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”.