Popular Filipino-American beauty icon Patrick Starrr on the pain endured as a gay Asian man who wears makeup

Melanie Chalil
·5-min read
The popular internet makeup guru wants to inspire people to challenge the social contract that dictates gender norms. — Picture from Instagram/Patrick Starrr
The popular internet makeup guru wants to inspire people to challenge the social contract that dictates gender norms. — Picture from Instagram/Patrick Starrr

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 — The idea of men wearing makeup can raise more than a few eyebrows, particularly in cultures that strictly conform to traditional gender scripts.

It certainly was the case for Filipino-American beauty influencer and makeup artist Patrick Starrr whose parents weren’t keen on him wearing lipstick nor his style of clothing.

Long before the 31-year-old became a beauty icon with 4.4 million followers on Instagram and YouTube respectively, Starrr had to put on a brave face on top of the makeup he was wearing.

He channelled the painful experience of being shamed for wearing makeup in public into creating his makeup brand One/Size that was recently launched in Malaysia.

Being plus-sized, Starrr found clothes shopping difficult but makeup became an outlet of expression because it is a “one-size fits all” and he wanted his brand to represent everyone.

One/Size promotes kindness and was inspired by Starrr’s painful experience of being shamed for wearing makeup in public. — Pictures courtesy of Sephora, One/Size
One/Size promotes kindness and was inspired by Starrr’s painful experience of being shamed for wearing makeup in public. — Pictures courtesy of Sephora, One/Size

“When I started makeup, I never felt included and accepted, even in school, so when I found women, drag queens and beauty lovers like me, I wanted my brand to represent that.

“At One/Size we operate through kindness, we represent the unseen and the unheard and we promote love, not just for the community but we also promote self-love,” Starrr said.

Some highlights from the line include the Go Off Dissolving Mist (RM109), a water-free formula fine mist featuring jojoba and rosehip oil that will take off the heaviest of makeup or as Starrr puts it “including a drag queen’s”.

There’s also the super black smudge-proof Point Made Eyeliner (RM86), the Visionary Eyeshadow Palette (RM190) featuring shades like Mango and Manila Sands to pay homage to his family’s hometown and the Secure Blur Makeup Magnet Primer (RM136) to filter out the roughest of textures.

Got an issue with men who wear makeup?

Starrr’s Filipino parents weren’t keen on him wearing makeup and his style of clothing but are now able to see his success as an influencer and beauty brand owner. — Picture from Instagram/Patrick Starrr
Starrr’s Filipino parents weren’t keen on him wearing makeup and his style of clothing but are now able to see his success as an influencer and beauty brand owner. — Picture from Instagram/Patrick Starrr

During an interview session with Malaysian reporters recently, Malay Mail asked the influencer what he would say to someone who has an issue with men wearing makeup.

“I would take off my makeup in front of them using the Go Off makeup remover and I would tell them I am no different than what you wear, I am no different than what you eat, my pulse is the same as yours and we breathe the same air,” he said during his first appearance in Southeast Asia.

“I have done nothing to harm you — what is by me wearing this hurting you?”

Starrr revealed he had the exact conversation with his parents and told them their words were hurting him.

“I’d like to give them the chance to say we’ve all been given the opportunity on this earth to have a purpose, now you tell me if your purpose is to hurt someone like me?

The 31-year-old said it is normal to see a man in makeup now compared to a decade ago. — Picture from Instagram/Patrick Starrr
The 31-year-old said it is normal to see a man in makeup now compared to a decade ago. — Picture from Instagram/Patrick Starrr

“Because I didn’t come on here wearing makeup bearing arms to hurt you.

“And so I challenge everyone to look at those questions and look at the bigger picture in life because it’s not an insecurity of mine, it’s more an insecurity of that person,” he added.

A true believer in the positive power of social media, Starrr said we live in an age where platforms are available to own who we are.

“And so as the founder of this brand I hope I can inspire people to challenge the social contract and break it down and own who you are because you’re worth it.”

Change and acceptance take years

Having been a YouTuber for the past eight years, Los Angeles-based Starrr said it takes years for a community or culture to understand and accept something that is outside of the norm.

The launch of One/Size has also been a milestone for Asian inclusivity in an industry that has been crying out for diversity.

“Every time I see my Asian fans, they’re so proud to see someone that has made incredible seats for representation for our community more than ever in terms of inclusivity in a space that didn’t seem like it was for us, especially here in the US,” the eldest of three brothers said.

“So for me to break through that and have this notoriety as someone as an influencer and now as a brand that’s in Sephora in Asia, it really means a lot to me.

“I’m glad my parents are able to see the success because Asian parents, if you know, you know.”

The rise of gender-neutrality

As static gender codes start unravelling to make way for gender fluidity, the Financial Express reported earlier this month that androgynous, gender-neutral fashion could be the norm in a post-pandemic world as many continue to live in sweatshirts, pyjamas and joggers while working from home.

In 2019, CNBC reported that makeup for men was a growing industry and that the men’s personal care industry is projected to be valued at US$166 billion (RM671 billion) by 2022.

Some luxury brands have marked its entry into that space with Chanel launching its male cosmetics line Boy de Chanel in 2018 and Tom Ford back in 2013.

Starrr attributes this growing trend to the media, celebrity influence and sheer curiosity of the movement.

“I feel like I’ve been a part of this movement for the last decade but I have not been alone.

“I have peers in my space that have been a part of this cultural shift that you all may know and the traction too and the leverage has also come from celebrities embracing who we are – these celebrities who are cis-identifying people whether they’re male or female have embraced the community,” said Starrr.

Our popular culture too has embraced gender fluidity be it Disney films that feature LGBTQ characters or the popular reality series RuPaul’s Drag Race that younger generations have grown up with.

“And so it’s so normal to see a boy in makeup now whereas five or 10 years ago it was so disruptive and bad to wear but that’s not the case,” Starrr said.

One/Size is available at all Sephora Malaysia stores, sephora.my and the Malaysia mobile app.

Related Articles Google launches virtual makeup testing Selena Gomez is launching a beauty line in 2020 With lipsticks, Hermes branches into competitive cosmetics world