10 queer influencers who are challenging the way we think about beauty
Love In Color is a weekly series that celebrates Pride Month by showcasing the beauty of self-expression through makeup and fashion. We’re highlighting style’s importance to the LGBTQ community, from the outfits that made queer youth feel seen for the first time to the stories of drag queens who use makeup to express their identities.
Many girls spent their childhoods dressing up like Disney princesses, playing with hourglass-shaped dolls, and seeing white women with straight hair dominating billboards. Even if no one told these girls that they had to live up to those beauty standards, the prevalence of those images still made them believe that’s what they had to look like to be considered pretty. The same notion goes for boys, many of whom grew up with a specific idea of what masculinity looks like: muscular and tall, with a sharp jawline. Boys were told not to cry, wear makeup, or not do anything that “feminine” like painting their nails.
For countless people, the concept of non-binary gender identity didn’t arise until their teenage or adult years. But seeing others who look the way you feel can have a major impact on your own confidence and expression; when you feel seen, it can encourage you to explore sides of yourself you may not have known you had permission to explore. Yet for most of us, the people we looked up to as kids were celebrities with beauty looks that reinforced gender norms. Now, though, thanks to social media and smartphones, we have influencers—people with the power to communicate inclusive and barrier-breaking messages to millions of us 24/7.
Queer influencers, in particular, are challenging the way society defines beauty.
Some of these new-school public figures are shaving their heads, painting their nails, wearing makeup, and dying their hair bold colors, regardless of their gender identity. Through their self-expression, these influencers are changing what “beautiful” means, and showing us all what being comfortable and confident in your skin actually looks like. Not only are they proving that gender-specific beauty standards are B.S., but many of them are also using their platforms to encourage followers to vote, talk about mental health, share their journeys with eating disorders, andÂ raise money for Black Lives Matter. Below, meet 10 LGBTQ influencers who inspire us to live boldly every day.
1 Jessie Paege
Paege is a musician and influencer who has amassed over 1 million followers on Instagram and YouTube thanks to her unapologetic honesty, colorful feed, and optimism. She frequently posts about being bisexual, debunking misconceptions about sexual orientation and encouraging her followers to love themselves and others. She’s also open about her journey with mental illness and eating disorders; recently, she’s started posting more photos of her body to show her weight gain, telling people that all bodies are beautiful regardless of what they look like. When it comes to beauty, Paege is a total hair color chameleon, and even partnered with Tarte to create a Pride-inspired palette.
2 Matt Bernstein
Political beauty is the name of the game when it comes to describing Bernstein’s artistry and mission. He creates gorgeous, colorful looks that have LGBTQ political messages, and his photos are typically accompanied by informational slides that further inform his followers on important topics. Bernstein has teamed up with brands such as NYX Professionals, and recently, he’s fundraised for Black Lives Matter on his Live stories and encouraged his followers to register to vote.
With over 4.5 million followers on Instagram, Starr is undoubtedly a, well, star. He’s all about the long lashes, head wraps, wigs, and long gowns, and his makeup tutorial videos are full of uplifting vibes and humor. Starr oozes confidence and self-love—it’s part of what makes him so inspirational. He’s teamed up with big-name beauty brands like MAC and Benefit Cosmetics, and he’s worked with celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Jessica Alba to create fun beauty content. Trust us, you want to give him a follow.
Vaid-Menon is a ray of sunshine and a warrior in the fight against transphobia, and their new book, Beyond The Gender Binary, is a guide on being an ally and activist. They frequently wear low-cut dresses and skirts, and clap back at people who tell them to shave. “Body hair is beautiful. On the other side of shame, I am here—hairy, feminine, powerful!” reads one of their Instagram posts. Vaid-Menon also often has celebrities and influencers on their channel and podcast to talk about the gender binary, like Jameela Jamil.
5Nikkie de Jagger
If you love makeup tutorials, odds are de Jagger has popped up as a suggested video or account on your feed. With over 14 million followers, she’s earned the title of a beauty mogul and expert, and her makeup looks prove it. They’re colorful, bright, and bold, and de Jagger always breaks them down in easy-to-follow steps. In January, she posted a now-viral video in which she came out as transgender after someone threatened to out her. Since that moment, she’s been more open about her journey as a trans woman and how makeup plays into it.
Clark describes his aesthetic as “special occasion,” and his looks are the intersection of glam and fierce. He says that wearing makeup gives him a confidence boost and makes him feel snatched, but what he loves most are the comments he gets from his followers saying that he’s inspired them. “I feel like me wearing makeup makes others feel great,” he tells HelloGiggles.
Pang isn’t the girl-next-door—she’s your badass friend who gives it to you straight. She constantly features her head-to-toe tattoos on her Instagram and serves fierce makeup looks, too. They’re not your typical beauty looks; she often does full-face makeup with bold colors and shapes that are embellished with pearls, rhinestones, and more. On her feed, Pang is also incredibly open about her sobriety and what that journey has looked like for her.
Tokington is the online queer bestie you didn’t know you needed—until now. They don’t take themself too seriously, serve major beauty looks (they’re a big fan of playing with wigs one day and then proudly showing off their buzzed hair the next), and they’re always down to talk about LGBTQ sex. Tokington frequently post thirst traps on their feed, and they’re quick to respond to people who are either glorifying or insulting their body type.
If you’re looking for beauty influencers who post mood-boosting looks, search no further. Myla’s fun makeup looks are straight out of an Instagram filter, featuring everything from smiley faces to daises to butterfly wings. For her, makeup is about creativity, playfulness, and self-expression, just as it should be.