Ingrid Nilsen is what can only be described as a YouTube icon. With nearly 4 million subscribers to her beauty-centric YouTube channel, Miss Glamorazzi, and over 800,000 on her second, more personal channel, The Grid Monster, it’s easy to see that fans adore her. And rightfully so! She’s a force to be reckoned with — beauty, brains, and style all rolled into one.
Now she’s taking more than just YouTube by storm. In less than a decade, she’s risen to the top of vlog stardom and the beauty industry is starting to take note. But her life wasn’t always in front of the video cameras. Though it may not look like it when you see her bubbly smile, she’s faced real hardship both in front and behind the scenes through the years, yet she constantly manages to come out on top. There’s much more to the beauty powerhouse that the world may not know. Let’s take a look at the untold truth of Ingrid Nilsen.
She stumped the president by asking him about tampon taxes
Nilsen was chosen as one of three YouTubers invited to speak to President Obama at the White House, where she made jaws drop with one question in particular. While the interview revolved around a lot of touchy topics, like terrorism and marriage equality, it was when Nilsen talked about the tax on feminine products that shocked everyone — including the president himself.
“Something that’s really important to me and my audience is women’s health, and recently I was shocked to learn that pads, tampons, and other menstrual products are taxed as ‘luxury goods’ in 40 states,” Nilsen said, adding, “I don’t know anyone who has a period that thinks it’s a luxury.” President Obama agreed, but when Nilsen asked him the reasoning for the continuation of these items being taxed, it’s clear President Obama was stumped.
“I have to tell you, I have no idea why states would tax these as luxury items. I suspect it’s because men were making the laws when those taxes were passed, and I think it’s pretty sensible for women in those states that you just mentioned work to get those removed,” he said, noting that the feminine product taxes aren’t federal. He also added, “The basic idea is that women should not be at a disadvantage in the health care system and this is just one more example of it, which I confess I was not aware of until you brought it to my attention.”
She’s fighting for gender equality as a UN Ambassador
Being chosen as a UN Ambassador is no easy feat, but Nilsen was recruited as a Change Ambassador by the UN to help inspire the rights for all genders. In an interview with Hello Giggles, Nilsen said that she was “really excited to talk about, obviously, gender equality,” but said her role as a Change Ambassador was going to focus on “equality beyond [cisgender] women’s equality.”
“I’m really interested in the bathroom situation that’s currently happening in this country and the conversations around that, because I think it’s so relevant to what I’m talking about within Change Ambassador,” she said. With all of the current rules and regulations that limit the expansion of gender equality, Nilsen is trying to break down those walls — and I have no doubt that she’ll tackle the issue head-on to ensure some kind of change.
She’s very clear on what feminism means to her
There are some women who boldly state their feminism, and others who shy away from it (and news flash: it’s okay to do either!), but Nilsen fits into the former category. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Nilsen made her stance clear.
“I think you can be a feminist, support other women and love makeup. I think the part of being a feminist is embracing who you are — who other women are,” she said, adding she wants “women to know that they are capable of doing so much more than what they think they are capable of.” She’s also adamant about one other thing that’s vital for feminists: showing kindness toward other women. “Support other women,” Nilsen said. “One of my favorite things is to see my friends succeed — to create an environment of young women rooting for each other, I hope other young women do that with their friends, too.”
In an interview with Hollywire TV, Nilsen noted, “As women, we have a very specific relationship with anger, because socially we’re taught that it’s not okay to express our anger, but in reality anger means that change is needed. And there’s a really productive and healthy way to express your anger, and you can still express it authentically.” We love that a fearless feminist like Nilsen is boldly stating her thoughts and is consistently challenging gender norms.
She chooses to speak about her dad in the present tense
With so many incredible things that Nilsen has experienced, she’s undoubtedly faced plenty of obstacles in her past — most heartbreakingly the loss of her father over a decade ago. In an interview with Too Damn Young, Nilsen opened up about the loss of her father and her choice to honor him by often speaking about him in the present tense. “My dad was my best friend. He’s the most creative person that I knew and really always encouraged me to be creative and to be whoever I was — whether it was like everyone else or different from everyone else,” she said, adding that her father was “constantly creative and someone who was a rebel in a lot of ways…. That’s where I think that I get the rebel inside of me.”
Nilsen opened up on her grieving process since her father’s passing, and urged anyone who’s dealt with loss to simply grieve in a way that’s right for them. “I relied on my friends and things like that, but really, for me, was a very personal, internal process,” she said, adding, “I want people to know that there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. As long as you’re grieving in whatever way feels natural to you, that’s what you have to follow.” She ended things on a hopeful note, saying “Either you can choose to ruminate in it and really disappear, or you can just take it one step at a time and know that you can make it through.”
