TikTok has quickly become the go-to platform for all things beauty. With trends like the “clean girl makeup look” and “slugging” filling our “For You” pages, beauty lovers are inspired to level up their routines. As a result, #BeautyTikTok is evolving rapidly with new beauty hacks and influencers rising every day, making groundbreaking impacts on their community. TikTok seems to be the “perfect platform” for beauty influencers to grow, yet there’s still a wide gap for creatives of color, and Black creatives, in particular, to be seen.
Black creatives have been vocal about the recent inequalities on the platform. There has been a clear gap between exposure and opportunity from the algorithm for brand deals. There have also been unfortunate cases of content being stolen from Black creatives without any credit or recognition. As a creative myself, there have been times when I’ve felt like I had to put in more effort than my counterparts just to be noticed and when I've had to advocate for myself in order to be paid my worth. However, I love my community, so I continue to push forward and create, an adage many creatives of color live by.
In an effort to shed light on the Black content creators in the TikTok space, xoNecole chatted with five Black beauty TikTokers about their journey and experiences in the social media landscape.
Finding Your Voice and Pushing Forward
Victoria Azubuike, Beauty and Lifestyle Content Creator
Courtesy of Victoria Azubuike
“My growth as a content creator has been prolonged, and then it dramatically increased recently. I’ve recently understood my voice on TikTok and Instagram and what I want to convey to my audience. I dabbled in a few niches when I first started - mainly fashion and motivational content. Now, I’ve finally learned how to show up for myself and the community I serve. There’s no such thing as an overnight success. This journey is years of trying and sometimes feeling like giving up, there was a point I wanted to quit Instagram, as I just wasn't seeing the results... Then things finally changed. Thankfully, I found my voice.
There’s no such thing as an overnight success. This journey is years of trying and sometimes feeling like giving up, there was a point I wanted to quit Instagram, as I just wasn't seeing the results... Then things finally changed.
"I'm learning to show up as my authentic self daily, and share elements of my journey with my community. I'm learning loads, it's a process and reminding myself not to overthink certain things and think about what I would want/need to hear from somebody else. It’s not easy. However, I’m learning it’s important to still show up as my authentic self. I used to use many filters, and this year, I decided to show up as I am - even with a pimple on my face. Through time I’ve realized people respect that more. My community wants to hear from me, the content creator, and that doesn’t always mean showing up with makeup or being perfect. I’m very grateful for my community. They inspire me to push through and show up no matter my challenges."
Representation and Unity
Damilola Adejonwo, Beauty Content Creator
Courtesy of Damilola Adejonwo
"My journey as a content creator has been incredible, but at the same time, it has come with a lot of responsibility. Due to the racial climate, I always take it upon myself to show people how to respect me as a gay and Black man. Content and representation are important because they show who we are and where we come from. I want to show people that there are people who are gay, Black, and wear makeup. It’s so important to see that. I’m happy that I can show that side of myself. Although it has been a good journey for me, I think we have a lot more to do to feel fully included.
"Whenever you’re honest about your path, it’s always hard. I’ve been through so much in my life, but creating has been so therapeutic for me. Talking to the camera and sharing my story has helped many other people and me. The process allowed me to heal and have the career I have today.
Whenever you’re honest about your path, it’s always hard. I’ve been through so much in my life, but creating has been so therapeutic for me. Talking to the camera and sharing my story has helped many other people and me. The process allowed me to heal and have the career I have today.
"Believing in myself is what helped me overcome my challenges and build community. However, what I learned through that is to take time for myself. Mental health and taking a break are so important. Especially if I want to be the change, I also have to be the action. Remember to take breaks, be inspired, and know what needs to change in our community. In my community, I feel like we’re not always included, so now I make it my responsibility to include everyone for us to be unified. If I don’t take that action, other people won’t either."
