James Charles, a 17-year-old makeup artist extraordinaire, recently became the first male face of CoverGirl. Charles, who frequently posts Instagram photos and YouTube tutorials of brilliant makeup looks, now joins the ranks of stars such as Katy Perry, Zendaya and Sofia Vergara. This marks a revolutionary change in the perception of makeup in relation to gender.
Since CoverGirl’s creation over 50 years ago, every face of the company has been female, thus adding emphasis to the girl-centered brand name. Charles is the first to break this half-century long streak and is one of the first men to ever represent a makeup brand, especially one that is so closely tied with femininity. Historically, social standards have made it so that men cannot wear makeup. Actors and models could wear it to improve their appearance on film or in photos, but the public perceived males wearing noticeable amounts of makeup in public as out-of-the-ordinary, in a negative way. Makeup brands’ constant use of female models as the faces of their brand upheld these stereotypical gender norms and the idea that men cannot express “feminine” characteristics.
Everything is changing now, however, with the growth of male beauty “vloggers,” such as Manny MUA, Patrick Starrr and James Charles. These men are not only redefining who can wear makeup but are also part of a new era of makeup confidence. No longer will bright eye shadow and lipstick be thought of as something that women and only women must wear. These path-forging men show that yes, guys can wear red lipstick, and yes, they can rock it. Charles is among the many men who dare to explore characteristics out of the typical male comfort zone.
The past few years allowed Charles to impressively expand his portfolio with stunning looks of all different types. Not only does he pull off winged eyeliner, bold brows, stunning highlight and fake freckles perfectly, but he also has an amazing talent for creative, abstract and downright intense makeup looks. His watercolor eye shadow and lipstick, glow-in-the-dark highlight and galaxy-themed face makeup are enough inspiration to make viewers fall into a YouTube hole of his videos. The tutorials and sample makeup looks posted on his Instagram offer inspiration for any day – Halloween, costume party, date night or the everyday. His bold style radiates confidence not only on the basis that he is a man completely pulling off makeup, but also the fact that he is simply an incredibly gifted artist.
Charles and others are changing the game with their experimentation. Men who want to explore makeup are now more able, and the definition on makeup’s role in a woman’s life can change as well. Because makeup has been pushed as a feminine interest throughout most of history, society deems it something that is necessary for girls. This is another cause of gender stereotypes and norms being pushed on those who do not necessarily want to follow them. Fortunately, these male makeup role models are breaking the stereotype in a way that, through social media, anyone who wants to can follow.
Besides breaking boxed-in gender roles, their worldwide impact can also be seen on a small-scale. The success of these men show any single person that they can and should explore the boundaries of gender roles. It is important to feel comfortable and happy with how you express yourself. Take a page out of James Charles’ book, and fight against the boundaries that society has created (or simply find a new inspiration for wild and beautiful makeup).