The impact that social media has had on millennials, gen-Z and those generations to come will long be debated — regardless of its more questionable effects, it has provided a place for many marginalized communities to both celebrate themselves and even gain a foothold in the mainstream culture.
Growing up, I didn’t really see people that looked like me in magazines or in coming-of-age movies. As a fashion enthusiast, self-doubt and internal dilemmas build when you admire an industry that has poor or inauthentic POC representation. As a Latinx, we get hit with double the whitewashing: Western European standards are reflected in Latin-American media as well.
Thanks to platforms like YouTube and Instagram, POC created their own media to share tips on makeup, hair and fashion. We saw terms like Afro-Latina and natural gain a bigger audience, quickly squashing the traditional idea that in order to look presentable and elegant you had to straighten your hair. We also now have pages like afrolatinas that embrace women of all shades and hair textures as well as support local Latinx businesses. The following are Afro-Latinx influencers who consistently share these topics and inspire women like me to explore spaces where we once felt we didn’t belong.
1. Irishcel Puello
Panamanian YouTuber Iris Puello is a freelance makeup artist who has grown her YouTube subscriptions to over 1 million since launching her channel in 2008. The charismatic 29-year-old is known for her witty personality during her tutorials. She consistently posts beauty and fashion looks for her more than 630,000 followers on Instagram.
2. Linda Elaine
This influencer of Jamaican and Mexican descent is widely known for her transparency in her videos. Back in 2016, she posted a video addressing her battle with alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease (your immune system attacks your own body) that causes hair loss in huge chunks. The L.A. blogger was known as Jamexican Beauty on social before changing her handles to her real name. Her Instagram feed is populated with tropical outfits and style posts that will inspire you to rock ruffles and bright colors during the winter.
3. Rafaela Franco
The 28-year-old Brazilian Instagrammer hosts a page filled with natural-protective hairstyles. Residing in Rio de Janeiro, she makes sure to post photos of awe-inspiriting landscapes found in her native country while showing unapologetic black pride.
4. Mel Burgos
Talking about hair maintenance came naturally to Mel Burgos, who’s Puerto Rican heritage and D.C. lifestyle led her to name her page Rock Yo Rizos. She originally started her blog as a way to turn the negative energy she felt during a bad breakup into something creative and fulfilling. The 35-year-old’s feed consists of fitness and travel tips, with the occasional pizza-slice post thrown in, that will enhance the fun and function of your timeline.
5. Farah Pink
Dominican-born fashion blogger Farah Pink sold merch and vintage clothing for years online before creating her business Pinkness.co, where you can find organic skin-care products, accessories and her own merch. When featured for Los Creadores the 30-year-old told CHICA, “I am living proof that no matter what life throws at you, you can pick yourself up and do things you are passionate about.” On her Instagram, she shares hair product reviews, wig tips and outfit inspirations.
6. Jewellianna Palencia
The Washington, D.C., native gained popularity on YouTube through videos on hair care, fashion hauls and beauty tips. The 24-year-old vlogger, who’s black and Guatemalan, has a feed heavily populated with different wash-and-go methods and natural hairstyles.
7) Denisse Benitez
Formerly known as “Thugnanny” on the web, the internationally published photographer and entrepreneur creates blog posts that cover everything from travel to mental health. As a creative consultant, she helps other content creators with personal branding and media kits. Although she currently lives in Arizona, her East Coast chic-ness is properly observed in her outfit photos.
8) Monica Veloz
The influencer also known as monicastylemuse was vocal about Afro-Latinidad before the term hit the mainstream. Raised in Brooklyn’s Bushwick area, the 26-year-old’s Spanglish slang has added to her appeal. While most of her videos are in English, she opens up her latest clips in Spanish. In every entry, there’s a “Vamos a comenzar,” which translates to “Let’s get started.” Her honest reviews on foundation and makeup serve as a great source for women of color who aren’t sure whether to purchase a product.
9) Grasie Mercedes
The multifaceted content creator of Dominican descent began her career at MTV Networks as a producer before moving to L.A. During her eight years as a blogger, she’s managed to build an impressive social media following. The content that comes alive on the 40-year-old’s page ranges from hair and fashion inspo to makeup organization.