Story by Christina Freudenthaler.
Photo by Katelyn Eslinger.
Some women like to watch football. Some men like to get pedicures. It’s the twenty-first century – traditional gender norms really shouldn’t exist anymore. But they do. So how do we, as a society, overcome the perception that men can’t be pretty and women can’t be handsome?
Victor Royalè Lawrance, makes it his mission to challenge society’s views of gender by being an advocate for inclusivity and acceptance.
This 22-year-old local YouTuber is a male model for the Numa network, a social media personality and a professional make-up artist that specializes in male cosmetics. He is best known for his make-up reviews and tutorials, his vivacious banter, and his send off, ‘like me, always be victorious’, on his YouTube channel.
“We need to fight for more inclusivity,” states Lawrance.
“I don’t think it makes sense to put people in specific boxes. Instead of putting people down, we need to raise them up.”
Born in Brazil, Lawrance and his family moved back and forth frequently between there and Canada. An innovative and creative child, Lawrance faced the adversity of learning English as a second language and definitively moving to a new country with a culture unfamiliar to him, one where he didn’t quite feel welcomed into. The older he got, the more challenging it was for him to fit in.
“Trying to be yourself and authentic was really difficult,” reveals Lawrance.
Thanks to playing around with cinematic make-up in high school drama class, Lawrance began to feel comfortable tampering with cosmetics. Because cinematic make-up is perceived as ‘socially acceptable,’ he felt more comfortable being creative and artistic with it.
“I wondered why we couldn’t step out of that industry. That’s where it all kind of started, and I really fell in love with how transforming it is,” expresses Lawrance.
Growing up, Lawrance received his first camera from his dad, which sparked his love for video production. Filming, editing and sharing his videos started with his family, and turned into a passion he wanted to share with the world.
YouTube gives Lawrance a platform to express himself, to be creative, to stand up to the negativity, and to challenge traditional gender norms.
Lawrance regularly receives hate comments on his videos and experiences tense encounters in real life – weird looks or awkward inquires from bystanders is something that has unfortunately become the norm for him.
“Obviously I put myself out there and I’m totally entitled to get that feedback, it’s someone’s opinion, but it’s definitely been a struggle. So I think the people that really don’t understand at all, really come for me,” divulges Lawrance, “but I’ve learned to roll it off my shoulders.”
Why is it that most of the push back that Lawrance receives is negative? Does he represent a threat to masculinity? Maybe. But let’s get serious here: men wearing make-up really isn’t that taboo. In fact, it’s been a prevalent part of the make-up industry’s history for quite some time now.
If the upper class Egyptian man adorned his eyes with liner and bold colours, why can’t a modern day man do that as well? If actors and male-models wear make-up for professional reasons, why is it so strange that they wear make-up in their every day life? We can accept celebrities like Russell Brand, Boy George, Johnny Depp, David Bowie, hell, even Elvis Presley, but why can’t we accept a guy friend, or male colleague for wearing foundation, bronzer or contour?
“[Wearing make-up] doesn’t define one to be less of a man. You’re not less of a man because you wear it. I think it’s about your creativity and where your interests are,” explains Lawrance.
Fast-forward to recent pop-culture news, and the topic of gender norms has been challenged in a way that has forced the discourse to change. For example, Jaden Smith modeling a skirt made for women in a 2016 Louis Vuitton ad, or CoverGirl’s announcement of their first ever Cover Boy, James Charles, in late 2016.
This discourse change created a sense of community and understanding amongst others who felt similar, specifically those who don’t abide by society’s rules in regard to gender norms.
The point being, if a woman wants to grow out her armpit hair, she should without being shamed for it. If a man wants to wear moisturizer and a little bit of concealer to look presentable, he should without being shamed for it.
It’s okay to be unconventional, outside the box, weird, and different. We are all individuals; what sets us apart is our individuality. What divides us are the invisible lines we draw.