PatrickStarrr & The Changing Landscape Of Beauty

by Erin Mayer

It's easy to dismiss YouTube videos about beauty as being "just for fun," but doing so undermines their incredible power. Makeup enthusiasts can arguably be held directly responsible for changing the beauty landscape, and they help to dismantle stereotypical societal ideals. Take Patrick Simondac, known as PatrickStarrr, one of the male beauty gurus on YouTube who demonstrates that yes, men can be into makeup — and damn good at applying it, too.

Of course, from drag queens to emo singers, there is a long history of men wearing makeup. But the concept is becoming more mainstream of late, in part because of platforms like YouTube. "I love doing all the fun tutorials, especially the transformations because you get to put on a wig, you get to show makeup, and I think my transformations are just so shocking online that [the viewers] don’t see just the look, but they see the personality and everything else behind it," Simondac, who started his YouTube channel in 2013, tells Bustle. One of his most popular videos ever is a take on the viral "Power Of Makeup" trend, which involves doing makeup on only half your face while the other half is left entirely bare.

The craze began with NikkieTutorials, who filmed the first iteration, and it quickly took off from there. "I was like, I’m a guy, let me put my angle and do a little bit of voice for the men out there that want to express themselves with the medium of makeup," Simondac says. "[Men] can do it too, and I think posting that video I was so nervous, because I had not shaved for two weeks because I was so busy working. I was thinking, I have this beard, I think it’s time to film this."

Simondac's resulting video serves as an important reminder that anyone can enjoy makeup, a fact that the beauty industry is starting to grasp. The year 2016 was huge for men who love makeup, from 17-year-old James Charles landing a deal with CoverGirl to MannyMUA collaborating on a palette with MakeupGeek. Simondac himself curated a range of nail polishes with Formula X earlier this year, and it was a huge moment not only for his career, but for all men in the beauty space. "I think I was the first boy in Sephora — it was huge. It wasn’t for makeup, it was for nails. I had worn nails for not even a year, and I got that offer, like we want you to be our first boy in Sephora. I was like, that is insane." Bustle has reached out to Sephora to confirm that Simondac was indeed the first male spokesperson connected to a brand sold in their stores.

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Makeup is frequently viewed as another way to oppress women and convince them to buy products they don't need in order to fit some imaginary idea of what it means to be "beautiful." While it certainly can be about both of those things, the YouTube community is helping to reaffirm the idea that makeup can be fun and fulfilling for people of all gender identities.

Simondac's own background demonstrates some of the great strides the industry has made in the past few years. Once, while working as a freelance artist in a MAC Cosmetics store, he claims that he was asked to remove his makeup, saying,

I was asked to take off my makeup at MAC, on my first week. They said it wasn’t appropriate for work. It was inspired by Jeffree Star [...] they were like, pick a celebrity for your makeup look. Who would I exemplify in makeup? [...] So, I came in as a Jeffree Star look — pink brows, blue eyes, pink lips. I came in and they were like, you need to wipe that off. I was devastated because it was my sixth day. I was brand new, I was the new kid, I felt really dumb. I almost broke down in tears, but I was too busy wiping off my makeup. It was so embarrassing, and I wanted to prove to them that I could be a good artist using this makeup.

Bustle has reached out to MAC for comment about the dress code for MAC employees, and whether or not this policy has changed since Simondac's time there. Despite his early experience, Simondac has a positive relationship with the brand, citing the MAC store he worked in as "the only place where I could wear makeup, like [...] the only place for me to be self-expressive," before he started his YouTube channel. He also cites MAC as a label he would love to collaborate with in the future. "[It would] be like really cool to work with them one day, to be full circle for me," he says.

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In the past few years since Simondac joined YouTube, a lot has changed. Jeffree Star has amassed over three million subscribers on his beauty-focused YouTube channel and founded his own hugely popular cosmetics line. The concept of "Instagram makeup," a look often defined by Kim Kardashian-level contour, bold highlight, and carved eyebrows, officially went mainstream, thanks to the social media stars who embody the look. And the makeup industry has begun to fully embrace YouTubers and other Internet-based beauty enthusiasts, regularly collaborating with them on product launches and big advertising campaigns. YouTube makeup gurus are being taken seriously, which is incredible news considering the diversity many of them promote — with such wide audiences at their disposal, people like Simondac have the power to help change strongly-held conventions like the ones that imply men can't wear makeup.

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Given his own unconventional path to social media stardom, it should come as no surprise that Simondac's biggest beauty icon, Tyra Banks, is also a trailblazer in the industry. "I feel like I want to parallel my YouTube career similar to hers, being a minority, a gay, plus-size male in the beauty industry wearing makeup, as a beauty guru/YouTuber, diversifying my platform like she did with America’s Next Top Model." With his Formula X collaboration, his growing YouTube following, and photo campaigns with the likes of Benefit Cosmetics, he's already well on his way to achieving his Tyra-level goals.