In society, the image of men has always been that of an aggressive, straight, masculine, and publicly unemotional person. However, as time has progressed, many famous celebrities have dared to challenge this toxic concept of manhood.
In the seventies, there was a rise in glam rock bands and artists, like New York Dolls, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, etc. The most notable was David Bowie, who released Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars in 1972. David Bowie created alter ego Ziggy Stardust, and wore eccentric and colorful costumes. Ziggy wasn’t complete without his iconic makeup, which was bold and unusual. His album was met with some controversy, of course. Nevertheless, he wasn’t afraid to push the boundaries of what a man was even more, creating new looks and new egos in his career.
Another artist who challenged the social norms was Prince, a legendary artist who gained prominence in the eighties. Prince had no filter in his music, being known for being sexually explicit, which was a risk since a big topic in the 80s was censorship in the media. In his performances, he was known for having androgynous looks, wearing makeup and decked in striking costumes. Though, he didn’t just defy gender roles, he also rebelled against racial stereotypes associated with black men.
Prince isn’t the only artist on this list who confronted masculinity in the eighties. George Michael, who rose to fame in the eighties with Andrew Ridgeley, both in a duo called Wham!. However, he differs from everyone in this list, because he didn’t challenge masculinity on the outside. His iconic outfit consisted of a leather jacket, ripped jeans, and a tank top, wearing his signature cross earring. In 1998, George’s sexuality was outed due to a arrest that happened in April. He then embraced being a LGBT icon, frequently expressing his support for equality. He was also unapologetic about his sexuality, being vocal about it.
Nowadays, there’s been a new generation of famous men who protested against tradition, celebrities like James Charles and Jaden Smith. In 2016, James Charles, a seventeen year old makeup artist, became the first “CoverBoy,” being the face of CoverGirl, a cosmetic brand. Jaden Smith, a eighteen year old model/actor modeled for Louis Vuitton’s women’s fashion line, wearing typically “feminine” items like skirts and dresses. He also wore dresses on several other occasions, even to Amandla Stenberg’s prom.
Throughout the years, multiple celebrities have dared to be themselves and did the opposite of what society has told men to do. These celebrities have inspired generations of boys across the world to be fearless and not to be terrified of expressing themselves and their emotions. These celebrities taught a universal, important message; that there was no right way to be a man.