youtuber lexie lombard's unfiltered take on taboo topics
She reports on what high schoolers actually wear, as well as the more intimate and taboo topics facing teens.
Lexie Lombard, a New York-based YouTube personality, was only sixteen when a manager reached out and suggested she take her beauty tutorials to the professional level. "My mom was like, 'Lexie, that's not real! No one wants to manage you,'" Lombard recalls with a laugh. But what began as filming slumber party music videos in her small Virginia hometown has become an Internet career and platform for sincerity in a sometimes-unhealthy digital culture.
Following high school, Lombard deferred her college acceptances and moved to L.A. to became a full-time YouTuber. (She has since relocated to New York.) Though there was some trial-and-error, the bold decision paid off. Today, Lombard's channel has over 427K subscribers and features everything from vegan eating to Fashion Week vlogs and discussions on reproductive health and rape culture. The 20-year-old has created a platform with an intelligent yet accessible dialogue surrounding subjects not usually tackled in beauty and fashion - her What your mother doesn't tell you series, for example, sheds personal insight on private and sometimes stigmatized issues like masturbation and emotional health. She also looks at true youth street style with her series What high schoolers are ACTUALLY wearing.
Lexie Lombard's fun and inclusive content is a new brand of activism using authenticity and transparency to get its point across. Below, i-D sat down with Lombard to discuss sexual education, youth culture, and her vision for mainstream media.
What is the day-to-day life of a professional YouTuber?
I love editing and I also like being in front of the camera. I do everything, and it's really a creative outlet for me. But I'm not sure YouTuber as a sole occupation should be my thing - I don't think it's the healthiest thing for me to do. What I've learned from being a YouTuber is that I want to make sure I always have something else with me that's giving me inspiration.
I just moved to New York and I started taking a class at Borough of Manhattan Community College because I have extra time. I'm also starting an internship with Milk Makeup.
Are there other YouTube or Internet personalities you follow yourself?
I'll go through phases, but I'm not as involved with the YouTube community as I feel a lot of other YouTubers are. It can be a negative thing if you get too consumed with the community, because then you become a really niche personality. There's a whole YouTube culture within that, and I would rather have anyone want to watch my videos as opposed to that specific YouTube personality. And I think that's because I never was that specific YouTube personality - I want to appeal to the college girl, or the girl taking the gap year, or the guy who I met at the Envision Presidential Inauguration Leadership summit.
Your series What high schoolers are ACTUALLY wearing is such a refreshing look into youth culture and style. How did that series start for you?
I'm so proud of that series - it's so pure, and it's one of my favorite things on my channel. It started because my manager was asking me what videos I was going to post for back to school season. I'm not in college, and I've already graduated high school, so it just wasn't relevant to me.
So, we ended up just going to Hollywood High School in L.A. and asking high schoolers what they were wearing. Editing and filming the video was so much fun. Interacting with those high schoolers, you see they haven't had a chance to express themselves all day. I know some of the kids I was talking to were probably the kids that were sleeping through all their classes, just trying to get home. But then you put a camera in front of them and ask them a few questions, they suddenly light up and are so ready to talk to you.
In my Portland video, there was a 14-year-old girl who was talking about how she only shops second-hand because she feels guilty about her ecological footprint. If I knew that at that age, I would be so ahead of the game! I'm so happy that there are young voices spreading messages like that and I'm happy to be the platform for it.
Which topics other than style are you exploring with your platform?
I really want to get into sexual education. I'm from Virginia, and what happened for us was that someone from the local church came in and they gave us the abstinence talk. The thing is, kids are having sex. If we don't teach them how to do it safely, there's a higher rate of teen pregnancy, there's a higher rate of STDs. I think boys and girls need a consent talk. I remember in school when they gave boys the "masturbation talk," us girls were pulled into another room and we got the "deodorant talk" - is that even a talk? I even wrote a masturbation article for The Messy Heads magazine.
Reproductive health is something you've also talked about on YouTube, which aside from sexual education is really directed towards young women. What inspired you to do What your mother doesn't tell you about periods and birth control?
I've had a terrible period and there's just not any information online that I ever have gotten that has helped me. My parents also never gave me a sex talk and avoided a lot of topics, and I'm an only child, so I've never had an older sister or brother figure to tell me those things as well. So I want to be that voice because I didn't have anyone do that for me, and I want to be that voice for other people. A lot of people look up to YouTubers like older siblings or role models. I want to make sure that I'm giving the type of advice that I want to be getting.
The topics of sexual education and reproductive health are inadvertently political. Do you consider yourself a political person?
I don't want to be considered political because I want my knowledge to be the average. I want everyone to be at least a little informed as citizens. I don't think that the things that I feel or think about should be considered as being heavily involved [in these issues]- I think everyone should be involved on that level.
What kind of direction do you want to see lifestyle media and vlogging go in the future?
The media that I grew up on is not media that I would want my child growing up on. It was so white washed, narrow-minded, and shallow. I want to be a part of a new media - I want to change what people are being exposed to. You can't get to deeper topics on sex ed if you're still too uncomfortable to talk about a condom. And how can your truly talk about falling deeply in love with someone and having meaningful sex if you can't even say the word condom? Let's just break that little barrier so we can get on to bigger things.
Even in beauty media, I love how companies like Milk Makeup are using androgynous looks, people with gaps and freckles, and generally unconventional beauty [in their campaigns]. Uniqueness is becoming trendy and I like that.
What can we expect from you in 2017?
For the future, I want to do seasonal meet-ups with my subscribers - who are generally between 18 and 24 years old - so I can get a feel for what's going on with them. The audience I've curated in the past year in a half is amazing. I've been thinking about turning my What your mother doesn't tell you series into a podcast and bring in different guests like experts. I want to do more merchandise. I want to get into public speaking.
Text Braudie Blais-Billie
Photography still from YouTube