Staying Positive and Being True to Yourself
Brinkley, Natural Hair Content Creator
Courtesy of Brinkley
"In the beginning, being a content creator felt easy and came out of nowhere for me. As I put in more work, I felt like I had seen less engagement. I know it’s because I am a creator of color. These days I see those who aren't part of our community do less and blow up because TikTok is showing their content. However, Black creators are constantly getting shadowbanned or not ending up on the #ForYouPage. I have over 200,000 followers, and I’m only getting 1,000 views - something is not adding up. At some point, It was disheartening, and I thought about quitting because I was putting in so much work. I can’t give up on my online community.
"Being a hair content creator, representation is important. People want to see people who look like them. I’ve realized there aren’t many people who look like me on the platform, which explains the lack of views I’m receiving. If my beauty content gets pushed out to a white audience, it will probably not do well because the relatability isn’t there.
Being a hair content creator, representation is important. People want to see people who look like them. I’ve realized there aren’t many people who look like me on the platform, which explains the lack of views I’m receiving. If my beauty content gets pushed out to a white audience, it will probably not do well because the relatability isn’t there.
"My biggest challenge has been staying positive. There are times when I do get discouraged or receive hate comments that make me feel like giving up. These are the moments when it’s important to remember who you are and not let anyone’s opinions define you. The biggest lesson has been staying true to myself. When you’re true to yourself, you can be proud of what you accomplish."
Focusing on Your Joy and What You Can Control
Alyssa Francois, Beauty + Lifestyle Influencer
Courtesy of Alyssa Francois
"My journey as a content creator has been one of the most rewarding experiences, and I'm not referring to money. Being able to cultivate a community, learn from them and offer them value is one of the best feelings. However, so many challenges come with being a content creator of color. It often feels like I have to be working 1000 times harder to get the credit or pay I deserve from brands that reach out to partner with me. This could be discouraging, but I do my best to focus on what I can control. What is in my control is making sure the content I share about healing is inspiring, educational, enjoyable, attainable, and something one looks forward to doing because healing can be ugly at times.
What is in my control is making sure the content I share about healing is inspiring, educational, enjoyable, attainable, and something one looks forward to doing because healing can be ugly at times.
"After being diagnosed with endometriosis in 2021, I embarked on a holistic healing journey because I've learned that healing goes beyond the food on your plate and medications. Taking my community on my holistic healing journey has also helped me find new ways to become and feel beautiful from the inside first. I felt that I was making a positive impact as a Black content creator when women of all walks of life reached out to me, thanking me for sharing my endometriosis journey.
"I didn't know that simply opening up more about my autoimmune disease would be interesting to my community. Being a content creator and sharing my journey to help others brings me so much joy, and I want to make sure it continuously feels this way for me."
The Power of Pivoting and Being the Change You Want To See
Trennei Adams, Beauty Influencer
Courtesy of Trennei Adams
"As a woman of color who hasn’t been in this industry very long, my experience has been great! I love the community I’ve built and continue to grow. However, I felt a lack when building a true community on TikTok. I decided to pivot over to Instagram, started taking it seriously, and posting consistently. That’s when my community started to build and form. Something about Instagram feels more intimate to me; it has now become my main platform.
"I realized I was making more of an impact on Instagram as the messages would come through. Women were thanking me for inspiring them and being transparent. Those messages mean the world to me. People are drawn to what they relate to.More than anything, I believe the world needs more kind souls. Society has made it to where it’s rare to be both kind and attractive. I am here to show that you can be both.
People are drawn to what they relate to. More than anything, I believe the world needs more kind souls. Society has made it to where it’s rare to be both kind and attractive. I am here to show that you can be both.
"I’m unapologetic about being the change I want to see. I want to see more women cheering other women on. I want vulnerability. I want to see women evolving and stepping into their power, loving themselves fiercely and confidently while also holding space for the woman next to them!
"I want young Black girls to see that whatever they want to achieve in this lifetime is possible. You can be poised, classy, well-spoken, kind, educated, have nice things, go to therapy, etc. I want that to be normal for us Black women and not a shock! My platform exudes the change I would like to see more of."
