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Beauty Redefining masculinity: in conversation with beauty influencer Enioluwa

Mar. 23, 2021
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To understand who Enioluwa is, you have to know his journey of becoming the Beauty Boy. The year was 2015—the first time he ever tried makeup.

"I discovered that I wanted to venture into beauty-related content much later, and I'm not sure I would have done anything else really well,” he tells me during our one-hour conversation over Zoom. 2020 was the year he finally shared his first-ever makeup tutorial video on Instagram, which has accumulated over 1,000 views, and ever since then, he’s been on a roll.                                                                                                                                                           

In a traditional country like Nigeria, makeup has only ever thrived in women's spaces. Like most African countries, in Nigeria men are nurtured, trained, and groomed to possess certain attributes including physical strength and emotional apathy. When one doesn’t conform to these expectations, they’re automatically deemed less manly—but Enioluwa believes masculinity shouldn’t be so rigidly defined.

"I am always puzzled about what certain individuals choose to talk about when it comes to masculinity because I am not conformed to any box. I am just myself," he shares. 

The 21-year-old influencer and artist is grateful for many things. "I’m excited for the opportunity to live [as] who I truly want to be. I know a lot of people don’t have the kind of opportunity I do. I’m also grateful for the fact that I’m a [trendsetter] in Nigeria and can inspire other men to do whatever they want."

As an influencer, Enioluwa’s social media is where the real magic resides. On Instagram, he has over 100,000 followers; he’s garnering tens of thousands of views on YouTube; on TikTok, he’s received over 250,000 likes. 

On all of these platforms, Enioluwa offers up aesthetically pleasing content about beauty, makeup, skincare, and the day-to-day life of young people. All the while, the 21-year-old is juggling postgraduate school on top of being an influencer. Balancing school and social media might be tedious, but Enioluwa wouldn’t have it any other way. "When you get to a point where your work is something you enjoy, it becomes fun. I love shooting. I love being in front of a camera.”

Considering how conservative Nigeria is, people still raise eyebrows at Enioluwa’s non-traditional path; he’s aware of the criticism and backlash he receives from some people in his community. But he’s learned to ignore the negative comments. "I’ve learned that no matter what you do, there are always going to be negative comments. But am I going to let the negativity get to me? Definitely not.” 

I closed off the interview by asking what it feels like to be a Gen-Zer in Nigeria’s current sociopolitical climate, and he mused, “I’m very excited. There’s a new hope that I and other Gen Zers can actually stand for whatever we want. We saw the outcome of the END SARS  movement, which was a call for an end to police brutality in Nigeria, and I also think it's something common all around the world. In a country like Nigeria, you’re constantly [anxious about] the current state of the country. You have questions—is it ever going to get better? Are you ever going to get to where you want? Because the country operates under a very rigid system that stands against young people. But I believe in what we’re doing. I believe in how we’re speaking out against what we don’t want.”

While the Nigerian beauty industry isn’t inclusive in terms of embracing men just yet, people like Enioluwa are pioneering and redefining what inclusion means. It’s exhilarating to imagine how things can change—and the “Beauty Boy” is a big part of it.                                                                                                                               

Photo by Rachel Seidu for Dazed Digital.