YouTube, Makeup Videos, and Me

Over the past couple of years, I have become gradually more and more disenchanted by YouTube. I’m sure you understand the feeling. I’ve recently curated my subscription feed to better reflect this sense of apathy. What’s left is an odd collection: the daily vlogs of queer millennials, Sexplanations, and makeup videos.

But how can someone who has very little patience or skill when it comes to makeup be willing to spend hours upon hours watching everything from drugstore hauls to Selena Gomez inspired tutorials? For the first time in my life, I can (and will) prattle on about designer makeup collections as if I actually own and use the products. I have sincere opinions about things like the artificially sweet scents of Too Faced eyeshadow palettes, and utility of the MAC 217 Blending Brush.

I have a theory. I think I love makeup YouTube videos because they’re so blatantly and unabashedly not for men. It’s very clear that even the creators themselves understand that their audience is mostly women. And yet, they make no attempt to appeal to all of the people who find makeup culture frivolous. Creating and sharing dozens and dozens of makeup looks is literally their full-time job.

Makeup has always been a part of women’s culture. I don’t want to understate the seriousness of the beauty premium, and I don’t want to claim that there’s never been a facet of makeup culture that was oppressive. I do, however, want to point out how cool the aesthetics-for-the-sake-of-aesthetics trend of the past few years is. We’ve been thinking about makeup as outlet for creative and self expression. We’ve been shutting down people who suggest that we wear makeup to please others. We’ve been cultivating an entire subculture that encourages teenage girls to think about how makeup makes them feel. It’s all about ourselves! And our community! And our feelings!




Watching makeup videos makes me feel connected to my community in a way that hardly any other type of YouTube content does. At a time when finding ways to connect to our communities is dire, I take comfort in the fact that this side of YouTube exists and is thriving.

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Teal Christensen
“Rock On!”

Teal Christensen

Teal is a recently-graduated English literature student with more unfinalized future plans than favorite songs from Hamilton. Her main hobbies are reading books, thinking about books, and talking about books.

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