By Danielle Pergament. Photos: Courtesy of CoverGirl.
It is inarguably the most dangerous four letter word the world has ever known. It’s the word that inspires terror and hoods, ignorance and war. And it is thrown around in 2016 with the ease of a football and the impact of a hand grenade.
That’s why we’re focusing on another word. Courage.
So here’s a story for you. Pretend you’re a young man. Scratch that—you’re a kid. You grow up in Bethlehem. (Technically, Bethlehem, New York but feel free to interpret that any way you like.) At 12, you realize you’re gay. You tell your parents, and they’re cool with it. No big thing. A few years later, you play around with makeup—because, well, it’s makeup. That’s the point. You realize that lipstick and eye shadow are awesome and transformative and if you do it right, you feel better; and if you do it wrong, you know, whatever. And the thing is, you’re good at it. Really good. It suits you. (Except for false eyelashes, which are freaking hard, and you will go on to glue your eyes shut at least 15 times.). By the time you’re 17, you have a YouTube channel, Zendaya is a huge fan, and a little company called CoverGirl has decided to name you the first ever cover boy.
But inevitably—tragically—the haters come out.
A few days ago, a controversy about CoverGirl James Charles—that’s his biography you just read—started swirling in the dark, ignorant corners of the internet. Maybe you read about it, maybe you didn’t, maybe you’ll Google it at the end of this article.
Of course, Charles isn’t so naïve as to believe there weren’t going to be haters. “I get really negative comments all the time,” Charles tells us in an upcoming issue of Allure, “but the comments that really bother me are the ones that question my character.”
And yet there is something bigger at play here. There was a wall. He tore it down. There was no trail. He blazed one. There was a group of people. And he just gave them a role model.
We at Allure choose not to give credence to ugly, bigoted comments. If you judge someone for the powders and creams they put on their face, if you are governed by bigotry, if you are driven by intolerance, if you are threatened by differences, if you are scared by anyone who doesn’t look like you, we will not give you a microphone.
Allure has always celebrated differences. Taking risks, pushing the envelope—whether it’s Katharine Hepburn in pants or Viola Davis in her natural hair texture or a young man in eyeliner—these are the only ways the beauty needle moves forward. And without them, we shudder to think what the world would look like.
“I’m having fun; I’m being myself; I’m doing what I love,” says Charles. “That’s all that matters.”
And at Allure, that’s all that ever will.
This story originally appeared on Allure.
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