Toronto

This 18-year-old woke up with 18,000 likes on his impeccably made-up yearbook photo

Although high school student Kevin Kodra is a makeup artist and self described “social media influencer,” with thousands of followers on Instagram, the degree of reaction to a grad photo he posted on the social media site on Monday was surprising, even to him.

The makeup look took 4 hours to apply, Kevin Kodra says

Kevin Kodra's grad photo went viral after he posted it to Instagram on Monday. (Instagram)

High school student Kevin Kodra is a makeup artist and self described "social media influencer" with thousands of followers on Instagram, but the reaction to a graduation photo he posted on the social media site on Monday was surprising, even to him.

"When I woke up the next morning ... with 18,000 likes on my photo — it was different, to say the least," he told CBC Radio's Here and Now on Thursday. 

Within two days of Kodra posting the photo, popular magazines including Seventeen and Teen Vogue had written features on the 18-year-old.

"This is a new concept: a yearbook photo going viral," he said.

Kevin Kodra has had international media attention after his grad photo went viral on Instagram. (CBC)

Kodra says he might have gotten that reaction because of what he describes as his "glamorous, bronzy… very red-carpet" look.

It took him four hours to apply the makeup for his photo back in March. The result was an almost unreal visage, contoured to near perfection.

"There's a lot of lash involved," he laughed.

Kevin Kodra said he spent four hours on his makeup before picture day at his school in March. (Instagram)

'Honestly, it was very supportive.'

But perhaps a bigger surprise to some was the support Kodra received from his family and friends at Bishop Allen Academy, a Catholic school in Etobicoke.

"Honestly, it was very supportive."

Kodra comes from a "traditional Albanian background," but explains that his dad was one of his biggest supporters along with his two best friends — both male, both Albanian.

"It's different for my background," Kodra said.

Kevin Kodra, 18, intends to take media arts and production at university next year. (Instagram)

'I don't see the hate'

Asked whether he's experienced any negative feedback, Kodra explains that he has a filter on his Instagram comments, which allows him to be "in my little bubble, my own little world where I don't see the hate."

The concept of a man in makeup still isn't entirely socially acceptable, he says.

Kevin Kodra, 18, is a makeup artist and self-described 'social media influencer' from Etobicoke. (Instagram)

"The masculinity that's wanted by men, and that's expected by a lot of women and men — it's uncomfortable for those hyper-masculine men to see a guy wearing four-inch lashes on his face, or over-lined lips, or contour or highlight. It's just uncomfortable."

Kodra will graduate in June and plans to go to either Ryerson University or York University next year where he hopes to pursue media arts and production — a career path teachers at his school have encouraged him to pursue, he says.

"It's humbling to say the least," he told Here and Now.

Besides taking the perfect selfie,  Kodra says, a big part of his goal is to "break down that stigma and that social barrier."

"I want little guys and little girls to know that they don't have to be feminine or masculine — they can be whatever they want."

With files from Here and Now

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