Easy, Breezy, Beautiful, CoverBoy
His enviable eyebrows are perfect enough to give queen Cara Delevingne’s arches a run for their money, and his killer highlighting skills probably evoke jealousy in seasoned beauty veterans. Make-up artist James Charles embodies what a beauty icon should be, and at just 17 years old, he has accomplished a milestone that countless have dreamed of, but only few have achieved. As the newest face of famed cosmetics brand CoverGirl, following in the footsteps of mega-icons like Queen Latifah, Drew Barrymore and Katy Perry, the self-taught make up prodigy is using his talent and passion to prove beauty has no boundaries.
Most known for his glamorous makeup looks and tutorials, Charles’ humble beginnings started on Instagram, which he used to showcase special event makeup and build his clientele. Following the success of his Instagram account (@jcharlesbeauty), which now has over 580,000 followers, Charles launched his YouTube channel, where he uploads tutorials that demonstrate the process it takes to achieve his glam looks.
Now, Charles is readily transitioning from web pages to magazine pages as the first-ever male ambassador of CoverGirl. Pop queen and fellow CoverGirl Katy Perry took to Instagram to formally announce Charles’ CoverBoy status, while Charles himself posted a heartfelt declaration of the milestone on his own account. He captioned his first ad campaign, saying, “I am so honored and excited to be working with such an iconic brand. I started my Instagram one year ago to inspire others and as an artistic outlet to challenge myself creatively. I truly hope that this shows that anyone and everyone can wear makeup and can do anything if you work hard.”
Charles’ campaign has the potential to do more than just inspire others. It’s proof of a shift in attitudes on gender that are redefining preexisting social constructs. CoverGirl’s brand influence and accessibility allows Charles’ message to reach an extremely vast audience that other brands can’t capture. Unlike higher-end, less affordable cosmetics, CoverGirl is stocked on the shelves of almost every drugstore and supermarket beauty section, nationwide. Your mom and your grandma use CoverGirl. Your middle school makeup bag was probably stocked with Covergirl foundation. The decision to choose Charles as the spokesperson for an accessible brand will spread the message of gender nonconformity to all kinds of audiences that may not have been previously exposed to these gender-bending ideas.
While androgyny and notions of gender fluidity have been widely accepted in high fashion for some time now, there’s an evident absence of these ideas represented in brands that are accessible to not only the upper-class and highly educated. James Charles’ CoverGirl campaign could potentially ignite a trend in which budget-friendly brands similar to CoverGirl adopt and incorporate social awareness in their marketing strategies. It’s interesting to think of a future where Forever 21 could use male models to showcase female clothing (or vice versa). With the emergence of more and more brands using their ad campaigns to reflect the change in attitudes with the changing times, it looks like this possibility could soon become a reality.