Here’s an antidote to your locker-room-trampled spirit: Covergirl just announced its first male spokesperson, 17-year-old James Charles. “I am so beyond excited and overwhelmed and happy and astonished and of course, SHOOK, to announce that I am the newest face of @covergirl,” he wrote on his Instagram yesterday. “First ever male ambassador for the brand and I am so honored and excited to be working with such an iconic brand.”
WE’RE SHOOK TOO, JAMES.
This is a big deal for Covergirl, for the makeup industry, for society, for progress. I think it’s the biggest deal for boys, who are also affected by the gender normative social order so many of us ladies are fighting against. Remember last month when Amy Schumer and then everyone (including us) was up in arms about the juxtaposition of girls’ and boys’ magazines?
It was disappointing in that gutting, visceral kind of way. The one where you feel, so suddenly and only for a moment, like there’s maybe too much work to do. What I didn’t notice then was the content on the boys’ magazine cover, which I now see deals in stereotypes too. Go see for yourself.
We fight for women and girls to be whoever they want to be. For their right to choose and live outside the lines of what limited minds expect of them. The patriarchy, we cry, is why a woman is constantly made to feel lesser than her wholeness. A body part, a trait, a caricature of herself. “Patriarchy yells loudly and whispers subtly — constantly — that ladies, you really really wanna be one of the ones held aloft, if you want to be safe,” wrote Jill Soloway in Time this morning. “Because no one in the locker room is talking about the legs or asses or pussies of another man’s wife, daughters or mothers.”
But Soloway goes on to say that the “other” in metaphorical locker rooms is more than just woman. It’s anyone who either doesn’t participate in the high-fiving or isn’t invited in the first place. “Toxic masculinity,” as Soloway says, “is what gives name to the question of why most violence on this planet is done by men to men, why nearly all of the sexual violence is done by men, why the word football correlates more strongly with Sundays for most Americans than the word God.”
James Charles, Covergirl’s newest spokesperson, represents those who publicly expand the boundaries of what is conventionally viewed and rewarded as masculine. He created his Instagram, J Charles Beauty, about a year ago, and it now boasts over half a million followers. “My parents started questioning me about whether or not I was transgender — whether or not I was trying to be a woman. It was a big argument,” he told Marie Claire in May. “It took a lot of thorough conversations to explain that it’s an art form for me. I’m still confident as a boy and I will always be a boy. I can be confident with bare skin and with a full face.”
Covergirl’s announcement comes on the heels of another win for men (and women, of course): “On October 7th, President Obama signed into law the Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation Act, aka the BABIES Act,” reports the Huffington Post. “This legislation requires that both men’s and women’s restrooms in publicly accessible federal buildings contain baby changing tables.”
There’s magic in the turning over of tired expectations. Women and girls have a long way to go before achieving some version of parity, but it’s really refreshing to see the equality narrative flip to offer a helping hand to the boys and men who also bear the weight of our crooked landscape. Of toxic masculinity. I’m excited to watch them have a voice and a platform, too. A more public rejection of the binary is the gasoline we need to light “locker-room talk” on fire forever.
Photos via @jcharlesbeauty.