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Maya Washington—Shameless Maya as she’s known on YouTube—wasn’t always the badass boss she is today. In fact, she credits YouTube and her audience for giving her the confidence to pursue her best self, especially at a time when her life felt most defined by divorce, depression, and trying to make ends meet.
If there is one thing to know about the Toronto native, it’s that she is somehow capable of doing everything; acting, pursuing a career as a professional photographer, running a multifaceted and original YouTube channel, or making a crop top with only a pair of scissors and a kitchen towel. But the difference between Shameless Maya and that snotty high school kid whose name appears under every club in the yearbook, is that Washington’s mission isn’t to be perfect. In fact, it’s her example of doing anything and everything that continues to inspire her audience to put their own bucket lists into motion.
When she first started her YouTube channel in 2012, she started with a challenge: 365 days of shameless self promotion in the hope of overcoming her social anxiety and insecurities. Originally, Washington was reluctant to make YouTube videos, seeing the site as “cheesy.” But in her first year of video making, Washington quickly became known for her contagious enthusiasm and her curly hair tutorials. Then, in a shameless and fearless way, she shaved her head during an emotional livestream and hasn’t looked back since.
In all her videos—beauty tutorials, fashion lookbooks, health and wellness insights, tech advice for aspiring photographers and YouTubers, vlogs, and drag queen makeup tutorials—Maya presents herself in an honest, proudly flawed way that instantly creates a bond of comfort between herself and her fans. And through her dramatic hair choices and bold fashion statements, she shows us to always try new, fun, innovative things in order to keep pushing the idea of who we are. With tutorials that speak directly to her experiences as a woman of mixed race, her channel has also created a space for communities of color on a platform where they might otherwise feel underrepresented.
So cheers to you, Ms. Shameless! Thank you always reminding us to live each day as fully as possible—with a dash of red lipstick and a pair of dynamite earrings, of course.
Screengrab via Shameless Maya/YouTube
Carly Lanning is a journalist who covers social media. Her work has been published by Psychology Today, NBC, Thrillist, and Ms. Magazine.