As I rush to finish my lipstick, and realise it’s wonky, I wonder if Miss Fame will realise as I sit down to chat with her about her journey through beauty, how the industry has influenced her identity, and what the future holds for herself and her brand, Miss Fame Beauty. Speaking with Fame was a treat, but also a reintroduction to just how important beauty is for many queer folk in finding who they are, no matter what stage you’re at in your life.
“I arrived in Switzerland over a month ago and stayed with my husband in Zurich. He has family here in the countryside. Really to just take the time to reset and look at everything I’m doing now as a proper reset to evaluate what’s really important in my creative process. I’m looking to a healthier approach to my creation, taking care of myself and my family, it’s really important to me”.
“We have the power to redirect the narrative, even in an industry that has been pre-designed to hype an ‘it model’ of now.”
Miss Fame, known for her impeccable glamour and New York confidence, has been a staple within the beauty industry for decades. Her sharp instinct and snatched silhouette has become a staple across fashion weeks across the globe, and her beauty imprint is no different. With her own brand, Miss Fame Beauty now available on Amazon, and her new recharged and zen lifestyle taking centre stage, it’s a moment for calm and reflection. As a femme, gender non-conforming individual, her work within the industry and this moment of stillness has allowed her to reflect on what it’s like to exist as a non-cis person within the rat race of fashion and beauty.
“There’s a sense of competition that happens. The whole world has been competing, fighting for a place at the table… But at the same time we’re watching the sensationalization of gender non-conformity. Often it’s just hyping one person rather than a group, and everybody beneath is like ‘Hey! There’s an incredible pool of talent here!’ I want to make sure we’re not seen as a trend or of the moment, but of the future of what beauty is representing. We have the power to redirect the narrative, even in an industry that has been pre-designed to hype an ‘it model’ of now.”
Trans representation often feels far and few between, and for those that do garner the attention from beauty brands, it’s often short lived and reeks of tokenism. It’s not sustainable, and doesn’t allow careers to flourish for trans models in the same way that cis models have an illustrious time in the limelight.
“Brands need to start representing people that are so important and valuable, when it comes to talking about the narrative of today, and discussing beauty and diversity… Going to people on the edges of our society and saying, ‘You’re breathtakingly gorgeous and you deserve all of the light and shine the world has to offer’, not just because you’re beyond the ‘normal’ narrative, but because you’re an expression of the future of what beauty needs to be.”
As an artist, Fame transcends beauty, but also boundaries and labels. Her work has never been about moving from one character to another, and in essence, her art is the antithesis of that. Speaking to her, I realise it’s about her remaining still within herself, and learning how internally she can grow. How we can grow as trans folks. It’s the movement of femininity within oneself, through her beauty, and through her fashion.
“I felt like by embellishing myself cosmetically, I felt like a warrior and I could head on in. It led to me meeting Miss Fame, and leaning in, and realising my femininity knows no end, it just really likes glamour. And when I get to full glamour, I feel the most powerful, but I don’t feel like I’m wearing a costume, it’s still me. A lot of people ask me, ‘Is it like your character?’ and the word ‘character’, and even ‘drag’ make me feel a little uncomfortable. It takes away from the authenticity of what I’m doing. That’s a human being, not an act.”
Often people who don’t understand beauty, and especially non-conformity when it comes to beauty put walls up between themselves and us. Almost an ‘if I can’t see it, it doesn’t exist’ type of mentality. But speaking to Fame, it’s clear to see that her journey with self acceptance, through her beauty has had those moments, as well as moments of self nourishment and joy for her. Both as a young person, and now as an adult.
“When I was 18, I found my community and I was also finding a lot of trouble. Makeup was armour and protection in the beginning because I was so overwhelmed by the queer community that I was going into. For me, feeling beautiful meant applying something. The aesthetic of application made me feel ready to walk into any space… Rockabilly femme, full paint, full foundation, pencil thin brows, curled Dior mascara every single day. A gloss, a shimmer, blush. That was in 2005, no influencer market, no YouTube, no social media to be seen. I was just doing it because I had to”.
But looking at her journey now, it’s great to realise that that journey often never ends. Beauty always finds a way to continue to evolve the way we feel with our identity. A recent trip to London resulted in that for Fame.
“Fashion week in London, I was going through an identity resurrection, and I comprehended using they/them pronouns. I rang my agent and I said, ‘I’m really understanding this.’ There was a sense where I was wondering, ‘Am I trans? And what does this mean?’ I was really nervous that what if I don’t know who I am, as I lean deeper into this expression? And what if I find out a year or two later there’s more to me? I was like, ‘Well yes! That’s human evolution!’”
That’s the golden ticket for me, is realising that gender identity and expression is something that is never stagnant, and that’s ok. Our surroundings and our artistry allows us to constantly explore who we are, and by trying that out on our bodies, we can become closer and more connected with that, no matter what stage of life you’re in.
“That’s why I’m so uncomfortable with people referring to me as a drag queen because I don’t identify as a character. I’m not a character. This isn’t me putting on a costume, it’s a part of my expression of self, it’s my femininity I’m leaning into, so I might not be trans, or who knows… I felt like the only time when people could see me was when I was cosmetically elevated. I felt like I needed to be seen fully done because that’s where I reside internally, but the more that I’ve come to fully embrace myself as an artist, and as someone who has cameras paying attention to me, it’s nice to have the days off and feel femme, and it’s undeniable and I feel comfortable with it.”
To close, it was wonderful to speak to Fame about her beauty range Miss Fame Beauty, and what’s next for herself, and the brand post COVID. Discussing the importance of representation, but how self care and nourishment for our community is also essential for our growth.
When I get to full glamour, I feel the most powerful, but I don’t feel like I’m wearing a costume, it’s still me.
“It’s about stories. Products are almost secondary at this point, but it’s the person. We are captivated by the person who is a part of it… People that have been pushed to the corners of society, and I know what that feels like, and I can speak on behalf of my queer journey and my femme journey. There’s sort of experiences and identifications I’ve not lived and never will live, and I’m learning that for me, to amplify those voices, I want to use my platform and brand to spotlight the human experience. Beauty is bigger than just saying, ‘Oh, this product is nice.’ It has to be identifiable.
“Looking forward, I’m excited to show more products at the beginning of 2021, and with COVID and moving [house] I was at a standstill. I was really thinking about how I protect my mental health right now, and I put my move at the forefront, and the brand said, ‘We’ll be right back!’ And so, looking forward to 2021, I’ll be sharing new products and opportunities looking at talking about beauty, and allowing Miss Fame Beauty to bloom into new arena’s and into new cosmetic development.”