Makeup Can Not Change an Ugly Society:
Men Wear Makeup Too and That is Okay
The world of makeup is constantly changing and getting reactions from society whether it be the style or the person wearing it. Even if someone is not particularly interested in makeup, they still see it in everyday life. Society, over time, has built standards around the makeup industry. There is a certain look that is in style and a certain type of people are expected to wear it. People are either wearing a full face of makeup or going for more of the “natural” look, but either way they are judged by society for “wearing too much” or “wearing too little” but what about the person wearing it? When someone is talking about makeup, often times women are the ones who portray the image of the makeup industry, but is makeup being morphed into more than just an accessory to women alone?
Seventeen-year-old James Charles of New York is changing the face of makeup. He gained fame in the spotlight after posting a picture on twitter of his senior portraits that he had to have redone because his highlight, shimmery bright makeup applied to the cheekbones, was not obvious enough. He had his senior portraits redone and brought his own lighting so that he could not go wrong the second time around. Twitter blew up over this and James Charles was immediately thrown into the spotlight. He gained tons of twitter followers, as well as Instagram followers, and new followers on his video blog where he posts makeup tutorials. He even got a reaction from singer/actress Zendaya on twitter when she tweeted him saying, “You win.” If he was a girl though, would he have gotten the same reaction? Girls dislike their pictures all the time and want them redone, so why did he get so much attention for redoing his?
James Charles began makeup on accident. One of his close friends needed her makeup done for a dance and her actual makeup appointment with a professional got cancelled. Last minute, she had no other options, but Charles saved the day and did her makeup for her. It turned out a lot better than anyone had expected and he realized that he actually has talent on the field of makeup and beauty. This triggered his love and passion for makeup and caused him to flourish in his new hobby as a makeup guru. Charles says in an interview:
I'd been watching makeup tutorials for years and years, but I'd never actually done it. And I was, like: “Girl, I will do your makeup. But if you look awful, I'm not taking credit for it.” She was, like, “O.K., we'll do it because I have no other option.” And she ended up looking absolutely stunning. I wanted to continue. I bought a starter set online. I did my friends' makeup for fun, not charging them anything. Then I started charging $5 or $10. And then I'd take that money to buy new brushes or new equipment. After about three months, I made my Instagram page. And here we are, one year later.
Not only did he get recognition from people on social media, but also big makeup names acknowledged him as well. CoverGirl actually reached out to James Charles to become their new face of the brand and join them in the journey of breaking boundaries. Charles showed his excitement by stating, “Today, I am living out one of my biggest dreams. … That's right, I am a new CoverGirl.” Singer Katy Perry posed with Charles in a photoshoot for the brand and posted the photos on social media announcing the news that he would be beside her representing the brand now. Perry captioned a photo with James Charles: “Just wrapped another great @COVERGIRL shoot. Honored to have the pleasure to announce the very first COVERBOY, James Charles!” James Charles and Katy Perry both expressed their excitement for the change that the brand is bringing to light. This is a huge step in the progression of men and the makeup industry.
Typically, when someone sees a man wearing makeup, they question his sexuality or gender identification, but the makeup industry is trying to portray the message that men of all sexualities can wear makeup and it be “okay.” Wearing makeup is not limited to extravagant and glamourous looks, but can rather be a simple cover-up job. Women use cosmetics to cover up flaws and insecurities all the time, so why can men not do the same without being judged or put into a category just for caring about their appearance? Men wearing makeup and buying cosmetics does not define their sexuality or gender identification. Many people automatically jump to the conclusion of a man wearing makeup being a drag queen or trying to portray the appearance of a woman because of his desire to become one. There are a lot of men out there who have insecurities about themselves, but are afraid of trying to cover it up because of the fear of someone else judging them for it. How is it that we live in a world where someone can either hate themselves for their flaws or feel great about themselves but receive various forms of hate from others for how they go about it? Charles even talks about the issue in an interview with the New York Times saying how he sees guys on Instagram all the time trying new makeup looks, but he thinks even more men will try makeup if the makeup industry targets them and makes wearing makeup for them a normal thing instead of something rare or unheard of. Lux Alptraum, a writer and professional on sexuality wrote in an article for qz.com:
Despite the admirable efforts of the short-lived metrosexual movement, most straight men still view the use of beauty products to enhance their appearance as taboo.That's because, strides towards gender equality aside, we're still a pretty misogynistic society. Men who embrace femininity are much more likely to be mocked than, say, a woman who's a “tomboy.” After all, gender stereotypes, which are designed primarily to create arbitrary and binary power rankings, affect men as well as women. This nasty bit of sexism holds both men and women back by creating arbitrary societal standards of beauty and gender. At the same time, it discourages men from an activity that can be fun, empowering, and a great source of personal expression for men, regardless of their sexual orientation.
