Michelle Phan: Remaining True to Your Goals

maxresdefaultThis March during Spring Break I had the opportunity, thanks to Latinitas, to attend SXSW. SXSW is a set of film, interactive and music festivals and conferences that occur annually in Austin, Texas. This year both Latinos and women were prominently featured, and I attended with the goal of learning as much as I could from figures that are inspiring to Latinitas. One figure in particular caught my attention as I know that she is especially popular among preteen and teenage girls. That person is Michelle Phan, the explosively famous YouTuber who performs makeup tutorials on camera, and also runs her own makeup line called Em.

Michelle, along with Lucky Magazine editor-in-chief Eva Chen, headed a panel about how to remain true to ourselves and to our goals. Michelle started out the panel by noting that “right now is such a hard time to be a female because we are judged on so many different platforms.” She’s right: real life, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat…There are dozens of different ways in which who we are and what we say and how we look are analyzed and judged. So what’s a girl to do?

Michelle said that first off it is important to decide who you are. You must ask yourself: “What do you represent? What story do you want to tell?” It is important to ask yourself these questions because without a sense of what you believe and who you want to be you may fall prey to the lies others tell you about yourself.

Speaking of those with unkind things to say, Michelle says to “ignore the bullies and give platform to those speaking and doing good.” Once you have a vision for yourself and have learned to combat negativity you are ready to begin actively achieving your goals. Surround yourself with those who believe in and support those goals.

Michelle knows what she’s taking about. Behind her glamorous image and creative talent is a woman who endured much hardship to get to where she is today. Born to Vietnamese immigrants, her father left the family when she was very young. Her mother, living in poverty, struggled to provide for Michelle and her brother. She dreamed of Michelle becoming a doctor. Michelle, as much as she loved her mother and wanted to make her happy, knew instinctively that medicine was not her calling. So at the last minute she enrolled in art classes instead and paid her way working as a waitress.

She did not begin filming her YouTube videos until she was turned down for a job selling makeup at the Lancôme counter. She knew that, despite what others believed, she had a talent for makeup and could use it to help others. She began discussing and applying makeup herself on camera, and quickly gained followers. Her “Barbie Makeup” tutorial has 6 million views and counting! Major beauty lines soon noticed her success and talent. Lancôme, who had once turned her down for a job, returned to offer Michelle her very own makeup line with them! A while later, she received an offer for a book deal.

Today, Michelle has over 7 million subscribers to her YouTube channel, a makeup line called ‘Em’ and a published book. But even as she works hard to remain successful she remembers the importance of giving back to those most in need. At the SXSW panel she told the audience that she was headed to China the next day to promote a non-profit that foments education on a global scale. Her dedication to both achieving her own dreams and helping others to achieve theirs is an inspiring reminder that when we discover our life purpose we positively affect the lives of others.

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