In the wake of renewed discussions about beauty, beauty competitions and just what purpose both those things serve, teenAGE Observer caught up with 19-year-old self-taught make-up artist, dancer and university student Venus Nixon. What we discovered about beauty and beauty ideologies both delighted and challenged us. Read below for tidbits from our candid conversation on sweat, glam, money and 'pretty dunces'.
teenAGE: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Venus Nixon: I'm studying social work right now, so I'll be a social worker. But I just want to help people, so anything that involves helping people.
teenAGE: What's your beauty origin story?
Venus Nixon: Watching YouTube videos; I started watching a few I liked and then there were other ones suggested and then I just fell into a rabbit hole of videos. I was 15 years old and in third form when I started doing that.
teenAGE: How did you make the switch from watching makeup videos and playing around with brushes and makeup at home to doing business?
Venus Nixon: The time and money I invested in it motivated me [to make the switch]. Once you love something and start investing in it you expect it to reward you in some way, and from what I was seeing everyone was getting into makeup even if they weren't all that great at it, so I thought why underestimate myself when I know I'm good at it? That's how I decided to do it seriously.
teenAGE: Would you, then, say that other persons shouldn't doubt themselves about going into fairly saturated fields?
Venus Nixon: Go for it. Once you have a passion for something, that will drive consistency and once you're consistent, you'll be successful.
teenAGE: Grow up or glow up?
Venus Nixon: Can I say both? Both.
teenAGE: Beauty with a purpose or beauty just because?
Venus Nixon: Beauty just because. Beauty with a purpose is using your beauty to do something great in the world [and that's cool], but you don't have to do anything great; you should feel beautiful regardless.
teenAGE: What's your favourite makeup trend?
Venus Nixon: Contour and baking. Those two are lifesavers.
teenAGE: We tend to have complex relationships with beauty. Why?
Venus Nixon: I'd say it's because we're often trying to meet someone else's standard of beauty. We try to look like others and end up in a cycle of comparing ourselves to others and we don't give much thought to our comfort, what fits us best and what we actually like. But beauty isn't about comparison.
teenAGE: You're also a dancer. When did you start dancing?
Venus Nixon: I started dancing at about three years old but only started dancing seriously in first form, after I had taken a break from dancing for a while.
teenAGE: And now you dance full-time, that's cool! What's your favourite genre of dance?
Venus Nixon: Folk. I love Jamaican folk and African folk.
teenAGE: You have pretty varied interests, any of which, by themselves could take a toll on your time. How do you manage your time?
Venus Nixon: Can I come back to you on that? (Laughs)
teenAGE: Would you describe yourself as a tomboy or a girly girl?
Venus Nixon: I'm a girly girl and everyone knows it.
teenAGE: As a dancer and a makeup enthusiast do you find that persons sometimes presume you're not a person of substance?
Venus Nixon: That happens sometimes and that definitely bothers me. Dancing isn't just about performing on stage, it's about discipline, dedication and determination. You have to keep pushing [in rehearsals] and you have to keep a good attitude. As for makeup, it's hard being self -taught. It looks easy when you watch other persons do it but it's hard.
teenAGE: I wouldn't naturally pair dancing and make-up artistry together, since being glammed up and getting sweaty seem to be at odds. How do you fit the two together?
Venus Nixon: I think all my interests have made me well-rounded. Doing my degree in social work means I'm focused on helping people and I'm going to make a career of helping people - that's inner beauty. That means I'm not just beautiful on the outside. I plan on working with children and I find that younger persons like dance and like makeup, so I'll find a way to incorporate my interests into social work so I can engage children.
teenAGE: Are beauty pageants out dated or do they have a place in modern society?
Venus Nixon: Beauty pageants aren't out dated, because they have changed with time and have become more inclusive (of women that look like me). I also think it's important for 'girly girls' to have something of their own.
teenAGE: Pretty dunces: reality or myth? Is it fair to label anyone a pretty dunce?
Venus Nixon: I can't say whether 'pretty dunces' are a reality or a myth. But it definitely isn't fair to label anyone as such. Just as one may put effort into their academics, figuring that their looks or their talent mightn't get them where they want to go, that's what happens when a pretty girl might decide to focus her efforts on her appearance. There's not only one way to succeed in life.
teenAGE: What are your thoughts on pretty privilege?
Venus Nixon: Pretty privilege is real, but if you're blessed genetically or you put in the work to look the way you do it's not your fault you enjoy certain privileges. It's up to others not treat others differently because of the way they look.
Venus Nixon is nineteen years old and a self-taught make-up artist intent on carving out a space for herself in the beauty market. The former Ardennite and future social worker is a professional dancer at Deh Jah Dance Theatre. Follow Venus on Instagram at @planet._.beauty.