NikkieTutorials Coming Out - a Radical Watershed in Transgender Representation
Nikkie de Jager, the powerhouse of internet beauty and makeup, better known as Nikkietutorials, has come out as a transgender woman.
For the increasingly brief minority who refuse to engage with this new celebrity of social media, the preceding status might mean very little, but for the rest of us, especially those like me who also identify as transgender women, this is a watershed moment.
In her poignant video, released on her channel this week, Nikkie speaks of living as a trans woman who never felt there was a moment to be able to come out and speak her truth, that doing so would place her business and social capital at risk. Then there was the issue of never being quite sure of how to come out after creating a persona centered around feminine beauty and aesthetic perfection, simple things so often denied to trans women.
To understand what it means that someone who is so culturally ingrained with beauty as an industry has come out as transgender, it's useful to look at what has come before.
April Ashley is widely considered the first prominent transgender beauty figure, navigating a successful career as a supermodel, and yet when the English press caught wind of this fact her career ended as quickly as it started.
Furthermore when Caroline Cossey came out in the 80's as being the first "trans supermodel", her career was eviscerated by the British press with cruel headlines such as, "Bond Girl Is Bond Boy.". It is only within the last five years, with a renewed appreciation of androgyny in fashion, that any true strides have been made toward transgender representation in the beauty community and even then, very little that rivals Nikkie's impact and reach.
De Jagers coming out must absolutely and unequivocally be celebrated for what it represents - a radical and important watershed in transgender representation. When faced with the threat of being outed, she has done what social media does best, reclaimed her own narrative and her own story.
It does us no favours to underestimate the impact that Nikkie's videos have on society, she is by and large the pinnacle of a new social media celebrity, one who has explicitly gained her status by dictating how to do "beauty". When De Jager mentions a brand, that brand sells. When she mentions an artist, that artist is seen. If one wished to cast cynicism upon her they might easily find it by claiming she is a "vessel for capitalist endeavour".
And yet in coming out as a transgender woman, Nikkie has ascended this.
To speak personally, I, as a transgender woman, have never felt that I have a stake in what society sees as beautiful, but in one video, in one statement, a statement that she is a transgender woman, a woman like me, Nikkie has completely changed the conversation.
And there is no turning back from a new dawn.
This post was written by Marilyn Misandry.
Marilyn Misandry is a queer performance artist, clown, and writer who works and plays in Manchester. Her work can be found on many platforms and publications including The Independent and New Statesman. In her free time she enjoys buffet dining and 90s sitcoms.