Why Can’t A Boy Wear Lipstick Or Varun Grover Sport Nail Colour?

Posted: July 17, 2018

Just as we fight for women’s right to make their own choices, we must also support men and people of all genders in their quest for their own identity. Varun Grover sets an inspiring example.

I was watching an interview on YouTube recently, which starred Varun Grover (stand-up comedian, Lyricist and Screenplay Writer in the Hindi film industry) and Abhishek Bachchan (Hindi film actor). Nothing spectacular about the interview – it was a light watch, though if you are an Abhishek Bachchan fan, you will come to know about the vegetable he hates the most.

But getting to the point, I scrolled down to see some of the comments, and this one caught my eye – ‘Why does Varun grover has nail paint.? Wtf’

The comment was very similar to many that you would find under a YouTube video: 1. It was grammatically wrong. 2. A personal attack was made on one of the participants in the video. The former is annoying but harmless, but the latter is quite worrisome. And in this case, the question got me wired up. Yes, Varun Grover had painted his nails. “Problem kya hai?”

What was amazing was that my sentiments were quoted by someone on YouTube as a reply to the question. All the other replies were in support of Varun’s choice. There were a series of ‘Why not’s’. The troll was shushed. But, what none of them knew and maybe you don’t either is that Varun painted his nails as a step of solidarity for a young boy.

In a series of tweets beginning with the above, last month, a certain Diksha Bijlani, tweeted this heart-warming story about how cousins stood up for a young boy (hereafter referred to as Little Cuz) who was abused for choosing to wear red lipstick by his family members. The poor ‘effeminate’ boy had to hide behind the curtain and the bed to shielding his coloured lips from…wait for it – his mom! His mom was embarrassed that her son was wearing lipstick. Fortunately, three of his cousins (one of whom was male) coloured their lips deeming the act gender neutral. Kudos especially to the elder brother who in Diksha’s words ‘gave up any toxic masculinity’ and complied to influence Little Cuz’.

Diksha highlights the importance of letting young children have the freedom to find their place in the ‘gender spectrum’. The impact of their small act? ‘Little Cuz came out & smiled comfortable in his skin.’ And here’s the kicker! The next day when an uncle ridiculed Little Cuz by calling him a girl for riding a pink coloured bicycle that belonged to his sister, he responded by saying –‘Gender real nai hota. Kal maine aur bhaiya ne done ne red lipstick lagaya tha Didi ke saath. Aap puchlo.’ (Gender is not real. Yesterday, both my brother and I wore red lipstick along with my sister.) I got goosebumps when I read Lil Cuz’s confident response.

The above thread went viral. Several members from the Twitterati, ReTweeted, shared and commented.  Enter our ‘real hero’ Varun Grover. He put out the below tweet.

I am pretty sure, no other film ‘celebrity’ would have had the uhmmm ‘courage’ to do what Varun did. Here’s the thing though – even if Varun didn’t do it to show his solidarity, even if he was wearing the nail colour prior to the incident – it is ok. He, just like Lil Cuz, has the right to choose his position in the gender spectrum and of course choose whether or not, and what colour to paint his nails.

As women, we are often subjected to ridicule for our choices – too short, too long, too bright, too dull, too simple, the list goes on. It’s not fair. But it’s worse when we align with the society because we are tired of fighting our own battles. If our sons, brothers or friends want to take up Home Science, we must stand by them in support! We should not ridicule them for being ‘effeminate’.

If we as Feminists are opposing gender stereotypes because we deserve the same rights and opportunities as men, well so do they. Hetero-normativity, or the idea that there are only two distinct genders – male and female, is an archaic one. It’s time to challenge it.

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2 Comments


  1. Great article Ashwini. While we are finally accepting women choosing traditionally male attire, we are far from accepting that it should work the other way too. Absolutely no reason males should be ridiculed for traditionally feminine choices in attire and accessories.

  2. 🙂 Thanks Kanika!! 🙂

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