The makeup giant CoverGirl has announced its first “Coverboy” model—a 17-year-old boy who regularly wears makeup and says that the practice is “becoming more widely accepted” in society.
CoverGirl made the announcement on social media on Tuesday, introducing James Charles of Bethlehem, N.Y. as a “boundary breaker.”
“Meet @JCharlesBeauty: makeup artist, boundary breaker, and the newest COVERGIRL!” the company wrote. “Spread the word by regramming using #COVERGIRLJames.”
Charles, who regularly conducts makeup tutorials online, has 500,000 followers on Instagram and nearly 80,000 subscribers on his YouTube.
“Today, I am living out one of my biggest dreams,” he said in a video clip also posted by the company. “That’s right, I am a new CoverGirl.”
Charles told reporters following the announcement that he believes that gender “stereotypes” need to be broken surrounding the use of makeup.
“Breaking gender norms just comes instantly as soon as a boy is comfortable and confident enough to put on makeup. I think it’s so important to love who you are and be comfortable in your own skin,” he said to BuzzFeed.
“I see new guys on my Instagram feed every single day rocking amazing makeup looks and crazy out-of-the-box stuff. It’s a growing industry, and the population of boys in the industry is growing as well,” Charles also told the New York Times. “Men in makeup is becoming more widely accepted. But it’s going to take so much more open-mindedness to have it be a common thing.”
Charles, who also identifies as homosexual, says that he believes society is becoming more open to the unconventional.
“Gay marriage laws were passed recently. Now with people on social media and boys in makeup, we’re becoming more accepting in general,” he stated. “We have a lot longer to go. All of our biggest issues have taken a long time.”
When asked how he differs from a drag queen, Charles said that drag queens attempt to appear female, while he sees himself as just a boy in makeup.
“They are really similar in expressing yourself and releasing your creative juices. But boys in makeup are boys in makeup,” he said. “When you’re a drag performer, you’re a boy in makeup performing as a female. Drag is performance artistry.”
CoverGirl’s announcement, which obtained over 35,000 likes as of press time, has drawn both applause and dismay.
“I don’t put definitions on gender because freedom of expression … is freedom of expression on anyone. I won’t put limitations on anyone through materials such as clothing or makeup,” one follower wrote.
“Do I dress as a guy when I wear pants? No. Same way you’re not dressing as a girl wearing makeup,” another opined.
“[A]ncient men wore just as much makeup as women did. Everyone that is complaining and arguing against this is dumb and needs to learn that its 2016 and things are changing now,” a third remarked.
“I’m not sorry! Men shouldn’t wear makeup! And I don’t care if anyone disagrees with me,” wrote one follower who expressed concern.
“People need to open a Bible,” another remarked. “I’m pretty sure when God created the world, He didn’t want guys to dress up as girls.”
“We have no more society,” a third lamented. “All they want to do is further destroy families. Kept everyone guessing [about] what’s right and what’s wrong. No more genders. It’s to keep us submissive as a whole.”