Jackie Aina, a makeup YouTuber with one of the longest and most successful careers on the platform, has a major feature story in Cosmopolitan magazine. This is another big step for traditional media companies to acknowledge a burgeoning industry online.
Aina's story, written by Ama Kwarteng, highlights the unique challenges the influencer has had trying to create a space for Black women in the beauty industry.
Aina told Kwarteng, who noted in the piece that she's also the eldest daughter to African immigrant parents, that she grew up with immense pressure to succeed because of the sacrifices of her parents.
"We learned to be independent and extremely solution-oriented, while suppressing our feelings in order to stay strong for others," the writer writes about her and Aina's shared family values.
While the YouTuber has nearly 3.6 million subscribers today, her start on the platform in 2009 was unconventional and experimental.
"Jackie started her YouTube channel in 2009 to fill two voids: the depression she dealt with while she was in the army and living in Hawaii, and there was no one who looked like her doing makeup the way she did on the platform," writes Kwarteng.
Soon, she was able to cultivate her community and address issues few creators were speaking about at the time. Aina made several viral videos calling out the lack of makeup shades available to Black and brown women, and pointing out the problems with practices like skin bleaching.
"But it can be burdensome, too," Kwarteng writes. "Because when everyone looks to her to speak on every single Black issue in the beauty space, she becomes the end all, be all."
Her story also acknowledges the criticisms she's received over the years because of her commercial success. People online have felt that she's lost touch with her roots. To that, Aina told the author she thinks it's an unfair standard Black women are held to.
"I feel like it’s only with Black women, that when we start leveling up and doing nice things for ourselves that people have a problem with it,” she said.
You can read the full story here.
Correction: The story on Jackie Aina is a digital feature. A previous version misstated that it was the magazine's digital cover story.