How Makeup and Drag Helped Me Find Myself and My Community
If you had asked me about makeup before 2016, all I could tell you is “Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline.” I would have never in a million years believed you, if you had said that I would own one of the few Black Trans-owned makeup lines. I started this company out of nothing more than love and the desire to provide something to my community that I wish I had had when I was discovering my queerness and transness, something that affirms who I am in all my complexities.
That’s why every color’s name is something to help brighten your day and remind you that queerness and transness is a gift and something that should be celebrated! I wish I had something that felt like it was there to give you more than just a recoup on your money when I was starting makeup. This palette is meant to give you more than just gorgeous eyelids or cheeks (I use it as my contour too!), but to give you a reminder that you’re valuable and that you deserve to acknowledge that value.
I wish I could have seen a Black Trans woman’s face on makeup when I was a kid; maybe I wouldn’t have thought me starting my own makeup wasn’t a farfetched idea. You see, when I was growing up, my mother wasn’t the type of woman who wore a lot of makeup. At the most she would put on a beautiful deep red lipstick, twirl on some mascara, and put her hair into a tight ponytail for a night on the town.
So I would just stare at the beautiful packaging and photos in Macy’s while she shopped for her favorite brand of lip varnish. The first time I ever witnessed someone truly BEATING their face was watching a drag queen paint on her face during a lip sync performance. I watched her start bare faced and after 5 minutes of “I am what I am” from La Cage, she finished, looking ready for the cover of a magazine. I was entranced.
Watching the slow methodical process of transforming your face from one to another fascinated me more than anything I’d ever seen before. Seeing her get to bring her cheekbones forward with the swipe of contour and turn her straight nose into a button nose with the flick of a brush was like magic to me. It was at that moment that I knew there was a place for me in the drag community. It was the embodiment of what pride means to me — getting to fulfill and live out the life you want for yourself. Getting to love, embrace, and honor who you are by being yourself and fiercely and ferociously as possible. Watching that queen on stage, for the first time I thought I’d found what could be MY part of the community. Little did I know, I’d truly found myself.
It was through doing drag, but specifically makeup, that I discovered and became comfortable with my transness. Drag was my opportunity for me to get in touch with a side of myself society had taught me that I should shame, but make up was what made me realize I wasn’t just performing on the stage, I was accessing my truest self. I still remember the nights where the only thing I wanted was to leave my face on and wake up to still see it there, it was my only access to people acknowledging me as the woman I am. Until the day I took out a makeup palette and did my makeup to go to the bank and deposit $150 in singles, and that’s what the power of makeup has done for me.
It has been my armor when I have needed to face some of the most difficult challenges, but also a friend that embraces me when I need it at my darkest. So to know that there are Black queer and trans youth like me, getting to discover who they are with my makeup feels like a full circle journey. So while I would have been surprised if you’d told me years ago that I’d have started my own makeup line, but I would be grinning ear to ear to know that I created something that holds the door open for the next generation of queer and trans youth.
With Joy and Love
Junior Mintt is a drag artist, Business Owner, and motivational speaker based in Brooklyn, She is a proud Black Transwoman out to show how Minty the world can be with a little kindness, empathy, and a strong Black, Trans, Queer perspective. She is the creator of Mintty Makeup, one of the first Black Trans Makeup lines. Mintty Makeup has been featured in Buzzfeed, Paper Magazine, and Vogue Beauty. She’s been featured in Vogue, The CUT, ID, and Gayletter for the work she does not only on the stage, but also in the community. She’s a cohost of the Brooklyn Liberation March. She’s the creator and producer of “In Living Color,” a drag variety show operating for two years, showcasing the talents of the Black, Brown, and Trans community members. Junior Mintt has brought to life her message of Black Transpower through getting to speak and co-host the Brooklyn Liberation March, through her comedic and thought-provoking drag performances at Bushwig Drag Festival, through her mentoring teen and young artists through the Brooklyn Arts Exchange, through her performing stand up at Chelsea Music Hall, through walking the fashion show in Susanna Bartsch’s Love Ball, and speaking and performing for the Gibney Theater. But no matter what stage or what classroom, stage, or runways, when you see Junior Mintt, you’ll leave feeling motivated and embraced.