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Featured image courtesy of Trennei Adams
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7 Sex-Related Problems That Ruin Sex (And Possibly Your Relationship)
Not too long ago, while in an interview, someone asked me to define one of the main purposes of sex in a long-term relationship: “Probably the most intimate form of communication that we have is sex because it’s an act that connects one’s physical, mental and emotional state to another human being simultaneously — and communication doesn’t get much more profound than that.”
That’s part of the reason why the term “casual sex” irks me to the billionth degree (check out “We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'”); it’s because, even if you think that sex with someone is next-to-nothing, there is so much going on within you (oxytocin highs, if you’re unprotected, fluid bonding, chemical reactions in your brain, etc.) that doesn’t know if someone is “the one” (in your mind) or not. So, in many ways, it acts like they are (check out this YouTube video from a Catholic woman who studies some unexpected ways that sex affects us physically here; sex goes deep, y’all!).
Yeah, sex is so much more than a notion, and that’s why I’m a firm believer that it is such a barometer for long-term relationships overall — because, as I’ve shared before, I once read that, “Good sex in a relationship is 10 percent of the relationship while bad sex in a relationship is 90 percent of the relationship because sex tends to set the tone for what’s happening in the rest of the house.”
And that’s why I think that there are certain sex-related issues that can not only damage your sex life with your partner but could also end up ruining your relationship if you’re not careful (very careful). Let’s get into seven of them now.
1. Being Unaware of Your “Body Clock”Giphy
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who’ve come to me in some serious trouble, in part due to their flailing (or partly nonexistent) sex life. When I ask them if they went to premarital counseling (if you’re engaged, please do; you have a 33 percent greater chance of avoiding divorce when counseling transpires), many say “no” and the ones who say “yes” usually say that it was no more than 3-5 sessions and the topic of sex barely came up (le sigh). Meanwhile, with my premarital meetings, I try and stick with intimacy for three months if I can because there is a lot to unpack, from what you learned as a child, to your first time (or if you are a virgin), to your needs and fantasies, to how you see it from a spiritual perspective — like I said, there is a lot to unpack there.
Take the mere practicality of sex, for example — and more specifically, your body clock. Do you prefer to have sex at night or in the daytime? A lot of couples struggle with intimacy because one prefers the former while the other likes the latter. Do you keep track of when you’re ovulating? It’s pure science why you are probably hornier during that time of the month (because your body is signaling that it’s time to conceive) vs. the fact that you might not be the most interested in sex when you’re PMS’ing. Are you premenopausal? Hormones shift a lot during that time, and here’s the thing — while menopause only lasts a year, the premenopausal stage (which typically starts between 45-55) can last between 7-14 years. Even paying attention to when you have more energy (some do in the day…morning sex, anyone? While others do early in the evening) can play a role.
So yeah, getting to know your body clock (and discussing your partner’s clock with them) can play a role in how much — or how little — sex you have…and that can add life or drain it from the relationship overall.
2. Comparing Your Present with Your PastGiphy
There is a wife of almost 20 years I know who, when I asked her if she thought that her husband was good in bed, she paused for a second, shrugged her shoulders, and simply said, “I was a virgin when I got married, so I have nothing to compare him to. I mean, he’s good to me.” On the flip side, there’s a now divorced couple who I also know (who almost made it to 20 years) who had multiple partners before each other while also having a deep interest in porn who once said to me, “Sometimes, there’s as much as 15 people in our bed because of all of the people from our past and the porn that we’ve seen that’s running through our heads.” Yeah, y’all can act like body counts don’t matter, but there is so much evidence out here that says otherwise — that couple just gave one that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should.
You know, one of my favorite throwback shows is King of Queens (Kevin James, Leah Remini). A few weeks ago, I watched a rerun where Doug and Carrie were talking about the images that come up in their minds, sometimes during sex. Neither was too happy about it, and I can totally see why. I mean, if sex was just about “getting off” (and it’s not), then whatever. However, AGAIN, it’s also about connecting with your partner on a mental and emotional level, and that’s hard to do if you’re there with them in the body while you’re fantasizing about a celebrity, a porn actor (porn is usually acting, don’t let it fool you) or an ex (check out “You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?”).
