For Writer Arielle Twist, Eyeliner is a Source of Strength and Expression

For Writer Arielle Twist, Eyeliner is a Source of Strength and Expression
Photo by Tennil Campbell. Design by Danielle Campbell.

Welcome to my story, our series dedicated to creatives of color and their path to success. According to these diverse narratives and backgrounds, we hope to expand our understanding of the cultural interactions surrounding beauty and fashion and increase respect for our differences.

Aerial twist is a major cat-eye connoisseur. Halifax-based transgender poets, sex educators and visual artists have been wearing black feline sticks ever since they started using makeup. “I have always gravitated towards a cat’s eye and a red or naked lip; I don’t stray from that blueprint, ”she says, adding that what has developed is the punctuation of her exaggerated winged liner with rich, dynamic shadows.

For Twist, it is a way of reflecting her indigenous identity. “The characteristics I choose to enhance are often the things I find most beautiful about Cree women: the shape of our eyes and mouth, the way our cheeks are prominent. My eyes and lips are two of my favorite features on my face, so why not expose them? “She expresses. Access to her staple eyeliner and lipstick also connects Twist to her mom and her grandmother, or kokums As she says in Cree. “I can see the divine femininity that is my mother and mine kokums He went to me, ”she says. She said, “I always do the same thing when I do my makeup.” I am really lucky that I have found a canvas that sings for all the women I encounter. “

This deep connection to her makeup dates back to 2013, when Twist began the transition. She added, “Makeup gave me access to my female features to make me more female.” “It was a way to challenge my own gender dysphoria.”

Since then, cosmetics have been powerful tools to help Twist walk through the world as a transgender woman. She says, “Makeup fills me with confidence.” “Everything that I want to do as an artist is to kindle for fire.”

Last year, Twist gained national notoriety with the release of her first book, Disintegrate, A collection of 38 poems that speak to some of her most intimate lived experiences: transition, sex, love, violence, displacement and more. The paperback is rife with grief and resilience, but also holds a place for happiness and community. “I believe my work is honest,” she explains. “Even though it sounds cruel at times, it is just reality. I exist as an indigenous brown trans woman in a world dedicated to debating and questioning my humanity, so it is often painful, but also a source of hope, intense love and kinship. People describe it as poetic poetry. “

Born in the George Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan, Twist spent much of his time as a young child in the city of Regina before his family moved to the Sipnektic First Nation in Nova Scotia. It was a trick inspired by bigotry, she admits. “I think there is a kind of hateful racism towards the indigenous people in the prairies, which we gave up, played a part in this. My mother wanted to get us out of there. “

Saskatchewan will always be a place that nurtures the twist, she says- “George Gordon First Nation is my country of birth, my ancestor’s homeland” – but she knows that she would not have been the woman she was today. “When I think about it, I think how uncertain it would be to be an indigenous trans woman in Regina. I do not know if I had an infection. I do not know if I will be alive right now. Growing up, I remember Saskatchewan being a difficult place to be an indigenous person. “

From Sipekne’katik First Nation, the twist finally made its way into Halifax and in 2017, his life and career changed.

While working as a sex teacher at Venus Anyvie, the award-winning LGBTQ + friendly sex shop and health information-based bookstore in downtown Halifax, Twist established a relationship with a Canadian author, a book Was touring for launch, which led to the mentorship. . “We got to chat, and he asked me if I ever thought about writing, not what I had written,” she explains. What happened next felt like a tornado.

That same summer, Twist’s former mentor invited her to Toronto — a trip that would inspire Twist to attend Naked Heart, Toronto’s annual LGBTQ + literary festival. Less than a year later, he signed a book deal with Vancouver-based publisher Arsenal Pulp Press.

Twist counted his 2019 book tour as the most proud moment within his short writing career. This opportunity allowed him to travel all over Canada, and the young poet was amazed by the audience he was able to reach through his words — especially indigenous trans youth. “It was the most eye-opening experience,” she says. “I was able to go to Saskatchewan and talk to the youth of my home – the children who looked like me talked like me. What the youth are doing I never thought about what I could do: they are transitioning to Saskatchewan. I always thought that was impossible. They were talking about my work and me. “

And you can be sure that with every stop of her book tour, Twist rocked her signature eyeliner flick. Because as much as makeup is about celebrating a strong self-image, Twist feels it also makes it easier to fit her with the long-held conservative norms around feminine beauty. “I can definitely see how makeup affects how people talk to me, contact me and see me – especially in a professional way. I think it takes people more seriously. “

In his kit

These are the go-to staples in Ariel Twist’s makeup bag.

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