The Gender Make Up of Makeup

In 2016, CoverGirl released their newest face: a non-celebrity boy. James Charles is a 17-year who went viral for retaking his senior portraits solely based on the fact that his cheekbone highlight wasn’t bright enough. After amping up his highlighter and bringing his own ring light he earned himself over 98,000 likes on twitter. Now James has nearly 800,000 subscribers on youtube, and is challenging what it means to be a “covergirl”.

Being an avid follower of the internets beauty community, I am not unfamiliar to the way it pushes the boundaries of girlhood. “Girlhood” by Jacqueline Reid-Walsh, the definition of the word is brought into question. There are many different explanations as to where “girl” comes from, but there is a proposed link to appearance. Can “fashion” dictate who is and isn’t a girl? The elements that we associate with girlhood are not limited to those who identify as a girl. James and I both grew up with the same love for makeup, a form of physical expression that in the past might be used to define girlhood or gender, yet we don’t identify the same way.

These expectations of gender roles being challenged lead me to review Laura’s role in Little House in the Prairie. Laura embodies curiosity, braveness and the elements of a free-spirit. This is contradictory to the characteristics of girls in “Gender” by Erica Hateley. Hateley presents the following characteristics: movers, doers, explorers, adventures, creatures or action, guile, mischief, intellect and leadership”. At a glance these could very easily be used to describe Laure, but in the essay they are linked to the way boys are presented in literature.

If girls were solely taught to be girls and boys were taught to be boys then there isn’t much room for the creativity that James Charles and artists alike emulate. In the words of Katy Perry, “equal is beautiful”.

2 thoughts on “The Gender Make Up of Makeup”

  1. It has always been interesting to me that some view certain adjectives and descriptions as being strictly feminine or strictly masculine. I also found it ironic how in the keywords essay those terms were used to describe boys, but could easily be associated with Laura and other famous characters in literature. As for the first male CoverGirl, I have always loved when a big-name brand takes a stance on something controversial and uses it to lift people up. I love this campaign by CoverGirl and everything that it stands for!!

  2. This move by CoverGirl certainly changes the way people view makeup. Makeup is typically thought of one of the most feminine things as the vast majority of men don’t wear makeup and is often thought of one of the things that makes women beautiful. I find it especially interesting that CoverGirl was the first makeup company to have a male face for the company. The fact that the word “girl” is in the name of the company and that they are the first company to show men wearing makeup shows how makeup is no longer only for one gender. I wonder if in the future more makeup companies will follow CoverGirl’s move and promote more men in their ads.

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