosmetic counter. Looking at him, I was baffled, he was gorgeous and so confident. Gordon opened up about being mentally and physically bullied as a teenager therefore he broke away from the routine of school and joined a college where he studied Graphic Design. He said so proudly, “I will walk around the Metrocentre with a full face of makeup on, I don’t care what anybody thinks anymore.”
“The first guy I saw wearing makeup was ‘MacDaddy’ on Instagram, his real name, Angel Merino. Every other man I had seen wearing makeup previously looked either undetectable or it was done in a feminine way. But it was the first time I had saw a guy with a smoky eye on but looking really cool. A man keeping himself groomed can sometimes be seen as a vain thing therefore men who wear makeup can be seen as self absorbed however it is likely to be the complete opposite. They can be hiding something they are insecure about. If a lot more actors/actresses, promoted makeup worn by everybody, both genders. It can have a knock on effect and people will realise you don’t have to be a homosexual guy to wear makeup. I break this mould. A lot of people perceive men who wear makeup to have big personalities, fully feminine and in your face whereas I would like to think I am very approachable, gentle and genuine guy. I would like to think my exterior would give that off too. I have friends who put makeup on their boyfriends. Men have the fear because of society’s ideals of what genders have to be or act like. “
It was interesting to hear a man’s point of view about cosmetics and makeup artists considering 2016 seems to be the year makeup artistry has become extremely popular. Makeup traces back to the ancient Egyptians, who were the first women to wear makeup therefore it has always been the stereotype that women were the only ones that should be wearing makeup. With the support of social media taking over our lives, photos of men wearing and applying makeup are taking over our feed, Gordon being one example of this. He regularly rocks a big, bold brow with highlighted cheek bones and neatly trimmed beard. Beauty is for everyone!
Should makeup be genderless? The advertisements we see on television promoting beauty products feature women whereas Gordon reveals he would rather buy products or take advice by an individual who had clearly tried it, broadcasting their opinions via social media rather than a celebrity who was potentially paid to promote or endorse a product. I think many people will agree. Bloggers/Instagram influencers have risen high in the past three years. Their content, often on Instagram or YouTube, is managed and created themselves.
An example Gordon shared me with that day was how he changed a stranger’s life by approaching her to try some new beauty products. He said: “I did her makeup for half an hour showing her skills and easy ways to apply the products. She returned four months later, pulled me to one side and told me how severely depressed she had been with plans to take her life but she felt so comfortable with me, it took her mind off sadness. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. That was a clear sign I was in the correct career, to make someone feel so happy they can overcome their own problems without either one of you knowing it.”
“I’ve became more familiar with creating my own YouTube videos. I have created various looks and recently posted a ‘Question/Answer’ video where I answer questions which my followers asked on my Instagram posts. For a following video, I would love to do a “Men in Makeup” feature that will be aimed to send a message out to people on what I have personally dealt with working in the industry. I’d like to be a voice for people who are similar to me that yes some things occur that aren’t wanted or ideal but it doesn’t define you. I want to be more than somebody who just puts makeup on myself and other people. I want people to know my thoughts, opinions and what I stand for. I’d love my boyfriend to do my makeup.”
Gordon has set a goal for himself in the future. His dream is to be a celebrity makeup artist or move to a different city. He believes makeup works like fashion does. Where there are fashion capitals of the world, there are makeup capitals, usually centred around where TV studios are. He isn’t the typical sales driven person you see as you walk through a beauty hall, there is so much more to him. He wants to get to know you.
For the last three months, Gordon has been working extremely hard on a secret project revealed in the next few days. I managed to squeeze a small amount of information out of him, he said: “It features every skin tone and every face shape.” In a world full of aspiring makeup artists, I most certainly ended up chatting to the best one.