Nikkie de Jager is a Dutch makeup artist and beauty vlogger. He gained online popularity in 2015 after his YouTube video, "The Power of Makeup", he owns Youtube channel NikkieTutorials with 2.4 million subscribers and has 12.9 million followers on Instagram
He recently came out as transgender.
I came to know about him when I watched Glow Up on Netflix, it is a competition where aspiring makeup artists navigate colourful challenges to win a career-making opportunity in the beauty industry.
Nikkie was a guest judge in one episode, the challenge was producing videos with the potential to go viral. His Youtube videos have featured stars like Kim Kardashian and Bebe Rehxa, she sure knows a thing or two about building a career.
American drag queen Kim Chi of RuPauls’s Drag Race fame was a guest judge in another episode, he judged the contestants on how well they created drag queen looks for a West End hit musical.
Just like many drag queens, they aren't obsessed about pronouns or gender identities, they see themselves as performers and artists, it is career first and social justice second, they often aren't part of indie activism or associated with any LGBT+ organisation, they want to disassociate with the dark underbelly of oppression, focus on light hearted entertainment, making concrete capital gains as a priority.
They're often co-opted as examples of trans women or role models for transgenderism, even if they didn't lift a finger to build shelters, speak to transgenders struggling nor claim to be interested. Their visibility has a trickle down effect, men are given even more power in modelling, make up, beauty, skincare, fashion, performance and art industries, widening the already existing male female disparity even further.
According to a joint investigation by In Other Words and artnet News—which together gathered and analyzed data from international auctions, leading galleries and the Art Basel fair—it is clear that the art market overwhelmingly finds greater value in work produced by men than that made by women.
More than $196.6 billion has been spent on art at auction between 2008 and the first five months of 2019. Of this, work made by women accounts for just $4 billion—around 2 percent.
It’s no secret that the beauty and cosmetics industry is geared toward female consumers. According to Euromonitor, global per capita spending on grooming products was $6.50 for men in 2015 and $58.50 for women. Despite that fact, most high-level decision makers in the industry are men. Though the beauty industry fares better in comparison to other sectors such as health, banking, technology and energy, beauty brands still have an average of just 29 percent female leadership across boards and executive teams, according to the LedBetter Gender Equality Index.
I can't seem to escape drag queens in anything I watch, they're also in Skin Wars, also showing on Netflix, where Rupaul is a permanent judge and each season is sure to have at least one or two episodes about drag.
They do not reveal if they're gay, bi, straight, enjoy cross dressing or want to medically transition, compared to people with gender dysphoria or struggling with other issues, they're in a whole other space, it's primarily a capitalistic endeavour on their end, if activism is involved, it takes up a small part of their lives, for most of them, not at all.
Noticeably missing is Rupaul pushing for lesbian or bi women to be involved, there is no large scale drag king competition anywhere in the world, there was no episode about a lesbian themed challenge, I see him everywhere and wherever he is, there is no increase in opportunities for women.
It would be fun to see someone transform a woman into a man, push the boundaries of gender performances like never before, I'm disappointed this isn't happening as much in mass media. I think when a man perform gender as a woman, there is so much to explore, so many avenues, so many possibilities, it opens up career opportunities for them in the capitalistic world, it is automatically seen as stunning and brave in the social justice world as well, they have nothing to lose and all to gain.
Being trans lines someone's pockets, is good publicity at the same time, it sounds like a win win proposition, for others, it is seen as medical harm and child abuse. These two fractions are far from each other, when I spoke to people from both camps, they had no clue what's happening on the other side.
When a contestant transformed a female into a male on Glow Up, she was criticised for being boring by male judge Dominic Skinner, who smirked and dismissed it, it is the same dismissive smirk I have seen multiple men use on my butch ex, bare faced women without a stitch of make up is automatically seen as ugly women, othered for not being acceptably ultra feminine like Nikkie or theatrically campy like drag queens.
I believe capitalism is a huge reason for increasing trans and detrans rates, it is the false promise that everyone can go viral suddenly then shoot for internet stardom, the reality is much more competitive, every success story hides millions of failures, when those who socially or medically transition don't gain clout fast, they burn out, it isn't always a genuine case of transitioning due to health issues, although it is usually spun as such, it is also the seeking of rapid fame that fuels this narrative.
When a woman goes make up free, she is a boring lazy woman who let herself go, she is chastised, harassed and often threatened with corrective rape if she's out, it reduces her work opportunities and she is still pressured to make active obvious efforts for social justice. The oppressed is frequently tasked with educating aggressors, it is another form of re-victimisation, an entitlement that doesn't involve proper credit, it is owed and therefore expected, it does nothing for her whatsoever.
I get this reaction frequently, when I write fiction or create art, I am told I'm not being a serious enough activist or the right kind of feminist, even when my art has political overtones I know will alienate people, the audience is niche and that means working harder at marketing to reach them, so much so that I find myself lacking time to hone my craft, then I get criticised by the literary crowd for not being a good enough writer.
Even if there're intentionally hidden social justice messages in my fiction, I am pressured to be blatantly obvious, address these issues head on, while all the relaxing therapeutic stuff is left to male writers, I am not allowed to manage my mental health through art and I need to, it is not an option, it is a need.
I have been serious for 25 years, because most of it was grassroots, some of it was paid full time work with organisations, some of it was volunteerism with friends, most of it was solo, I don't have any photos and I never felt the need to tell people about it either, it doesn't mean I didn't continuously contribute, I don't feel the need to justify any of it either.
