Chosen Family: A group of people to whom you are emotionally close and consider ‘family’ even though you are not biologically or legally related. The role of chosen family is paramount in the lives of LGBTQIA+ individuals. With 39 percent of LGBTQ adults reporting experiencing rejection from a family member or friends and 40 percent of homeless youth identifying as queer, the holiday season can be extremely difficult for our communities. Digital and print media, including, but not limited to, social media posts, advertisements, and film, advance a notion of “ideal” heteronormative families that are not reflective of many families, but particularly erase LGBTQIA+ family units that often include chosen family.
The queer-owned makeup brand Fluide is challenging traditional notions of family and celebrating diverse family units with their first holiday campaign titled “Chosen Family,” with photos by Lauren Perlstein and makeup and hair assistance by MUA Deja Smith and hairstylist Dee Tranny Bear.
Manufactured in the USA, queer-owned Fluide is a collection cruelty-free makeup for all gender expressions, gender identities and skin tones. Fluide was recently showcased at Brooklyn Museum at dapperQ’s annual New York Fashion Week event. Isabella Giancarlo, Fluide Co-Founder and Creative Director said of the experience, “It was a total dream! I remember walking up to the Brooklyn Museum the day of the event and taking a slew of selfies outside because I was just so thrilled to collaborate with the Phluid Project – our first retailer – in one of my favorite places in the city in partnership with dapperQ, a queer style resource that I’ve been following for years.”
Giancarlo commented further, “We worked with a gorgeous, dynamic group of models and had so much fun creating bold, geometric looks. It was our first runway show and an incredible way to spend our first fashion week. I felt humbled to be surrounded by so many people who have a similar vision of gender expansiveness and are working hard to evolve and expand the mainstream definition of beauty.
In the past, many activists eschewed makeup and beauty products because they believed that said products served only as a tool of oppression. However, today makeup and beauty products are being worn not only as self-care and empowerment, but also as a tool to dismantle the gender binary, and brands like Fluide are at the forefront of celebrating beauty beyond the binary. Giancarlo shared with dapperQ Fluide’s vision for makeup for everybody and every body:
Our aim for Fluide is to represent and embody queer optimism. As a community, queers are often forgotten, only to be mentioned as a statistic or pandered to by huge corporations during Pride. What about queer joy? Queer resilience? Queer beauty!
Coming into my queerness and surrounding myself with members of the community who creatively defy cultural expectations and gender norms helped evolve my own definition of beauty and shifted the ways in which I feel comfortable expressing myself.
In the same way that being exposed to queer, non-mainstream representations of beauty opened up limitless, ungendered possibilities in my own self-expression, I’m hoping to do the same for others through Fluide by representing a funky, inclusive and expansive definition of beauty. I knew that a younger me was dying to see queer beauty represented by queer people and I know the process of coming into my queer identity would have been a lot easier had I had more gender-expansive role models.
To locate makeup outside of the paradigm of cis-female beauty is incredibly liberating and it opens up the potential for makeup to be an empowering form of self-expression for all everyone–regardless of sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity.
Beyond self-expression, makeup can be one powerful, yet approachable tool in self-actualization. Many of us within the community have a complicated history with makeup. Perhaps we felt obligated to wear it or didn’t have the permission to wear it or maybe couldn’t wear it in a way that felt authentic to us. Fluide is here to say: throw all your preconceived notions of what makeup is supposed to look like (and who it’s for) out the window and let makeup be one tool in tapping into a self that feels right to you. Our motto is “Make Up the Rules,” which I feel like embodies this ethos.