And what if that is what’s going on? I once spoke with a sex therapist about this very thing. What she said is people should be less concerned about celebs (if it’s on occasion) and more concerned about that ex because rarely is sex with an ex…just about the sex.
And that’s why this point made the list. If you’re physically with your partner and mentally or emotionally with your ex at the same time, please don’t ignore that. There are definitely some unresolved issues there that you need to work through, whether it’s with a therapist, counselor, or coach, a trusted friend (who won’t add fuel to the literal fire), or even with your ex — although you might want to run that by your partner first because…I’m pretty sure you’d want him to do that with/for you. RIGHT?
3. Not Being Clear About Your Sexual NeedsGiphy
Question — if someone were to walk up to you right now and ask you what your top seven sexual needs are, along with what your top five sexual dealbreakers are, would you be able to answer? It really is kind of wild how many people get upset with their partner for not being able to sexually satisfy them when even they can’t articulate what they need/require in order for that to happen. Yeah, it’s another article for another time about how many people UNREALISTICALLY (and yes, I am yelling it) think that someone loving them well means that they should be able to read their mind. Nope.
It truly can’t be said enough that sex — especially good sex — is about communication. Hmph. It makes me think about a clip that I saw from Tonight’s Conversation podcast (can’t find it at the moment; sorry) where a woman asked how she should tell her partner that he hasn’t been pleasing her, I believe she said for years. My first thought was if he doesn’t know that, she must be faking orgasms (more on that in a bit) which is not only lying — well, it is —, but it’s also pretty counterproductive because while he thinks that he’s “getting the job done,” she’s not fulfilled and resentment is setting in.
Please don’t let rom-coms (fiction) and social media (which is oftentimes fictitious) have you out here thinking that a good lover is someone you automatically gel with who knows exactly what to do; sometimes that is the case, and oftentimes it isn’t.
So, if the sex-related issue that you’re having in your relationship is that your sexual needs aren’t being met, first do you (and your partner) a favor by doing some sex journaling (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) so that you can tangibly see what those needs are and then plan time within the next week or so to pour a couple of glasses of wine, put on some 90s R&B and discuss with your partner what you need. Because actually, what a good lover is, is someone who listens and retains. This brings me to the next point.
4. Minimizing Your Partner’s Sexual NeedsGiphy
A husband once told that when he and his wife were in premarital counseling, something that he mentioned was a bona fide need was fellatio. According to him, his wife told both him and their counselor that she loved giving head. Fast forward to eight years of being in their union, and guess how many times that act went down? A measly four. FOUR TIMES (check out “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”).
It’s another message for another time, the amount of people who will “false advertise” during the dating stage in order to get to their goal of marriage. It’s also another message for another time how much that is a form of manipulation that tends to backfire in ways that the manipulator is oftentimes not prepared for.
For now, what I will say, is never think that just because something may not be a need for you that it isn’t a legitimate one for someone else. I mean, how would you feel if that’s how someone treated you? Yeah…exactly.
Yet that is just what happens in a lot of relationships, including when it comes to their bedroom. They will think that their needs should be met, hands down, yet when their partner comes with what’s important to them, all of a sudden, there is dismissiveness, nonchalance, and/or excuses — and how could that not rear its ugly head on so many levels?
Your partner’s sexual needs are essential, even if they are not your own. Never assume that you automatically know everything about them. Also, never assume that what worked two years ago is what will “scratch the itch” now. Hmph. Come to think of it, while you’re sipping on that wine and clearly articulating to him what turns you on, use that as an opportunity to ask him to return the favor. Listen with humility, receptiveness, and intent — the best kind of relationships process their partner’s needs with this kind of vibe…across the board.
5. Taking the “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” ApproachGiphy
Lazy lovers. When you hear that phrase, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If it’s someone who is just lying there during sex, that would certainly qualify; however, I’m actually speaking of a different kind of laziness here. Believe it or not, some synonyms for lazy include words like apathetic, inattentive, tired, passive (cough, cough), procrastinating, neglectful, and slacking. So yeah, if you and/or your partner can use any of these words to define what sex is consistently like between the two of you — red flag, red flag…RED FREAKIN’ FLAG.
