Seventeen’s latest single “Thanks” and its accompanying Director’s Cut EP have both proven to be hits on the charts — respectively hitting No. 4 on the World Digital Song Sales chart and No. 2 on both the World and Heatseekers Albums charts — but there’s something particularly special about the band’s latest music video that also deserves attention.
The accompanying visual to “Thanks” — which is nearing nine million views a week after its release — portrays the group in intimate, seemingly everyday scenarios as the 13 members write and sing in a recording studio, practice choreography in a dance area, and ride in a school bus together. It’s all very realistic — particularly for a band that’s known for writing, composing and choreographing all on their own — which makes the scene that begins around the 1:50 mark even more noteworthy.
After vocalist DK introduces viewers to a backstage dressing room, the full group is seen is seen sitting and laughing with one another surrounded by loads of makeup and cosmetic products (blushes, hair rollers, eye curlers and tons of makeup brushes) as the guys get touch-ups (Seungkwan gets powder on his cheeks while Jun appears to be preparing to apply some type of concealer).
While it’s no secret that celebrities of any gender wear makeup out in public, male stars openly talking about or applying makeup is still very rare — it’s usually an assistant giving a touch-up or splash of power with the man rarely an active participant. With the narrative of the music video focusing so much on the band’s day-to-day schedule, Seventeen is not just being open about their use of makeup but normalizing it as an everyday activity. Plus, with the video obviously styled to show Seventeen in a very desirable spotlight — this isn’t just one of K-pop’s most popular acts but one of the world’s most active artists on social media, mind you — spotlighting their beauty routine is likely being used as a way to further pull in fans and viewers, not turn them off.
While there’s been progress, men’s makeup and cosmetic use have yet to gain widespread acceptance — in both the heterosexual and gay community — despite makeup documented as far back as being used by ancient Egyptian men and women to enhance appearances with what we know today as eyeliner and eyeshadow. While fashion-forward brands like Milk Makeup and Anastasia Beverly Hills have invested in gender-neutral makeup campaigns, any instances of mainstream male-makeup uses have typically not fronted by people of color like when CoverGirl chose Internet personality/makeup artist James Charles as their first male spokesperson in a major move.
Furthermore, the men in makeup campaigns typically promote more showy or fashion-focused looks (see Patrick Starr’s MAC collab or Maybelline recruiting Manny Gutierrez) that don’t connect with men who may want to use makeup the way many women do every day for a general visual lift or to cover up a blemish. The Seventeen boys aren’t deeming themselves “Cover Girls” to stand alongside Katy Perry and Sofia Vergara, like Charles did in a 2016 campaign.
Seventeen is a boy band made up of members from Korea, China and the United States for a mixed (and undeniably handsome) group of men from different countries and backgrounds all leaning into their embracing of cosmetics for everyday use. Just like how the guys drink milkshakes at a diner, snack on chips in the studio, and blankly stare at their phones like the rest of us, the guys also wear makeup — it’s as simple as that and that makes it all the more powerful of a move.