The New York State Communication Association (NYSCA) featured Montclair State University students Stacey Grabiec and Jose Moraga on the Top Paper Panel for their 74th annual NYSCA conference. Grabiec and Moraga submitted their paper entitled “Male use of makeup: Explaining the fluidity of gender” to the NYSCA and were awarded chairs on the Top Paper Panel.
Grabiec, a communications major with a concentration in public relations and Moraga, who majors in communication and media studies, surveyed 100 Montclair State students and concluded that 80 percent of the respondents who took the survey had either positive or neutral feelings about men wearing makeup.
According to NYSCA’s website, students are invited to submit papers that are considered an intersection of imagination with all areas of the communication field.
“I turned around to my soon-to-be partner Jose and asked him if he was working with anyone,” said an excited Grabiec, whose passion is makeup. “As a result, we created our group and we started discussing what we liked, and we both brought up the subject of makeup and decided on the topic. We then eventually came up with the research question.”
“I had a decent understanding of queer theory and Stacey had a great background in understanding how popular culture works, so we just went from there,” said Moraga, who is currently working at MAC Cosmetics.
Grabiec explained that the paper attempts to discover the perception of males using makeup in today’s society.
According to Grabiec, there was not a lot of previously existent information about the study they chose and a lot of the research dealt with gender and shifting cultural ideas in society.
“We used Judith Butler as the foundation of our paper because she talks about gender void of binaries, but there was little research regarding men wearing makeup specifically,” Grabiec said.
Grabiec believes that makeup is not exclusively for women. “If men want to use makeup, that is quite all right with me,” she said. “There is nothing wrong with wanting to enhance your features or cover up a blemish if you feel as though it is necessary.”
Montclair State University professor from the school of communication and media, Paul Ziek, brought the NYSCA Conference to the attention of Grabiec, who later pitched the idea to her classmate, Moraga, at the end of the semester.
Both students were interested in participating in the Top Paper Panel, so it was up to them to continue their research to meet the NYSCA conference requirements.
“It was such a privilege to present our research at the 74th Annual NYSCA Conference. I hope to continue our research and gain more knowledge about this subject and the shifting ideals in our society,” said Grabiec.
Moraga, who graduated Montclair State prior to finding out that their paper was chosen for the Top Paper Panel, said that writing the paper helped ignite his passion for makeup. He explained that he loves makeup because it allows a person’s beauty to be enhanced and creativity to flow.
“Having our paper picked by NYSCA was an honor. In my eyes, the research that we did was crucial in playing a role for others to start a dialogue on the male use of makeup. It’s time everyone got over their hang-ups on gender,” Moraga said. “Gender is silly and constricting. If the look is right, it’s right, regardless of these things like gender and sex.”
“I think that the paper that Stacey and I wrote was picked because of how universal the topic is. It displays a larger societal shift that will hopefully lead to the liberation of the human spirit,” Moraga said. He wants it to be known that while the paper was about the male use of makeup, the issue is far larger than just makeup.
According to Moraga, the real issue is that there are antiquated restrictions on gender.
“There’s not a ton of research done on the subject, but it’s certainly an emerging topic in research both on a marketing and theoretical level,” he said. “When Stacey and I hit the books, it was easy to fall in love with the topic because of the unfamiliar nature of it.”