From CoverGirl To Pageant Queen: Celebrating A New Era Of Diversity From CoverGirl To Pageant Queen: Celebrating A New Era Of Diversity Diversity in the fashion industry is growing more than ever, and now the effect seems to be trickling down to the beauty sphere, especially since mainstream beauty brands like CoverGirl have taken big steps to make equal representation a priority in their new product campaigns. After announcing vlogger James Charles as their first ever CoverBoy, CoverGirl has now appointed YouTube beauty sensation Nura Afia as one of the newest brand ambassadors. Proudly wearing a hijab in campaign ads and YouTube tutorials, Afia has become the first hijab-wearing woman to face a major United States-based beauty brand. This all ties into CoverGirl’s new #lashequality campaign, which Covergirl hopes will inspire younger audiences to be proud of their own individual uniqueness. Nura Afia by Getty Images “Finding beauty by identifying with your culture is what beauty is all about.” – Dr. Annette Nunez “All of our Cover Girls are role models and boundary-breakers, fearlessly expressing themselves, standing up for what they believe, and redefining what it means to be beautiful,” says CoverGirl representatives via an email statement. You also may have also been hearing a great deal about history-making Halima Aden, especially since she has become the first contestant to compete in the Miss Minnesota USA beauty pageant wearing a hijab and burkini. Like Nura Afia, she hopes to use her platform to encourage younger women, while also dispelling any negative stereotypes and beliefs surrounding Islam. “Even though I got a lot of love and support from Muslims, non Muslims, parents, and young girls, I also got backlash,” Aden tells SWAAY. “People were telling me that I wasn’t ‘American.’ Someone said I wasn’t “Muslim.” Some people think I should have worn a bikini because a Burkini isn’t the American traditional swimsuit. I ignore all the negative comments.” “The people that are doing bad things, they don’t represent an entire group,” Aden recently said to ABC. “I feel like I’m here to bust those misconceptions and stereotypes of Muslim women.” Despite the backlash, Aden says she remains undaunted in her quest to move the needle towards equality. “I have a lot of little girls in my family,” she says. “It pains me to see how underrepresented they are. With all the negativity that has been going around, I wanted to spread a positive message about being inclusive and standing up for what you believe in.” Aden also says she focuses on the positive, and counts her mom as her role model. “My mother motivates me,” she says. “She’s been through so much raising me and giving me all the proper tools I needed to succeed. I’m so grateful for the values that she instilled in me at an early age. She’s the kind of woman I want to be like when I get older.” While it’s taken quite some time to see equal representation in cosmetic ads and pageants, Dr. Annette Nunez, licensed psychotherapist and founder of Breakthrough Interventions, finds the newfound diversity in the beauty-sphere to be extremely promising, especially since it will give younger generations a public figure to relate and look up to. “This is definitely opening up people’s minds,” says Dr. Nunez. “These individuals are role models for younger audiences, encouraging and empowering them to be proud of who they are, and not to be ashamed of their culture.” With different kinds of women finding more representation in the beauty sphere, Dr. Nunez also hopes that this will help inspire women to embrace their own cultural identity, as well as encouraging them to apply to more positions that will reflect their own uniqueness. “As we’ve become more accepting as a culture, the publicity from CoverGirl and Miss Minnesota USA could definitely encourage more women to step up, and apply themselves to bigger roles.” Courtney Leiva Courtney Leiva is a lifestyle and beauty writer who has contributed to Refinery29, Women's Health, NewBeauty, Byrdie and Self.com. When she's not writing, she's usually found experimenting with new gluten-free recipes that pop in her head. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @misscourtneysays!