A YouTuber tired of seeing beauty gurus create offensive ‘Native-inspired’ make-up tutorials has created her own clever spoof to highlight exactly why the tone-deaf videos are problematic.
J.J. Smith, 21, shared the clip earlier this month after one of her subscribers asked her to address the topic.
Make-up tutorials that claim to be ‘inspired’ by Native culture pop up year-round, but Smith, who goes by Sailor J on YouTube, felt that the subject was especially relevant in the lead up to Thanksgiving.
Speaking out: J.J. Smith, 21, was tired of seeing beauty gurus create offensive ‘Native-inspired’ make-up tutorials and has created her own clever spoof
Irony: ‘The Natives didn’t wear false eyelashes,’ Smith said while putting on her own set of lashes, ‘but we’re just going to add them, because we’re cherry-picking here’
The Florida-based student, video creator and wrestler began her video by stating: ‘I’s November.
‘Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means a plethora of white women are going to go on YouTube with their pretty faces and their pretty f*****g make-up and they’re going to call it native-inspired, which is wrong’.
Smith, who told AJ+ she feels like she benefit from being ‘pretty racially ambiguous’ because people listen to her more than they would listen to her more than they would a darker-skinned person, isn’t Native American herself, but has denounced cultural appropriation of all types on social media.
The content creator ironically stated that she decided to base her make-up look on the face paint worn by a character in Disney’s Pocahontas, because ‘Disney is so f*****g accurate in its cultural depictions’.
‘The Natives didn’t wear false eyelashes,’ she said while putting on her own set of lashes, ‘but we’re just going to add them, because we’re cherry-picking here. It’s what we did with the rest of their culture. It’s what we do with everybody else’s, isn’t it?’
Then, Smith applied white eye-liner on the inside rim of her eye, a trick to make the eyes look larger.
Spoof: Then, Smith applied white eye-liner on the inside rim of her eye, a trick to make the eyes look larger, stating that she wanted hers to appear ‘wide with terror’
Message: She also scribbled ‘NO DAPL’ for ‘NO Dakota Access Pipeline’ across her cheeks in what she said was a ‘subliminal’ statement
Accessories: While many creators of ‘Native-inspired’ tutorials wear a headdress with feathers—a move especially regarded as tone-deaf—Smith opted for a fall wreath instead
Inspiration: Smith ironically stated that she decided to base her make-up look on the face paint worn by a character in Disney’s Pocahontas, because it is so ‘f*****g accurate’
‘We want our eyes to look bigger like they’re wide with terror,’ she added. ‘It’s all about subtlety. Because colonizers love it when you look afraid.’
In addition, she applied a ‘nice burgundy’ lipstick, ‘because it’s the color of blood’, and bright blue triangles under her eyes, which she joked was a ‘so subtle’ color.
Using the same product, she created additional designs on her forehead and chin, all while whispering statements such as ‘Pocahontas was kidnapped’ and singing bits of songs from the animated movie.
She also scribbled ‘NO DAPL’ for ‘NO Dakota Access Pipeline’ across her cheeks in what she said was a ‘subliminal’ message, in reference to the 1,172-mile pipeline that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said threatened sites of important historic, religious, and cultural significance.
While many beauty gurus who decide to do ‘Native-inspired’ tutorials wear a headdress with feathers—a move especially regarded as tone-deaf—Smith opted to revert the trend by donning a fall wreath instead.
‘I knit this flower crown myself, I call it fall harvest by Walmart,’ she joked.
Tone-deaf: While Smith didn’t specifically point out other video creators, YouTube is full of tutorials such as this Halloween one, presented as an ‘Aztec-inspired’ look
Backlash: Videos such as this one, which Smith didn’t personally refer to but which is branded as a ‘tribe make-up tutorial’ typically gather many comments calling them offensive
Important: Smith (pictured) stated that one of her subscribers asked her to address the topic, and pointed out several ways in which those who want to support Native Americans can do so
Later in the video, Smith relayed remarks from one of her first subscribers, Emma, who asked Smith to address this specific issue.
Emma offered her own guidelines on how not to misappropriate Native culture, writing: ‘Do your face paint, just don’t call it Native.’
She also pointed out that those wanting to support Native-Americans can do so by shopping at their businesses and reading up on their culture and history.
She then addresses actual ways you can show support to Native Americans, such as supporting their businesses, buying Native-made things, and also just educating yourself on the history of their culture.
‘There’s nothing wrong with celebrating Thanksgiving, just know what you’re celebrating and maybe use the day to reflect on the fact that you don’t have to deal with the s**t that Native Americans do,’ Smith added.
The YouTuber told AJ+ that some have told her to stop discussing race if she wants her channel to keep gathering more viewers, but said such a move would be ‘ridiculously selfish’.
‘Thanksgiving is a nationwide holiday,’ she added, ‘but what a lot of people don’t consider is, for so many Native Americans, it’s a day of mourning. The entire nation is celebrating the slaughter of your people and the colonization of your land.’