Appearance Identity Masculinity My Story

‘I Wear Makeup and Dye my Hair but I Feel I am Masculine’ – Matty Bovan

Designer Matty Bovan talks makeup and masculinity


When I was younger I didn’t have a particular ‘style’ or ‘look’; it wasn’t until a bit later that I started experimenting with my appearance. I guess I had always admired subcultures, and I knew I wanted to physically manifest the spirit of my own individuality, but it’s hard to find the confidence to do that when you’re young.

Sadly, people do judge others by their appearance. Even now, if you are dressed slightly differently from the masses, some people will take it as an invitation to provide commentary – which it’s not. I always find it crazy when people say or shout things at me. The fact that the way I look can cause such offence, and provoke those kinds of reactions in absolute strangers baffles me.


Of course, people are entitled to have their own opinions, but I think a line has to be drawn when they are making the individual feel uncomfortable or, threatened. Personally, it really doesn’t bother me so I just ignore it – I don’t want to give it ammunition – but it tends to upset my friends and the people I am with. We should allow others to freely express themselves without judgement. I mean, surely there are bigger problems to worry about?

I think 2016 has seen perceptions of ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ questioned more than ever, especially by the younger generations. I just hope it’s not a passing fad. Because I wear makeup and dye my hair, people often assume I am going to be quite feminine, but I disagree. I feel I am masculine. I mean, it’s not something I tend to think too much about – I am just myself. Again, I always disregard what other people think of me. If someone wants to project their own ideas of ‘gender’ onto me, that is none of my business.


‘Femininity’ and ‘masculinity’ are gender constructs invented by society; the sooner you realise it’s basically one big hoax, the sooner you can start to enjoy being whatever/whoever you want to be. Hopefully, that is yourself.

If you are currently being bullied, I can only reassure you that things are going to get better. I think, growing up, I always knew that. I had inner hope that there was more out there for me. Assess the situation and make sure you have people there to support you when you need it most – whether that is a friend, teacher or parent – tell someone what you are going through.


It’s been ten years exactly since I left school, and I’ve been in talks about going back there to speak to students about my career in the fashion industry. I feel I kind of owe it to my younger self to go back there. Hopefully I can give some form of inspiration – even if it is just to one person! As a kid, I would have been really interested to hear from someone working in a creative industry, especially as school didn’t really pitch the arts as something you can really pursue in life.

Thanks to Ditch the Label for letting me share my story.

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