Jackie Aina: The Influencer Who Advocates for Inclusivity
Tue, April 20, 2021

Jackie Aina: The Influencer Who Advocates for Inclusivity

Countless lawsuits, Instagram move to banning “likes,” and recent changes in social media engagement seem to indicate that the bubble is about to burst. However, Jackie Aina is focused on the “messages that matter”  / Photo by: Kathy Huchins via Shutterstock

 

Influencers today are engaging in beauty wars and #sponcon, making it hard for you to communicate your message to audiences, according to Bella Cacciatore of Glamour, a news platform dedicated to women. Countless lawsuits, Instagram move to banning “likes,” and recent changes in social media engagement seem to indicate that the bubble is about to burst. However, Jackie Aina is focused on the “messages that matter.” 

Aina is not afraid to voice out her opinions. Her beauty commentary is blunt, and her sense of humor and personality are infectious. These traits have helped her garner more than three million subscribers on YouTube and 1.2 million followers on Instagram. From singing her “Jackie” theme to referencing memes, Aina’s videos are enough to make anyone smile. 

 

How Jackie Aina Started as an Influencer

Aina initially started her channel with a traditional tutorial style. She hit her stride when she let her true colors shine. That was way back in 2009. At the time, Aina reflected, “There was essentially no one in that space focusing on beauty for darker skin complexions,” as quoted by Leigh-Ann Jackson of New York City-based newspaper The New York Times. 

Looking back on her “Makeup Trends We’re Ditching in 2019” video, she told Glamour last year, “I just thought, ‘What if people really got to see how weird and crazy I am?’” She never expected the video to go viral. Aina is known for bringing joy to a space that can sometimes lead to pettiness and drama. She is known to advocate for viewers with skin tones like her own, assisting them in navigating drugstore aisles, luxury cosmetic counters, and subscription boxes. 

Aina initially started her channel with a traditional tutorial style. She hit her stride when she let her true colors shine. That was way back in 2009 / Photo by: Myroslava Malovana via Shutterstock

 

Her reviews and how-to guides on cosmetic products on various price ranges show how far the beauty industry has come in terms of diversity as well as how much further it has to go. Aina noted, “A sea full of brands trying to capitalize off the ‘inclusivity movement.’” She asserts her thoughts with an intent to create change instead of resorting to the internet’s call-out culture. For instance, Aina has tagged brands when they are not being inclusive, held other influencers accountable, and addressed colorism. She stated, “I truly mean this wholeheartedly, whenever I talk about brands, I want them to actually implement that feedback and use it to their benefit.”

Until now, Aina continues to encourage brands to be more inclusive—and they listen. Tarte launched its Shape Tape Foundation of 15 shades in early 2018. Apparently, only three of the 15 shades “could be considered deep.” The shades were too orange for Aina to use. In a video review of the launch, she stated, “I don’t appreciate the blatant erasure of a whole spectrum of people. It doesn't even look like they tried.” 

Tarte got the message, prompting the brand to add more shades and relaunching the foundation as Face Tape earlier this year, which included 50 more shades. 

Aina’s Partnerships With Beauty Brands 

Aina, a former Army reservist, has collaborated with beauty brands e.l.f. Cosmetics and Sophora. Her biggest partnership to date is with Estee Lauder-owned Too Faced. She teamed up with the brand last summer to expand its Born This Way Foundation shade range. The partnership continued with Super Coverage Concealer, which comprises the same nine foundation shades she worked on last year after conducting interviews and testing the products on herself and her friends. The announcement was a hit and Chai, Aina’s personal shade, quickly became Too Faced’s best-selling shade. 

Too Faced’s co-founder and chief creative officer Jerrod Blandino said, “I realized I needed to call somebody, not only that I completely respect and trust, but somebody that I love enough to sit in my throne and really lead me and guide me down this road.” For him, Aina was perfect for the job as she is at the forefront of doing the right thing, effecting change for people and the world. This partnership goes further back, with Aina previously getting samples of the brand’s lipsticks on its website to create visuals on darker skin tones. She also created a promo video for Too Faced’s Better Than Sex Mascara.

Blandino said Aina has opened up doors to individuals who felt marginalized, showing them “that not only is it possible, it's their right.”

Aina, a former Army reservist, has collaborated with beauty brands e.l.f. Cosmetics and Sophora. Her biggest partnership to date is with Estee Lauder-owned Too Faced / Photo by: Sorbis via Shutterstock

 

Letting Herself Be Heard 

People think that 2019 marks the end of influencers, but Aina is not worried about that. She expressed the thought that people are looking for accounts “that make them feel seen now more than ever.” She said there is someone online who “looks like you, thinks the same way you do, had the same struggle but got out of that.” 

The message has always been clear for the influencer and the message is always bigger than her. She posed, “What is this going to do to my community?” If Aina doesn’t say anything, will it harm her community? With that mindset, she continues to speak up. 

Aina doesn’t mince words when it comes to calling out brands and advocating for inclusivity. She teaches her audience that having dark skin is not something to be ashamed of. Rather, it is something to be embraced. With brands listening to her, there is hope for the beauty industry to take significant strides in promoting inclusivity.