To make men more comfortable and because it is being found more common for a man to wear makeup than what it used to be, a lot of brands are working on changing their marketing strategies to target not only women, but men as well. Fashion director, Jamie Ross, says that there are men out there wearing women's products everyday so why not make this normal and provide them with their own products to make this feel more normal? There have even been talks of putting a cosmetic section in the men's department in certain stores. Although this does not seem like a huge deal and seems beneficial to some men, there are also people who do not like the idea. Some people have even threatened to not shop in the places that have tossed around the idea of having these men's makeup isles. There are people who do not like the thought of boundaries being broken and still think of makeup being only a women's product who do not support, at all, the fact that a man is now even representing a brand that originally began selling products only targeted to women.
Although James Charles is getting a whirlwind of attention, he is not the only male who has openly worn makeup. There are many men who openly wear makeup. There are other YouTube vloggers who make beauty tutorials such as Jeffree Star, who has his own makeup line, Manny Mua, Patrick Starrr and many others. There are also famous celebrities such as Prince and David Bowie who wore makeup as part of their performance and style who were actually straight men. Men have been wearing cosmetic products for as long as they have been available, but when worn a certain way they get different reactions.
There have been a ton of positive reactions toward James Charles as he lives out his dream doing and modeling makeup. A lot of people appreciate the boundary breaking that is taking place by a boy representing a huge makeup name. It opens up tons of doors for more men to follow in his footsteps and even be inspired to take on their own styles and looks. It encourages men that it is okay to wear makeup if you do not like something about yourself or even want to experiment with glamorous looks for fun or a special occasion. Various people have expressed how excited they are to see James Charles in the future and what he will accomplish as a CoverGirl representative. One of his twitter followers tweeted to Charles, “@jcharlesbeauty I'm so proud of you!!! seeing how far you've come and how much you've inspired me makes me so happy. congratulations!!” The support he has received has spoke wonders about how far society is coming in accepting that things are changing and boundaries are being broken,
On the flip side of that there has also been, as expected, an extraordinary amount of hate sent in his direction. One person on twitter tweeted, “@jcharlesbeauty @COVERGIRL Awwww HELL NO! You're NOT a female. You're a male wearing makeup... SMH.” There are a number of people who disagree and do not think that it is okay for him to be representing a brand or even wearing makeup in general. He has taken several hits from people who dislike him over social media comments. Charles seems to have more people who support him and what he is doing more than not. He commented on the hate he gets from followers in an interview with cosmopolitan:
My comment section used to be a mess to say the least. Now (Instagram) has added filters, so I've removed the classic hate comments, but people still manage to get through every once in a while. They really don't bother me. I have a thick skin, and I'm definitely not willing to let someone without anything better to do than hate on someone else behind a keyboard get into my head. … Our industry has been tailored towards woman for so long, so I think the only way that men will start to become more comfortable will be if the stereotypes are removed. Every guy who is comfortable doing so, however, is setting an amazing example and hopefully inspiring those around him.
CoverGirl actually commented on having James Charles as their first CoverBoy by saying that all of their models are rolemodels and they all break boundaries in their own way by displaying their indivisual versions of beautiful and that James Charles, though he is a guy, is not any different than their other representatives.
Society is evolving every single day in ways that aren't even recognized until you look back and see all of the ways it is different. Ten years ago men wearing makeup was not heard of outside of people in a rock band or performers. Ten years from now, there could be isles of makeup marketed toward and made specially for men. It will not happen overnight because there will always be people who discourage this to happen and do not agree with the changes that are taking place, but without people like James Charles the possibility for everyone to be seen equally in the makeup industry would not exist. In order to get to a place where everyone can be themselves and express their interests, beliefs, and true selves there have to be boundary breakers like James Charles who lead the way and show that makeup, one of the purest, self-expressing art forms is for everyone; not just women or members of the LGBT community, but for everyone to enjoy equally. He says in an interview with NY Times:
Hopefully other people will see this, and when they think, “Oh, this random 17-year-old kid just started doing makeup recently and is now the face of CoverGirl,” I hope that inspires them to really be themselves and feel comfortable and wear makeup and express themselves in a manner they haven't been comfortable doing before.
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