WATCH: Meissa Mason's serpent makeup look
On top of studying a double degree in law and arts (majoring in Indigenous studies and minoring in visual arts 💁♀️), the 20-year-old Wiradjuri, Gomeroi and Awabakal woman is serving iconic eyeshadow looks, rainbow mullets, and transforming her face into a legit canvas — she really said, “yes I am an artist and I’m gonna prove it to you 😌.”
Then, when she’s not studying or giving us beauty inspo, Meisss is educating us all on First Nations peoples’ history and culture, and breaking down all of the misconceptions White Australia has about the people who originally came from the land we walk on — from Aboriginal comic book heroes to why we say Indigenous Australian peoples instead of people to reflect the multifaceted and varied tribes that make up Indigenous Australia.
So, it should come to no surprise that our queen is one of TikTok’s Mardi Gras ambassadors this year. To celebrate, Girlfriend chatted to Meissa about her makeup and activism, what advice she has for budding TikTok beauty stars, and what Mardi Gras means to her.
The theme at this year's Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is "Rise." What do you use your platform to rise for?
"Honestly I just try to make upcoming generations [and] youth rise and feel comfortable in their identities. Whether it’s their Aboriginality, gender or sexuality."
What does Mardi Gras mean to you?
"Mardi Gras, to me, is a place where I don’t have to hide any part of myself, I can be unapologetically me."
What does being a TikTok ambassador at Mardi Gras mean to you?
"I feel so honoured to have been chosen to be involved and to represent TikTok at Mardi Gras. TikTok is actually the platform I came out on, it’s the place I felt most comfortable expressing my sexuality and for that, I am ever grateful. I’ve had so many amazing experiences and met so many amazing friends since coming out and being involved with TikTok!!"
What advice do you have for people who might be celebrating Mardi Gras for the first time?
"Last year was actually my first Mardi Gras, so I would just say have fun, and stay safe! Take a friend or family member with you, dress however you’re comfortable and enjoy the festivities."
WATCH: Meissa Mason reveals a cow print eyeshadow look
What advice do you have for people who live in rural towns or places where there isn't a local event for Mardi Gras?
"Due to COVID a lot of areas are having limited or no Mardi Gras celebrations this year and if you happen to be in that position, I would encourage you all to get online and join in there! Heaps of events are being televised/streamed and some places are holding online forums/events."
You're such a talented MUA. Over on TikTok, you're giving us a literal digital lookbook with every new face - truly, we still think about that 🐄 print eyeshadow look you did last month. Can you tell us about your creative vision and what inspires you to come up with your creations?
"Honestly my inspiration comes from everywhere! Sometimes I see an artwork or album cover and get inspired, sometimes I see another MUA amazing look and feel inspired, and sometimes random looks just come to me in the moment!"
What advice do you have for budding TikTok makeup artists?
"In terms of filming advice, try to have a clear view/angle with good lighting so everyone can see what you’re doing! In terms of trying to go 'viral,' join in on popular makeup trends! I just tried the #foundationchallenge a few weeks ago and that blew up! Also, try to use trending audios and audiences always love a killer makeup transition."
How would you describe your journey with makeup? Is it a big part of your identity?
"I wouldn’t say makeup is a part of my identity but I would definitely say it’s a massive part of my personality. I consider myself a very creative person, and makeup is one of my favourite creative outlets."
What's been your favourite look you've created so far?
"Two of these aren’t actually looks I did on TikTok, but these three are my all time favourite looks I’ve ever done!"
What's a beauty trend you hope comes back in style?
"'90's lip liner with lip gloss! Such an underrated look that suits absolutely everyone!"
What's a beauty trend you can't stand?
"Tanning excessively to the point you look like a different race. I have no issues with people tanning in moderation, giving themselves that golden glow, but I can’t stand when pale people tan to a brown colour to look like people of colour, not only does it look odd, it’s highly offensive and problematic."
"Dark skin isn’t an accessory and people of colour can’t take their skin off and only wear it at events, they have it 24/7 and get all the negatives that come with it."
Circling back to a different side of your digital platform - when you're not transitioning to a stunning or cute makeup transformation, you're educating the children with informative face-to-camera TikToks about First Nations Australians, Aboriginal Peoples' cultures and more. From why we say Blak to Aboriginal superheroes, nobody is doing it like you. What inspired you to start making these and when did you start to think that this was something that you could be known for?
"I have always been a political person even before TikTok, and the things I post now, and the conversations I have, are posts I’ve always made on my personal social media. However, when I first joined TikTok I was wary of my audience and if you have a look, my first few videos are makeup (beetle juice cosplay) and fashion and beauty videos."
"I didn’t start incorporating my Aboriginality into my page until I seen Emily, @howdoidelete1 TikToks. She made me aware that TikTok is a platform we can create a First Nations space in. This is a space we can engage and educate on. So not long after I seen Tidda’s videos, I started making my own on my experiences as a Blak woman. My TikTok blew up quite quickly after that, specifically a video I made recounting a racist interaction I had with an Uber driver on the way to uni."
WATCH: Meissa Mason on Aboriginal Australian comic book heroes you didn't know existed
Flexx Mami recently spoke about the importance of BIPOC influencers protecting their energy when they've become an authority figure on their community or an issue to the general public. How do you process being an authority to the people while still maintaining your distance and self-care?
"I sometimes struggle with expectation or pressure, but I assure myself that I am still just a person, I may have a platform, but I am still a 20 year old struggling uni student, with my own responsibilities, trying to get through life too."
"I recently put up a post setting some boundaries regarding expectation and pressure. I had asked people to ask me whether I am in the headspace to receive triggering posts/videos before sending them unsolicited, and just to manage their expectations of me. Social media isn’t my job, I am a full time student and do this on the side, in my own time."
How do you explore your queer and Wiradjuri, Gomeroi and Awakabal identity through makeup? If you're comfortable sharing, are there any dreamtime stories or customs within your tribes that are similar to your journey of queer self-discovery
"I love expressing my intersectional identity through makeup and fashion. I like to create rainbow looks, or makeup looks using the Aboriginal flag colours! Unfortunately I struggled with my sexuality a lot growing up, so my experience doesn’t really match any Dreamtime stories (that I’m aware of) and as I am from East coast, NSW mobs a lot of our knowledge about queer identities within our communities pre-colonisation has been lost. "