By Nazreen Nasir
Published: November 16th, 2016
Islam is the third largest religion in the United States, yet in this “land of the free,” Muslims, especially women, are not always able to live honestly. People know such little about Islam that even a simple hijab, or a brown man with a beard, can frighten someone and lead them to believe that their lives may be in danger. Not only is that offensive to us Muslims, but it also just shows how little acceptance there is of people who are different, and that is NOT okay.
Religious differences aren’t the only things targeted throughout our country. The LGBT community has suffered discrimination and hatred within the past few years as well. Unfortunately, accepting people as they are has become a lot to ask for in America, a country that was founded on the very principles of acceptance and tolerance.
Through all of the hate our culture has and is still enduring, CoverGirl® is doing everything to shine a bright light through this darkness. The brand has always been known for its diversity in leadership roles, and recently recruited beauty blogger Nura Afia and aspiring makeup artist James Charles as ambassadors for the company. They had the privilege of joining the team of fellow representatives, including Ellen DeGeneres, Rihanna, Queen Latifah, Taylor Swift, Dania Ramirez, and many more.
As CoverGirl’s first Muslim ambassador, Nura Afia, is making history! Nura Afia is also the first woman to fully emerge in a hijab in the brand’s advertising. Afia first started sharing her talent with the YouTube world five years ago in Denver, Colorado, whilst nurturing her beautiful infant daughter alongside her husband, Asif. This gorgeous 23-year-old has starred in a new CoverGirl campaign, “So Lashy Mascara,” alongside Katy Perry and Sofia Vergara, who are well known ambassadors of the company.
She recently told TODAY Style, “It’s so amazing, because I feel like it’s never really been done before. I’ve never seen a hijabi or a Muslim woman on a billboard in Times Square. That’s as big as it gets! I think it’s very important that Muslim women – and just average people- get represented.” She continued with the discussion of advertising and the “requirements” of being ‘perfect,’ in order to be on screen, stating,“I’m not the perfect beauty standard. I never had braces, so I have kind of crooked bottom teeth. This is unreal for me. I always thought I had to be taller and have perfect teeth to even think about being in something this big.”
Generation after generation, the beauty standards have always been somewhat the same. We have been forced to compare ourselves to the man or woman on television or in the magazines; to have rock hard abs, or the perfect 28-inch waist, but none of that was reality. CoverGirl is positively changing that very outlook and is advertising what is real, which is what we desperately need to see so much more of in this world.
A month before Afia made the team, Charles, a 17-year-old aspiring makeup artist from Bethlehem, New York, got the opportunity to join the brand. He is the first male CoverGirl. He began sharing his art with the world through Instagram about a year ago and went viral in September.
Charles states in his Instagram bio, “I am so honored and excited to be working with such an iconic brand. I started my Instagram one year ago to inspire others and as an artistic outlet to challenge myself creatively. I truly hope that this shows that anyone and everyone can wear makeup and can do anything if you work hard.”
Not only is he representing the LGBT community, but he is undoubtedly inspiring the rest of us with his beautiful art work, his motivation, his positivity, and his persistence.
He tells Allure magazine, “This is literally the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me. I mean, I’m basically, like, 12 years old [laughs], so not many cool things have happened in the first place, but this definitely takes the cake. It’s such a huge honor to be working with one of the most iconic beauty brands in history, alongside huge icons such as Katy Perry. It’s groundbreaking, and I cannot wait to see what else comes from it. This year is going to be amazing.”
He continues to enthuse us through his YouTube channel, “James Charles,” with his creative makeup looks he calls “out-of-the-box tutorials.”
A nation can begin to tear people down through colorless acts and hurtful words against what they believe in, who they are, or what religion they practice, but every tiny bit of positivity counts. Afia and Charles aren’t the only ones who parade a clear confidence in themselves. There are numerous beauty bloggers and YouTube artists inspiring others through their art. Huda Kattan (Huda Beauty), Sharifa Easmin-Kabir, Wayne Gross, Nabela Noor, Manny (Manny Mua), Irene Khan, and Patrick Star (PatrickStarrr), along with countless other gurus, have taken creativity to a new level while going against the norm, and have reached major success!
In a time like this, when our generation and our world as a whole are suffering from hate crimes and unnecessary negativity, it pleases me to know that a major brand, such as CoverGirl, is radiating (and highlighting) so much positivity and breaking down barriers. The brand prides itself in its commitment to diversity. Congratulations to Nura and James for being a big part of CoverGirl’s history and for helping us get one step closer to more a peaceful world.