Photography Noah Dake

what does beauty mean when you're transitioning?

i-D asked young people around America for their views on beauty now. Here, Jamie Chamberlain talks i-D through her beauty journey.

by i-D Staff
Dec 19 2018, 3:21pm

Photography Noah Dake

i-D asked our readers for their point of view on modern beauty. Here, Jamie Chamberlain shares her story.


Jamie Chamberlain, 21, Rochester, NY
As a woman who is transgender, to covet the meaning of beauty today is an emotional and individualistic experience. Being immersed in the modern beauty industry, I have found peace in that very few women look like me or live like me. My meaning of beauty stems from the celebration of self-care and choosing beauty products that aid in the emotional process of becoming a woman in today's world.

What does beauty mean to you?
Confidence. I want my meaning of beauty to partially move away from what is pleasing to the eye. Adhering to beauty ideals before finding my footing as a woman can be damaging. For my sake, beauty boils down to creating rituals that make me feel safe and secure. Confidence is contagiously beautiful and it cannot be felt without an initial sense of security.

How would you describe your beauty routine?
Emotional for starters. Somedays it can be harder to walk out of the door than others. Walking outside, I meet the stares of people who may not see my life as valid as their own. I treat my skincare and makeup like war paint so I can be brave and feel beautiful. In the morning, I make sure to cleanse and tone with energizing products that have citrus scents, like Mario Badescu's enzyme gel cleanser. I nourish my skin with serums like Vitamin C that make me glow, this way I can glow in front of the mirror and shine in the streets. The routines I use and the products I choose boost me for whatever I may face that day.


What is the most important part of your beauty routine?
Exfoliation, all the way. Exfoliating with microdermabrasion and products like Biologique p50 are crucial to helping skin cells turn over and fight breakouts wherever I shave. Facial hair truly impacts my sense of confidence and exfoliation is a ritual I will always use to maintain that feeling of beauty.

Being a trans woman, shaving unwanted facial hair comes part-and-parcel with the beauty experience. Laser hair removal is used to treat unwanted facial hair, yet not everyone can afford it, and its success rates vary depending on hair type. Shaving daily is a reality that many women like me face and I strongly believe it should be more exposed to the beauty world. In this industry, we are only just beginning to see woman shave real body hair in advertisements. The women's razor 2018 campaign "Project Body Hair" by Billie, was the first time I had seen real women show real body hair on camera. I would like to keep the momentum of the campaign going for all women.

What makes your vision of beauty so special?
It's completely for me. I mean, if I look good you will definitely see me serving looks on Instagram. My vision of beauty correlates to my beauty routines in that it is to benefit my physical and emotional well being. Being said, the beauty products I use are intentional to the moods I want to emulate that day. Dewy skin, a touch of blush and some bushy eyebrows make me feel unstoppable on my most horrible of days.


Are there times when you find yourself re-centering your idea of beauty?
Absolutely. For a woman who is transitioning, there is a lot of time spent looking at yourself in the mirror and after a long day, it can be easy to pick at your imperfections. Making time for self-care helps me create a kinder and more positive headspace for my outlook on beauty. I have been on Hormone Replacement Therapy for a few months now and I'm finally seeing results. My body is changing slowly, there are times when I look in the mirror and can finally see physical changes in my face. It's quite emotional. Whatever turmoil I experience that day I can always recenter myself with rich facial creams and scents of lavender.

Do you see your take on today's meaning of beauty changing in the future?
I see my current notion of beauty evolving as I do. I experience so many firsts in my life with being a transgender woman and will continue to do so. For today, I will empower myself through rituals that make me feel beautiful. Through that, I can see my concept of beauty only growing wider with time. As a Taurus, I see my meaning of beauty getting much more expensive.

Processed with VSCO with au5 preset


Photography Noah Dake

Text Jamie Chamberlain