- Tired of the lack of diversity in the beauty industry and YouTube community, Jackie Aina started her own channel in 2009.
- She now has over 2.7 million followers on the platform, which she has often used to talk about the need for inclusivity in makeup.
- This year, she partnered with the brand Too Faced Cosmetics to expand their Born This Way foundation line.
- In the video above, we caught up with Aina in New York City to chat about the importance of diversity in beauty and the progress she’s seen since she started nine years ago.
Following is a transcript of the video:
Jackie Aina: A big part of my channel has always been empowering women of colour. It’s your girl Jackie Aina. Thank you so much for joining me on today’s video.
[Jackie Jackie Jackie Jackie…]
I would go to makeup counters and one, they’d be frantic. “Oh my God, the black girl’s here. What do we do?” Or they would just like, “Oh no, we don’t have anything for you.” Or “I wouldn’t do that on your complexion.” It was always like being the other. I always felt like I was an ‘other’ box at the makeup counter.
And it was so annoying and so frustrating that I was like, “You know what, I’m just gonna do this stuff myself and then I’ll just show people how to do it on YouTube.” I’m gonna apply that just directly on my eyelid.
People were like “Oh my god, like who’s this black girl? This dark-skinned girl, like she wears colour, she wears nude lips, she wears all the trends that we never see on people that look like us,” you know.
Maybe everyone’s gonna have a different opinion on this, but you have to get to where you wanna be first before you can really shake the table, right? So I would talk about it, I was very vocal, but also very mindful. I still wanna have a relationship with brands. I still wanna grow my platform. And the day that I get untouchable basically is when you’ll really hear it from me. That’s when I will really like use my platform in the way that I really want to, you know.
[Just don’t appreciate the blatant erasure of like a whole spectrum of people. Like it doesn’t even look like they tried.]
I believe if you’re gonna for example, critique brands or you know, talk about the negatives, I think you should also be uplifting black-owned businesses, you know, talking about other minority-owned businesses, you know.
[I’m going to be doing a full face using Muslim-owned beauty brands.]
To me it’s like, I have to kinda sandwich the positive with the negative because ultimately that’s the goal is to have more people in positions that look like me, you know, filling seats, working for brands, becoming influencers themselves, being voices that need to be heard, starting businesses.
I don’t want to call out everything. I don’t feel like I need to be the attack dog of every single incident that takes place online, you know. It’s also something that a lot of black women can relate to because people look to us to kind of be like the saviour of everything, and it’s like this isn’t something that we can carry on our backs all the time. Like, we need to collectively as a community, be able to say “Look, this is not ok, this is wrong.”
With respect to the conversation of diversity, this is what’s so ironic about the topic now because a lot of people like to say that I kind of talk about diversity as like a marketing ploy, and I’m like, if you only knew, five, even six, not that long ago, I was the one that was being told “Don’t talk about that, it’s too niche, it’s too specific, white people can’t relate to that. Lighter people can’t relate to that. Asian people can’t relate to that.” These are things that brands will tell me. I was turned down by management companies because they wouldn’t want to take on my brand, because they just didn’t see the vision. They just didn’t see the vision. It’s like, “what’s with this diversity thing?” like you know.
[Today we’re going to be talking about my favourite foundation line for women of colour.]
Of course there’s more to talk about than just that. That’s not the only thing that my platform is about, but the struggles of colorism don’t just affect the black community. They affect the Latin community. They affect Asian communities. They affect Natives. It’s something that a lot of people can relate to, as it relates to makeup. Mind you, this is still a makeup channel. So it’s like, you know, even though you don’t wear the same foundation as me. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy my videos.
[You can handle the dew. Like I don’t think I’m ready for this jelly. Now it does, however.]
It’s crazy seeing now the people that look like me are finally getting a chance to break those glass ceilings and actually grow past a certain number on YouTube. Whereas five years ago, it was not happening. I think that a lot of the work and vocalizing that people of colour have done on YouTube and social media in general, like I see viral tweets on Twitter all the time of people being like “This is unacceptable” from these brands, you know with these foundation shade ranges, and just their diversity and their brands in general.
All it takes is one Instagram post for a brand to show their new launch, and God forbid it doesn’t run darker than like, you know, tan. People will come for them. And brands see that and they have come to understand “Like, ok, we can’t we can’t let this slide anymore. We need to make more people visible.” And I’m not even just talking about as it relates to colour. I mean this could also relate to having Muslims in your campaign. You know, I love what Fenty did with having you know, women actually in hijabs in their campaigns. Seeing someone that looks like you is powerful. That to me is a direct reflection of like I’m accepted, I am beautiful. I’m worthy of being seen.
I actually got reached out by Jerrod Blandino, who at the time was the owner of Too Faced, ’cause now it’s an Estee brand. He sat me down in a office with like all his team. And basically was like, “We have not been doing very good justice to a particular community with our foundations and we want you to expand the Born This Way line and like be the face of it.” And I was like “Wow.” At that time, no one had ever done a campaign like that. You know, it really took me aback because I think it also reminded me of those earlier days in my career of hearing that “This diversity thing is going to get you nowhere.” And so it was kind of like a full circle moment for me.
[It’s finally here. Oh my god.]
And I’m so glad that now the conversation has gone from “Ugh don’t talk about that diversity thing anymore,” to now like, everybody’s stepping it up.