Remembering back to the crucible that was high school, the thought of standing out from amongst the crowd still makes for an anxious, heart-racing moment for many. Few is the count of young adults who have a strong grasp on self-awareness. Those such teenagers who read this now please take this as a compliment. There are adults well into their 30s and beyond who have yet to stand on their own two feet.
Looking back on the teenaged years, one has to understand that the environment of the past is far different from that of today. Where us adults could fall into the sanctity of our bedrooms and hide away from the embarrassment and anxiety of the school day, today’s teens can still be reminded of an awkward day through an unwelcomed text, or reading about it on social media. But, the principle of the matter remains the same for every generation. Sometimes the best way to avoid the drama and potential conflict is to keep your nose to the ground, or go along with the tide of popularity defined by the social elite.
Huh, maybe adult life isn’t all that different.
So, those precious few brave enough to stand out from a crowd always face adversity. Always. The difference can be as subtle as the wrong shoes or the wrong jeans. The perceived oddity is relentlessly picked at. And, when the day passes on to the next, the faux pas is remembered throughout the course of conversation.
Then, there are individuals like 17-year-old James Charles. James’ interests differ from your stereotypical young man. He wears make-up. He wears nails. And, he makes it known. To everyone. His face, done up with some of the most incredible examples of cosmetic creativity is all over Instagram, where he has half a million followers. He shares his technique through videos on YouTube. Nothing subtle there.
James is standing, jumping, dancing, screaming against conformity. Where older generations defined their environment within the walls of their respective high school, James has done what many younger men and women do today. They push out into the internet. Their world is no longer defined by the hallways they walk in between classes. They’re bold enough to declare the world as the environment they navigate through.
And, people have taken notice of James.
CoverGirl, an icon in the cosmetic industry, has associated itself with famous actors and entertainers by naming them as the face of its company. Cybil Shepherd, Drew Barrymore, Rihanna, Queen Latifah, Pink, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry — just to name a few. For nearly 60 years, a woman has been the spokesperson. Last week, James was able to drop those names as among his peer group, as he was named the company’s new CoverBoy.
Robert Frost said something about walking the road less traveled. Truth be told, most adults still find it difficult to walk away from the peer pressure of buying North Face or Starbucks.
Well done, James!
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.