How r/MakeupAddiction Became a Safe Space for Trans Women to Explore Beauty

At 30 years old, Goldson, who lives and works as a writer in Austin, Texas, says that by her age “women are often expected to have a lot of experience with makeup.” She does not. “Posting a photo of myself without makeup when trans women are often disproportionately punished for ‘not being feminine enough’ was difficult.”

But the reaction from others quickly eased Goldson’s fears. While she says it was clear to her that some transphobes “just went out and downvoted every comment,” the fact that trolls exist unfortunately does not surprise her. “On the other hand, I received a number of really helpful comments about how do to makeup specifically on my face,” she says. “This means that I can take the information I have learned from other posters, from articles, and from YouTubers, and apply them in ways that people who really know would apply them to my face.”

Sarah, a 28 year-old trans woman from Detroit who asked that her last name not be printed, also sought help on r/MakeupAddiction this year. “I became friends with four people through BumbleBFF who I’m out to,” she says. “I was really not impressed by my makeup skills.” Like Goldston, Sarah tried YouTube tutorials but really wanted feedback on how makeup looked on her face specifically.

After posting once on r/MakeupAddiction to little attention, she tried again. “[People] gave me standard advice that I didn’t know, [such as] ‘hey, this color will look good on you,’ or ‘hey, you don’t want to bring attention to your lips and eyes at the same time, either dramatic eyes or dramatic lips.’ Stuff like that,” Sarah says.

Sarah has not come out to most of the people in her life, which made posting a photo explicitly calling herself trans was a risk. “The first time I posted, I did think about what if someone I’m not out to sees,” she says. “But [by the second time], I had come out to another friend. He was supportive and when I showed him some photos of me, he couldn’t recognize me.”

When Sarah posted for the second time, she said she saw some bigoted comments, but says that the mods “usually remove them.” For the most part, people were encouraging. “Most of the responses are like, ‘hey, you look gorgeous,'” she says. “A lot [of people] include good feedback, like, ‘hey, shape your eyebrows this way,’ or ‘maybe this color blush is good.'”