On Netflix's Queer Eye, Jonathan Van Ness provides lucky people with the opportunity to be made over. He teaches them how to wear their hair, do their makeup, and moisturize their faces, convincing them (and us) that a little self-care can go a long way. Now, he's taking a little bit of that makeover magic to Essie, where he will serve as the nail polish company's first brand ambassador who is not a woman. They are just the latest beauty brand to join the movement in creating more inclusive advertisements.
The announcement came during the early days of June, which is Pride Month. Van Ness has regularly defies conventional gender roles – whether it's wearing a gown on the red carpet or a crop top and platform boots out and about – and his presence on Queer Eye has encouraged people to be more comfortable with their sense of individual expression.
"I’m so honored to announce I’ve teamed up with @essie as their first non-female ambassador in celebration of Pride," Van Ness wrote, in an Instagram announcing the news. "For me, polish has always been a form of self-expression. Right now that means this mosaic rainbow mani moment. Wearing it proud!"
“There is no one way to do beauty anymore," Greg Hui, Essie's Vice President of Marketing told Glossy. "Now it’s about embracing individuality and not seeing that as an isolating point."
But while the company did announce Van Ness as their ambassador during Pride month, Hui said that the company has a larger goal that extends beyond inclusivity just for a single month, which is why they didn't launch a collection of Pride nail polish colors.
“We don’t want to limit people to a collection of Pride colors, because we don’t want anyone to think this is a once-a-year product. It’s an everyday, yearlong thing,” he said. “Essie didn’t plan to launch a Pride collection because we don’t want to be seen as taking advantage of a cultural moment.”
Van Ness's Essie announcement was met with joy from his followers. "Yes! My 3yo son loves to wear polish and I’m so glad we are all (hopefully) relaxing these messed up ideas we have about what people can and can’t do!” one Instagram user wrote.
“My son just came out to me a few weeks ago, yesterday we painted his nails, it made him so happy #proudMomma” another person wrote.
Van Ness is one of the many pop culture figures who have been comfortable breaking gender norms. Like Van Ness, celebrities like Harry Styles and Bad Bunny regularly sport vibrant, colorful nails for press events and performances. And, Van Ness is one of several non-female beauty campaign stars in recent memory. Internet darlings Luka Sabbat and Troye Sivan have both starred in their own makeup campaigns this year — Sabbat was part of a Milk Makeup campaign, and Sivan has been a face for both MAC and Glossier.
Of course, the issues facing people who don't conform to traditional gender roles will not disappear with inclusive beauty campaigns. But, the companies involved in them making consistent, conscious efforts to include beautiful people of many different identities is certainly a positive step. Hopefully, with campaigns like Van Ness's more people will embrace the idea of colorful manicures for anyone who wants to wear one.