The multi-hyphenate drag artist on identity, embracing your inner child, and showing your best self to the world.
- Written by:
- TANNER RILEY
In celebration of diversity, individuality, love, gender expansiveness, self-expression, and Pride, VIOLET GREY spotlights the LGBTQIA+ creatives and activists who inspire us.
Gigi Goode was a standout star of the twelfth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and came to be adored by fans for bringing fashion, beauty, and self-love to the show’s main stage. Deeply connected with the inner voice that first called her to braid classmates’ hair on the playground, she now hears that same voice cheering as she achieves milestones like walking in Rihanna’s Savage Fenty runway show, appearing in Sam Smith’s I’m Ready music video, and performing in Hulu’s recent Drag Me to Dinner special. In conversation with VIOLET GREY, Goode explains the power of support and confidence in being able to live authentically, and opens up about her experience as a transgender woman.
VIOLET GREY: How would you describe your relationship to beauty products and the idea of beauty growing up?
GIGI GOODE: Beauty has been a part of my life since the day I first opened my eyes. I’ve always loved makeup, fashion, and especially hair. Since the age of four or five, if someone around me had hair, I was braiding it. I used to get in trouble in school for playing with the girls’ hair instead of doing my class work.
VG: Did you always feel like you could fully express yourself? Style, gender expression, verbally, and otherwise?
GG: I am so insanely lucky to have the mother that I have. She’s never questioned anything about me or about the way I wanted to present, and she made a great model for me to practice hair on. I can’t say I haven’t received any hate from other outside sources, because I have for my entire life, but I can say that I have never once cared about what people think of me.
VG: Can you recall a beauty look where you felt most like yourself? What was it, and where were you going?
GG: The first time I put makeup on after having my facial feminization surgery, I stared at myself in the mirror so long that I was late to a function that night. It unlocked a new sense of self that I hadn’t felt before.
VG: Is beauty and makeup (or the absence of it) important to you for gender euphoria or expression?
GG: I have gender dysphoria all the time, and it’s a nasty little beast. But, I do find a lot of euphoria in the getting-ready process, and of course, the final look. It makes me stand up a little straighter and feel so much more comfortable in my skin.
VG: Who are your beauty idols, and how have they impacted your self-expression?
GG: Mathu Andersen is one of the greatest hair and makeup artists of all time. He’s mainly known for doing RuPaul’s hair and makeup, but he was responsible for some iconic beauty moments in pop culture. He has a way of being so carefree and imprecise throughout the entire process that it ends up coming together flawlessly at the last second.
VG: How do you think representation and diversity have changed in the beauty industry since you were young?
GG: I didn’t even know there was a beauty industry until years after I started playing with makeup. All I knew was Ben Nye and M·A·C—which, I think, was the first actual makeup brand to publicly support queer people in a big way with the Viva Glam campaign. But it wasn’t until YouTube came around that all the beauty boys started making videos and showcasing a whole new conversation around self-expression.
VG: What do you think the beauty industry could do better?
GG: I actually think the beauty industry is doing pretty well. These brands do show up for our community a lot. There are big names putting on drag brunches, marching in pride parades, participating in queer fundraising, and I only see more and more of it each year. Obviously, there are plenty of little things they can work on, along with every other industry, but all things considered they’re definitely on our side.
VG: What is the biggest challenge facing the LGBTQIA+ community today?
GG: Ignorance and unjustified hatred. The people who hate us either don’t know anything about us, or have their own personal traumas that they’re projecting. It’s costing our people their overall safety and in a lot of cases, their lives. It’s in the hands of our allies who have a voice that the other side will actually listen to.