How 'Fall Out Boy' Singer Pete Wentz Put 'Guyliner' Into The Mainstream Lexicon
The year is 2007, and I'm getting ready to go out with my gothy, blue-haired boyfriend. I had just straightened my hair, and I'm touching up my makeup, and I ask him if he has any eyeliner... and he always does. I tell this story not to give my ex credit for anything (except my complexes upon complexes) but rather to illustrate that Fall Out Boy frontman Pete Wentz did NOT invent guyliner, it was already long established. But with the 10 year anniversary of From Under the Cork Tree coming up, it seems fair to examine how exactly he brought it into the mainstream.
The grossly uninformed (read: those too young to remember mid-2000's emo) may ask, "What is Guyliner, exactly?" Well, my sweet doves, guyliner is simply eyeliner worn by menfolk. So it's eyeliner.
Although it isn't as commonly worn by the average everyday male today, it does have an interesting history that long predates the Fall Out Boy frontman. And those crazy years after he gave the trend its Christian name? Unforgettable.
But in case you DID forget, grab my hand, because we're goin' down tuuu in a luleelurah to revisit the glorious golden years of guyliner.
Pre-Wentz Early Adopters
You really have to give props to the Ancient Egyptians. During the reign of Ramses III, upper class Egyptian men would rock kohl liner to protect their eyes from the harsh desert sun. They were less about smudging and more about precisely extending it past their eyes, but it was a different time... try 3000 years before a guitarist in ball-crushing skinny jeans burst into the world.
Though make-up wasn't foreign to the stage, and movie stars like Rudolph Valentino brought it to the silver screen in the 1920s, it was really rock stars of who ushered in next next, starting as early as the '70s. OG shock rocker Alice Cooper kept his eyeliner pointed ghoulishly downward, while The Cure's Robert Smith did a triple whammy, pairing his smudgy liner with black bird's nest hair and red lipstick. In the '80s hair metal bands used make-up as side note to the atrocious Aqua Net mullets, or an accessory to the more androgynous musicians of the decade (Boy George, much?).
Make-up didn't bode as well for '90s grunge, but even the likes of Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong (who still wears it today) and Kurt Cobain (who does not wear it, because he's dead) were eyeliner friendly. In short, a concise list of early adopters can be seen in the diagram below.
It is a Venn diagram.
Finally in 2003 the eyeliner returned to the screen in a big, big way, with Johnny Depp rocking it as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean. It's here that we see a turning point.
The Pete Wentz Years
Fall Out Boy was a thing way back in 2002, but it feels as though the guyliner came out to play around 2005 with the release of From Under the Cork Tree. Wentz was in the company of The Killer's Brandon Flowers and My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way, nothing special. Then it all changed.
On May 1st, 2007, People released a video of Wentz putting on his patented eye make-up with the buzzword blazoned loud and proud: guyliner. Prior to this video, the terminology is seldom used (if used at all, I explored every nook and cranny of the internet). And from then on, the world was never the same.
Suddenly "guyliner" was a new fashion craze that all the cool blogs were writing about. Backlash to the trend was swift: Pedro Yanowitz of Morningwood wore a "No Guyliner" shirt on Human Giant's 24 Hour Marathon. Some fashion experts were sassier, critiquing the trend as "undermining masculinity." And naturally there were plenty of jocks around to offer less-than-eloquent and often homophobic commentary. But it grew stronger still, with official guyliner, hit drug stores as early as 2008, (along with "manscara.")
At long last, someone asked Taylor Swift for her opinion, and she gave the trend her blessing. “I think guys who wear 'guyliner'—emo guys—and pull it off are hot!" She told People, as the chorus of a thousand Hawthorne Heights-obsessed angels singing in exaltation.
But late 2008, Wentz broke bleeding hearts across the nation in an Elle Magazine interview. When asked what are the most common mistakes associated with it, he responded, "Wearing it to the point where people only recognize you as "that guy who wears eyeliner. I don't really wear it anymore because of that."
Post-Wentz Devolution, Cultural Significance and Modern Manscaping
Guyliner took off because it came at the apex of metrosexuality, that is, just around the same time as Queer Eye For The Straight Guy; no longer did hetrosexual men have to look like garbage. Likewise, alternative teen culture was really concentrated, with mallgoths, emos, and (shudder) scene kids sharing equal grounds on Myspace.
Somewhere around 2010, alt teens discovered online, customizable-to-your interest shops like Etsy, and occasionally returned to the thrift stores to create what is essentially DIY "hipster" culture. From there, we get bastardized mishmashes of subcultures like "pastel goth" and "soft grunge," but the point is this: once teens stopped relying on Hot Topic, the ink dried up.
Still, we have to give credit to guyliner for its influence on continued male gender-bending. Wentz once said he wore guyliner to test boundaries, sort of pushing rigid concepts of sexuality. Without that breakthrough, it's doubtful that men would feel confident enough to break out the hot man buns we lust over today... or that we'd still have some proud, sexy gentlemen boasting black lids today (see venn diagram).
The smudged eyes of Captain Jack Sparrow live on in Once Upon a Time's Captain Hook. Zac Efron has allegedly donned it with zero camp, just to highlight his flawless blue eyes. And in 2014, Jared Leto's guyliner won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, truly breaking grounds for the male make-up movement.
As for Wentz? It looks like he learned how to quit guyliner for good, trading it in for hot pink hair and leather tuxedos. Thanks for the memories, though.
Images: Mary Grace Garis (3), Giphy (4)