The most impactful video she ever posted had nothing to do with makeup
Nilsen’s YouTube channel dishes out hundreds of ideas on makeup, beauty, and fashion, but her most impactful video by far — with nearly 17 million views as of this writing — was about something very, very personal: that Nilsen decided to tell her fans that she was gay. Since that video, she’s received a ton of praise and support, and has urged anyone in a similar situation to not feel ashamed or discouraged.
In an interview with Women’s Health, Nilsen shared, “I had a girl come up to me and say that she felt she had never seen herself reflected in someone who was more of a public figure. It’s so cool to see a community form around this video.”
It’s more than just cool — it’s incredible! It’s refreshing that someone so public has chosen to be her true self in front of the camera, without worrying what others will think. In the interview, she also said, “If people I was working with had a problem with me being gay, I didn’t want to work with them anyway. My main concern was my community and the people in my personal life, and also, myself,” and said. “I just have a lot more clarity now, and it’s like the fog has moved away.”
She’s signed one of the biggest influencer beauty deals in history as the face of BareMinerals
It’s not easy to be chosen to be that face of a beauty product, yet Nilsen was chosen to partner with BareMinerals — and is reportedly being paid $500,000 to do so, making it one of the biggest influencer beauty deals in history — and there’s nobody more deserving. As the face of two new foundations for the Shiseido-owned company, Nilsen promotes these product on her YouTube channels and appears in print ads for the company.
The partnership makes sense, though, since Nilsen is an avid fan of BareMinerals, and told WWD that she’s not worried about losing any sort of credibility by promoting these products that she uses constantly. “My viewers are no strangers to BareMinerals popping up in my videos — even videos that aren’t beauty related… [like] an apartment tour,” she said. “You can see everything I use, and BareMinerals pops up regularly. It’s something that they’re used to; it’s something I genuinely use every day,” Nilsen said. And honestly, if using these products help us look as flawless as Nilsen does, I think it’s safe to say we’re all on board to trying them out!
She was bullied as a kid for being in a mixed family
It’s not hard to see that Nilsen is beyond gorgeous, whether she chooses to wear makeup or not, and part of that beauty comes from her mixed heritage — her mom is Thai and her dad is Scandinavian. In a video she uploaded to her YouTube channel, Nilsen shared she didn’t exactly realize she was “different” until kindergarten, when the lunch that she brought in looked nothing like the other kids’ lunches.
Although “there weren’t very many mixed kids” in her school, Nilsen pointed out that “kids were mean for other reasons. There were plenty of other things about me as a child to make fun of other than my background!”
While kids weren’t mean to her about her mixed heritage, unfortunately adults were. “One of the worst things that was ever said to me, an adult said to me, ‘It’s bad enough your parents met and fell in love, it’s even worse that they had you.'” Nilsen added it was particularly tough because adults are seen as authority figures by kids and it made her question whether they were right. Luckily, she was able to see past the cruel bullying. “I decided to take the route of I am proud of who I am. I love that I am from a mixed background.”
She’s hidden secret messages in her Mejuri jewelry collaboration
Get ready to break out your wallets, because Nilsen’s collaboration with Mejuri jewelry is absolutely stellar. Her collection is beautiful, but it goes beyond that — each piece features hidden messages that Nilsen chose herself. In an interview with Bustle, Nilsen explained the reason for those certain phrases. “They keep me moving forward, and they have been powerful words in my life,” she said. “I’m a firm believer that words have such an impact on our well-being, and they’re really powerful… I like integrating things into my life that have words that really resonate with me.”
The message “keep going” particularly resonated with Nilsen. “I’ve definitely had moments in my life where I have not wanted to get out of bed. It has been so hard for me to just keep living and keep going on with life when you feel so discouraged. When I found myself in the deepest part of this was when my dad died, and for the span of years, I was really in this spiral. I had so many days where I didn’t want to get out of bed,” she shared. “The thing that I was able to pull out of that was, ‘Keep going,’ and that’s what got me out of bed on the days when I didn’t want to keep going.”
We’re glad she kept going — thanks to her, she’s changing the world in the most positive of ways.
She hosts a podcast that talks about taboo topics
Just when you thought that she couldn’t get more talented, Nilsen is also a podcaster on the show she and fellow YouTube friend Cat Valdes produce called Ladies Who Lunch — and no, it’s not about etiquette surrounding all-things-ladylike. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. The podcast’s website claims that it “gives you a seat at the table with YouTubers Ingrid Nilsen and Cat Valdes while they explore topics often left out of polite conversation,” and invites listeners to “join their dialogue about sex, relationships, social phobias and more, as they approach life’s dilemmas with compassion and a sense of humor.”
So if you’re interested in things like “Period Problems” (and hearing hilarious accounts of the YouTubers’ first time menstruating) or “Color in the Queer Community” where they explore different cultures’ reactions to members of the gay community, you’ll definitely want to tune in. Seriously, is there anything that Nilsen can’t do?!