Speaking of being passive, another potentially serious sex-related problem is taking on the attitude that if something ain’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. What I mean by that is, just because you know that getting on top and riding for exactly six-and-a-half minutes is what will get your partner off, that doesn’t mean that it should be your automatic go-to all of the damn time.
Why? Because. While a part of the fun of having sex is “reaching the peak,” another component that should never be underestimated is discovering new territory: trying new positions, creating a sex bucket list, taking (more) sexcations, playing sex-themed board games (put that phrase in Amazon or on Etsy’s site and go ham!)…you know, doing what will inspire creativity and deter either of you from becoming bored.
That said, a husband of 17 years once told me, “A man can be satisfied with the same woman. We just don’t want the same kind of sex with her.” Words to live by. Yes, indeed.
6. Using Sex as a Deflection or Coping MechanismGiphy
A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good” — and with good cause. Words cannot express how many divorced (or soon-to-be divorced) women have told me that a part of what kept them in their marriage, for as long as they stayed in it, was the fact that the sex with their husband was beyond amazing…even though so much other stuff completely and totally sucked. Hey, good sex isn’t a bad thing (c’mon now); however, if it’s the only real thing that’s keeping you with someone, it can turn out to be a toxic deflector.
The reason why I say that is the purpose of sex isn’t to make love; it’s to celebrate it. And if all you’re doing with your partner is f — king and fighting or avoiding issues by stripping down or thinking that sex will “make it all better,” all the while not really knowing what the problem/issue is or what needs to be done to get down to the root of it, that is using sex as a pacifier and again, that’s not what sex is designed to be. Sex doesn’t deserve the pressure of being the end-all to “fixing” ish.
So, if what’s transpiring in your relationship lately is very little talking and a whole lot of sexing, and then once the sex is over, something still feels “off,” that’s a good indication that you’re misusing sex on some level. Get out of the bed, put on a robe, and do some talking (preferably in a room other than the bedroom; leave that space for sex and sleep only as much as possible). Because remember — as much as the wives that I mentioned said that their husbands once had them climbing the walls, those men are still ex-husbands now. Bottom line, sex is good, yet when it comes to keeping a relationship together, it will never be enough. Again, it was never designed to be.
7. Faking ItGiphy
I will never be a fan of faking orgasms. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (we may be a lot of things, but “fake” isn’t really our style). Maybe it’s because I’m a very word-literal individual, and I know that fake means things like “prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent)” and “to conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive.” Or perhaps it’s because I don’t get how acting like you’re sexually fulfilled when you actually aren’t is doing anyone any good. Whatever it is, whenever a client (or someone in general because men fakealmost as much as women do) tells me that it’s something they do, I immediately find myself on a mission to shut that mess down (check out “Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP”). ALL THE WAY DOWN.
The main reason is that, regardless of if the motive is to hurry things along, not hurt your partner’s feelings, or it’s something more cryptic than that (cough, cough, some form of manipulation tactic), there’s no way around the fact that fakeness is tied to deception and deception is a word that should never be connected to a healthy sexual dynamic.
Besides, one could argue that faking is a form of deflection as well because…wouldn’t it be better to just get it all out in the open WHY you are doing it than to keep pretending when life is too short and great sex is too good to not get the absolute most out of it, as much as possible?
Besides, again, chances are that if you’re faking that you’re sexually pleased, you’re probably faking something else in your relationship (or situation), and how could that possibly be good, right, or beneficial?
Yeah, when it comes to being satisfied across the board, please don’t fake it. State your case in the way that you’d like to hear something said to you, and let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve got a good man, he’s gonna — no pun — rise to the occasion. If his ego can’t handle it, well…that’s something that you should find out sooner than later — when it comes to the bedroom and outside of it? Right? #shoyouright
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