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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Being Reuben is a reality TV series about Reuben de Maid, the 14-year-old Welsh boy who has become one of the youngest and most popular male makeup artists on social media. Though male makeup users are becoming more common, de Maid's nontraditional gender presentation (he wears makeup along with male clothing and a short hairstyle) is somewhat controversial, both in his real life (where he's been bullied at school) as well as online (where commenters make slurs about de Maid's appearance and sexuality). De Maid is candid about his experiences, and how they've made him feel, and exhibits significant courage and integrity by continuing to dress and style himself in ways that he prefers and present himself honestly on social media. His family members are touchingly supportive, particularly his kind-hearted mother, Vicky, and thoughtful and playful grandfather, Bampa, who has extremely positive things to say about his grandson and why he's proud of him. Violence is infrequent, confined to descriptions of verbal bullying and mild scuffles between de Maid and his younger siblings. A few participants talk briefly about boyfriends and girlfriends.
What's the story?
BEING REUBEN is a docuseries starring Reuben de Maid, the teenage male makeup artist who's taken social media by storm with his tutorials and other videos. From his home in Wales, de Maid makes videos, spends time online, and hangs around with his family, including his mother, his two younger siblings, and his beloved grandfather.
Is it any good?
Reuben de Maid is a one-person charm offensive in this breezy and fun reality series that documents the life of one of social media's foremost male makeup influencers. Though the idea of a male person routinely wearing makeup is something of a new one, and de Maid is certainly something of a hero to many for subverting traditional gender roles, Being Reuben reveals that much of his life is actually rather typical. He eats breakfast with his mom; he alternately horses around and argues with his siblings; he poses for selfies and spends endless hours scrolling through his social media feed. If he didn't boast a crisp Welsh accent, he could easily pass for your average American teen, albeit one with a more gender-neutral presentation than many teen boys.
Being Reuben also follows Reuben around on some of the outings that befit a burgeoning influencer's career: jetting off to global locales for video and photo shoots, fielding offers from makeup companies, reading the comments on his videos, and the like. It's interesting stuff, particularly for anyone who wonders just what the job of "influencer" actually involves. But the heart of Being Reuben is at home with Reuben's family members, particularly his sometimes salty but also delightfully sweet and open-minded grandfather, Bampa, who's bewildered by the new world his grandchildren exist in but willing to accept whatever they're into in the name of love. It took him some time to get used to seeing his grandson with a made-up face, says Bampa, but "I see him in makeup now, and it's Reuben. Without it, he wouldn't be Reuben." And the world could use more Reubens, and more Bampas, too, when it gets right down to it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it means to be visible and valued in a community. How does Being Reuben explain the relationship between being visible and feeling self-empowered? Is this something that only impacts people who have a nontraditional gender presentation?
Traditional gender expectations change over time and also differ from culture to culture. Is Reuben de Maid part of this change? How? Could he have had a career as a male makeup artist who also wears makeup at another time in history? Why or why not? In what situations do Western men typically wear makeup? How is de Maid's embrace of cosmetics different and why might it be controversial?
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