I think I deserve a right to write what I want, make art the way I want and this is already with the knowledge that I won't immediately have an audience like Zoe Buckman any time soon.
When white women make art, no one tells them they must put social justice first creativity second, they support their quest for creativity even if they're insulated from the marginalised, they live in echo chambers with full safety nets, they haven't gotten their hands dirty in grassroots organisations ever, they constantly criticise what they don't know, it doesn't matter.
Opportunistic white women relying on feminism to make money or to achieve fame is seen as being intelligent business women, women of colour making money off social themes are seen as greedy money hungry grabbers arriving to rob from the same master's house that evicted us, it's not as if I don't want to stay in it, it didn't want me first, I do not have the frequently touted choice that many middle or upper class feminists expound on, I wish I did, there is no reason for me not to want my life to be better or easier, if it was that meant I can commit more to activism without worries.
They're seen as courageous for taking a little step in the right direction, female artists of colour have to take huge leaps of faith, forcefully endure large risks, to be even heard.
Frankly, I am envious of them, I am envious of getting so much support, I know I am treated differently, even if no one believes me, their disbelief doesn't change my material reality one bit. The refusal to acknowledge anything doesn't magically improve my life, it proves to me instead that I'm spot on, in my quest to help, at the end of the day I will still be left alone to deal with my life, so I better not overdo it.
Like any marginalised person, I have to unlearn my conditioning, I also pressured myself to do just that for the last four years, set my artistic integrity aside for justice, I'm sick of myself, so I want to make space for it, even if no one likes it, I demand my freedom to create even if no one cares and frankly I get too little support to have much to lose, people underestimate how hard I work, how little my returns are all the time. Even if I volunteer, I am literally not earning a red cent, I am still called a capitalist, it is clear sexism and racism, it has nothing to do with who I am at all, I am expected to make sacrifices by both misogynists and racists.
Similarly, when I speak to other lesbian or bisexual activists, many who work full time in social justice organisations or are independent activists who dedicate much of their free time outside of paid work towards activism, they encounter the same attitudes, that activism is often seen as a must, their basic needs are secondary, we all struggle between a secure financial future and our want to show up strong for womanhood, to continue volunteering, we have to stop worrying about the basics first.
Capitalism is shunned with talks of buying into neoliberalism, selling out to commodification, it is a reminder of fat cat top 1% who sit in ivory towers doing nothing but judge how lazy people at the bottom are. Even if we're nowhere near the fat cats, we can't even find the bowl they drink out of, our sacrifices remain unrecognised, only those like us know and they all know it isn't because feminism is a luxury, it is a necessity that we make much hidden sacrifices for.
Even taking their work seriously, organising and having plans is associated with greed and selfishness, they find themselves having to prove their altruism when LGBT+ men get credit even if they do not bother half as much or at all, their visibility speaks volumes and that is enough. LB women face much more pressure to perform gender with a social message, rather than because she is her and that is she.
In his coming out video, the beauty vlogger went on to explain how he began his transition at the age of six when he grew her hair and began to wear girls’ clothes.
“My mum knew immediately that I either was going to be gay or a different type of story. And it turned out to be a different type of story,” she said, adding her mum had been “convinced” during her pregnancy she was having a girl.
Nikkie, who began sharing videos of his make-up tutorials online at 14, also spoke openly about his transition, saying he began hormone treatment at the same time.
Kudos to Nikkie for being a success story, there is no reason why being transgender takes any of that away, similar to make up guru Michelle Phan with 8.92M Youtube subscribers and 2M Instagram followers. She posted her first make up tutorial in 2006, at 22, she became Lancôme's official video makeup artist. In 2013, she launched her first makeup line, Em Cosmetics, with L'Oreal.
They both deserve credit for their successes.
In the wake of Nikkie's video was the firing of Lisa Blandino (who goes by Dani California on social media), the sister of Jerrod Blandino, co-founder and chief creative officer of the beauty brand Too Faced.
Dani changed her Instagram bio to read: “Transgender, huh? That’s not the only thing she’s been lying about.”
Nikkie admitted in the video that he lied to his fiancé prior to this video, this wasn't mentioned in MSM, it was in small groups on Tumblr that I found people talking about this.
After suffering backlash from Nikkie's fans, Dani changed it to "lets be clear, I love trans people & dislike anyone who lies to hurt others! Period!”
Jerrod Blandino announced that the company had ended its professional relationship with Lisa on Tuesday evening, after hours of vehement backlash.
“Let it be known that I am shocked and disgusted to my core at her [Lisa’s] actions,” Jerrod posted in an Instagram story. “I do not tolerate this behavior and she is no longer an employee of Too Faced.”
Back in 2016, Nikkie and Too Faced worked together on a collection called “The Too Faced Power of Makeup by Nikkie Tutorials Collaboration.” Customers who were eager to buy the collab were ultimately not happy with the quality of the collection. Nikkie later said that the collaboration’s poor reception affected his reputation and made his fans lose trust in his reviews and product collaborations.
Whether you agree or disagree with what Lisa posted or whether Nikkie is a man or a woman, what we can be certain is the result is always biological women getting the short end of the stick, no matter how we look at it, we have to save ourselves and each other, men aren't riding in on white horses, they never have, they won't start now.
Eshet chayil, God is a She.
Glow Up photo around here.
Kim Chi photo found here.
Skin Wars photo found here.
Quote taken from here.
Zoe Buckman art found here.
Michelle Phan photo found here.