Meet CoverGirl’s first ‘Cover Boy’: Teen Makeup Artist Breaks Beauty Barriers & Gender Stereotypes

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James Charles Gender Stereotypes
Image via James Charles Twitter

When one closes their eyes and thinks of every time a CoverGirl commercial comes on, you envision the daring red lip on Drew Barrymore, the blushed pink cheeks of Rihanna, or as of recent, the bold yellow and blue shadows on the fearless Katy Perry. All of these ‘Makeup Models’ have been celebrities and of course, all females. The majority of them represent the standard definition of beauty: High Cheek Bones, Full Lips, Wide Eyes, Slender Frame, and the list goes on and on. The question is – what about the viewer? What if the viewer does not represent all of those features but are purchasing CoverGirl products? Who represents them?

On October 10th, 2016, CoverGirl announced the new face of their beauty campaign and his names is James Charles, a YouTube sensation from Upstate New York. Yep, you read that correctly. A young man is representing CoverGirl and he is a non-celebrity at that. He is your typical 17 year old high school senior from Bethlehem, N.Y., who lives with his parents and a younger brother and does make-up for friends in his spare time (at no charge) and of course is obsessed with social media. So obsessed that he has nearly 650,000 followers on his Instagram account and more than 90,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel. He is best known for creating fake freckles or layering chunky glitter around the eyes and most importantly, his fabulous highlight and contouring videos.

He gained attention last month when he posted to social media about retaking his senior photos because he didn’t like how the highlighter on his cheekbones looked in the originals. The post spread on Twitter which sparked a comment and repost from the singer Zendaya, who wrote, “You win.” From that moment on, James became a media sensation.

The selection of Mr. James by CoverGirl is a big deal because it changes the traditional gender boundaries in fashion and beauty, and shows that the ‘everyday’ person can in fact represent such an iconic company like CoverGirl. James is thrilled that he is the first boy to represent a makeup company. For him, ‘It shows that this industry is actually becoming genderless, and we’re really making the push toward equal opportunities for everybody, regardless of race, sexuality, gender’. He also believes that, ‘men in makeup is becoming more widely accepted but it’s going to take so much more open-mindedness to have it be a common thing. Yet, the place we’re in is phenomenal compared to where we were a few years ago. We’ve made so many amazing progressions with gay rights, gender inclusivity and self-expression’.

New Directions for Women supports CoverGirl’s decision to change up their image. It is inspiring to see other companies and organizations take a stand to acknowledge that gender does not define beauty. The standards and stereotypes for beauty are changing. One of our core values at New Directions for Women is Diversity. We recognize the importance of individuality within our addiction treatment programs. We encourage our team to acknowledge and openly celebrate our unique stories of our women, as we believe that our differences help the community understand the stages of their recovery.

To read more about CoverGirl’s new campaign, visit https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/16/fashion/meet-covergirls-new-cover-boy.html

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