Instagram Trend Is Challenging Gender Norms

August 19th 2016

Laura Donovan

Nail polish looks cool and is a great way to creatively express your personality, and a recent Instragram trend is reiterating that it's not just for women anymore.


A photo posted by Esben (@esben_o) on

As Mic writer Rachel Lubitz noted in a recent story, more men are sharing photos of themselves wearing nail polish on Instagram using the hashtag #malepolish.

The trend gained substantial momentum several months ago after designer Marc Jacobs shared photos of his painted nails on the platform as part of an ongoing manicure series:


A photo posted by Marc Jacobs (@themarcjacobs) on

Others have followed Jacobs' lead:


A photo posted by Mark Fromm (@frommmark) on


A photo posted by @male_polish_1403 on

While the trend is a step forward in fighting gender norms, it isn't exactly new.

The hashtag #malepolish is included in more than 1,100 posts on Instagram as of writing this article, but to reference Mic once more, it's important to keep in mind that men have been wearing nail polish for thousands of years. Even though nail salons and nail care are often catered to women in our culture, tomb excavations have revealed that men in Southern Babylonia wore nail polish in 3,200 B.C, according to Nails Magazine:

"A warrior of Babylon or Homo about to go to war often spent several hours having his hair lacquered and curled, his nails manicured and colored, and his lips tinted to match. Excavations of the royal tombs at Ur of the Chaldees in Southern Babylonia unearthed an engraved, solid gold manicure set. It and the nail coloring — kohl —were well preserved. Experts claim it was used in 3200 B.C. The kohl is green and black. The use of color indicated status — black for the important, green for people of the lower classes. This status symbol prevailed for many years."

Famous men such as Academy Award winning actor Jared Leto and the late musician David Bowie have also sported male nail polish:


A photo posted by Nicole✨ (@nicfromearth) on

Bowie nails

Males still get shamed for wanting to wear nail polish, though.

Earlier this summer, a mother named Devon Berryann went viral after sharing a post about her 6-year-old son facing bullying for wearing a tutu and nail polish:

"A couple days ago he came home and told me again about kids teasing him at school for his nail polish, and for the first time ever I considered talking him into taking it off," Berryann wrote. "Into hiding that part of himself. Because for the first time ever I was scared that he would be gunned down one night when he was out having a good time with his friends. In that moment I was so terrified that I wondered if it would be better to stop appeasing him. Then I remembered all the reasons I let him be who he wants. Because it makes him happy."

Her solution, she wrote, was to buy more nail polish rather than rob him of this form of self-expression:

"As scared as I am, I know that this world is not going to change with more fear. It has plenty of that. What it needs is more love and acceptance. So yesterday, we went out and bought more nail polish, and today we wore tutus. So here he is world. See my boy for the amazing person he is. Show him love. Show him acceptance. Help us change the world into one that deserves him."

[H/T Mic]