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“You should love yourself either way—makeup or no makeup,” Shalom Blac (real name Shalom Nchom) tells her YouTube viewers. Those are words the relatively new YouTube creator has fought hard to believe, but she’s proof they’re realistic. At age 9, Nchom was severely burned by cooking oil in a restaurant her mother worked at in Nigeria. After spending four months in the hospital and enduring such pain that her body’s only response was to black out, Nchom reemerged into the world not only physically changed but suddenly the subject of unabashed staring, isolation, and bullying from her classmates.
Following the accident, Nchom found solace in makeup and began rebuilding her confidence by finding peace in her changed look. Soon, she became such a skilled makeup artist that her peers began asking her to do their makeup.
Now an adult living in the United States, Nchom recently watched her story as a burn survivor go viral after she uploaded her first video in two years onto her YouTube channel. She’s since begun establishing herself as a major power player within the beauty community and used her experiences as a burn survivor to empower and relate to others. Her combination of makeup and activism is most present in her tutorial “The Power of Makeup,” uploaded last week and already sitting at 1.4 million views.
This tutorial pays homeage to NikkieTutorial’s original “Power of Makeup” video that pushed back against makeup shaming and started conversations about makeup’s role in building confidence. The video spurred one of the biggest trends in 2015 and spurred videos from
Miranda Sings, Patrick Starr, Graveyard Girl, Dope211, and thousands of other creators.
As Nchom shared in a recent BuzzFeed interview, “Makeup is not the reason why I am happy. I’m happy because I love myself.” Her unwavering mission to inspire others has placed Nchom within a group of elite beauty creators using makeup tutorials as a form of social commentary, including Em Ford, Dodie Clark, and Megan MacKay.
Nchom’s content is not only serving an underrepresented group on YouTube but expanding society’s definition of beauty. After being profiled in the Huffington Post and Teen Vogue, Shalom Nchom’s talent is no longer a secret, and in 2016, I predict we’ll continue watching her rise as a major influencer on the platform.
Screengrab via Shalom Blac/YouTube
Carly Lanning is a journalist who covers social media. Her work has been published by Psychology Today, NBC, Thrillist, and Ms. Magazine.