How Beauty Became My Form Of Self Expression, by Saleam Singleton

saleam singleton the method male

 Saleam Singleton

Meet Byrdie Boy and The Method Male creator Saleam T. Singleton. Ahead, he shares his personal self-care journey and how discovering skincare and beauty helped him find self-expression and confidence.

I remember my first trip to the dermatologist, I convinced my grandmother it was imperative I see one. I was beginning to experience skin issues, and like most teenagers, it felt like the end of the world. Until then, my biggest concerns were surviving a high school that I hated and neighborhood bullies. Somehow, none of that felt as impactful as the hit to my self-esteem that went along with frequent breakouts and hyperpigmentation. This was the start of years of self-consciousness—my critical self-image was on full blast. I spent any money I had trying every product I could. I got all my cues from magazines, like Seventeen, which I regularly borrowed from the local library. It was through those issues that I was introduced to the world of skincare and beauty. Although the mags were mostly geared towards girls, I was somehow able to see myself within that aspirational space. 

There was very little skincare directed towards men. That made no difference to me, I projected myself onto the Noxema and Clearasil ads. It became a regular occurrence for me to give myself facials and at-home steam treatments. I had no shame wearing face masks around friends and family as I prepared for big events and weekend outings. Perhaps I was a bit extra. One thing was for sure—I had discovered self-care, and it made me happy. It was the single act that I felt I had control over and it became my defining characteristic. It wasn't until college that it started to make sense. A classmate complimented me by saying I had a "fresh face.” That was the first time I felt seen, and I felt handsome. It meant more than anything merely superficial; it helped me to build my self-confidence at that time.

Years later, I moved to New York. Social media had already taken over the world, beauty videos were everywhere, and once again there was very little representation for men. What few there were represented extremes that I couldn’t identify with. I saw a space between those extremes and felt as if I was meant to fill it. I started posting tutorials to YouTube, and later, Instagram. From the beginning, I was embraced and given encouraging feedback. It turned out, I wasn't the only guy out there who felt underrepresented. I found a community that welcomed and supported me. That's how The Method Male was born. I developed my voice in the beauty conversation, something that is rare but needed among men of color. I've connected with other men who, like me, sought to explore their sense of identity through beauty. 

In 2019, men's grooming was worth over 63 billion U.S. dollars, according to Statista. In 2020, it's expected to grow to more than 66 billion. This may not include the countless makeup companies that are now catering to men, many of them created specifically for men. Even brands like Fenty are producing Youtube videos dedicated to men's makeup techniques. Companies are beginning to see the value of male consumers—they're realizing that it's more than a trend. Ultimately, it's not about statistics or demographics. It's about men finally realizing that they have a say in the way they express themselves and how they perform self-care. 

To me, self-care is a radical act—something men have been told isn't for them.

I see skincare and beauty as much more than products and tutorial videos. To me, self-care is a radical act, something men have been told isn't for them. A lot of men are just being introduced to the benefits of taking care of their bodies, and most importantly, their minds. These days, more men are prioritizing their mental health and wellness. When men invest time in maintaining themselves, it eventually becomes a reflection of their inner value—it's empowering. That's why men need to claim space in the beauty industry, and why I claimed my own space. I've always felt welcomed, and I want other men to feel the same way. The Method Male is about creating a lifestyle for the man in progress, a lifestyle that requires men to examine their insecurities, but it also allows them to embrace the things they love about themselves. Beauty shouldn't be tied to gender, or sexuality—it's something everyone has a right to, and it's more than skin deep. 

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