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Gigi Gorgeous on YouTube, Beauty and How Brands Can Do Better

The YouTuber, model, author and activist spoke at WWD's Culture Conference in New York.

Gigi Gorgeous’ introduction to the beauty world began at her late mother’s vanity. In fact, it was through her mother’s beauty rituals that Gorgeous, born Gregory Allan Lazzarato, realized she was transgender.

“A lot of young girls and young boys and young people go in their mom’s vanity and dress up in her clothes and have fun and experiment and get into beauty and fashion that way,” said Gorgeous. “For me, it was very that. That was my introduction to makeup. That was the gateway to me finding out that I was transgender.”

Before becoming an influencer-activist-author-model, Gorgeous worked at McDonald’s, vlogging on YouTube in her spare time.

“I had a digital camera, so I thought I’d do my first video,” she explained. “I posted it and instantly, there were comments from people I didn’t know. Then I did another one and another one and then [Google advertising program] AdSense reached out to me [to advertise]. I was working at McDonald’s at the time, so I had a job, but this was a hobby. Now, YouTube has blown up. Back then, it was very different.”

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Nearly a decade later, Gorgeous counts 2.9 million YouTube subscribers, 2.2 million Instagram followers and 297,000 followers on Twitter. Known to be outspoken on a number of social issues, she collaborated with charitable cosmetics brand CrushXO in 2018 on a liquid lipstick shade. The shade benefited The Keep a Breast Foundation and was named after Gorgeous’ mother, Judy, who died of breast cancer when Gorgeous was 19.

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In October, Gorgeous announced that she would release her own cosmetics line with Ipsy. The collection consists of a lip gloss, contour brush and duo matte bronzer and blush. The products, which launched earlier this month, are vegan and cruelty-free.

Ipsy approached Gorgeous “years and years and years ago,” she said. She had been a fan of the beauty subscription company since before she was officially out as transgender.

“They were always really nice to me and I wasn’t even out as transgender when we first worked together,” she said. “When they approached me this past year about working together and creating something more substantial, it was an instant ‘yes.’ It took about a year [to develop the line].”

She designed the collaboration with the trans community in mind, also keeping in mind her past gender.

“It would be remiss of me to not create a product for my past gender,” she explained. “That’s how I thought of it: I always was a girl, but my exterior, I present as a girl. It would be silly of me to not keep my old self in mind. I know that there are people who don’t identify as male or female, they’re in the middle, they’re working on it, they’re discovering themselves and I know my makeup speaks to everyone. I wanted it to be chic, gorgeous, good colors and amazing formula.”

Ipsy gave her free rein when it came to product communication — another aspect that made her keen to work with the company.

“They didn’t give me speaking points, they didn’t tell me what to say or let me know these are the products we’re gonna do, slap your name on it, which I wouldn’t have done,” she said. “They let me take my time with it, go through rounds of formulas with packaging, with the feel of the material, the colors, the box, the campaign that we shot. It was amazing. It was like, let’s create it together.”

In addition to her Ipsy collaboration, Gorgeous released her autobiography, “He Said, She Said: Lessons, Stories, and Mistakes from My Transgender Journey,” and married socialite and model Nats Getty earlier this year.

“Marriage has solidified my relationship with [Getty],” said Gorgeous. “It’s been over three years that we’ve been together. I can’t imagine who I was before that. I know who I was — I was on YouTube, I can go see who I was. But to feel that is weird. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Her sexuality wasn’t always accepted or understood by the lesbian community, she continued. “The comment I got a lot of that shocked and upset me was, ‘Why would you transition if you just want to be with a girl at the end of the day?’ That’s so ignorant, so wild. It’s not a publicity stunt. Now, I’m more open to all communities because I’ve been a part of several.”

Her experience transitioning inspired a potential future fashion project — namely swimwear. She declined to give too many details, instead offering that her approach to fashion is emotional.

“When I transitioned, it was girly, girly, girly, all the time,” she said. “Could not be anything but the girliest pink all the time, little shirts. Now I’m more mature, I’m more comfortable, I’m OK dressing it down. That’s something a lot of people in the community go through. Sometimes you don’t feel the most feminine and you have to overcompensate. My wife is the swaggiest girl ever. She’s like Justin Bieber. She has a lot of boy clothes, so I often wear those and I feel fine, beautiful. I take it day by day.”

Asked how beauty and fashion brands can better address the transgender community, Gorgeous stressed the importance of visibility.

“The main thing for me is visibility,” she said. “Having trans people be at the forefront of the newest campaign or the newest fragrance, not even in beauty and fashion, a new car, anything. Put them out there and let it be seen.”

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