2020 has been ‘a year’, to say the least. But it’s arguably been even more of a year for YouTube makeup artist Nikkie de Jager, better known as NikkieTutorials, who is ending it as the recipient of the Inspiration Award at the 2020 Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards, powered by Jaguar.
From suffering a robbery at gunpoint in her own home to being blackmailed, which pushed her to come out publicly as transgender, Nikkie’s been through a lot. But she didn’t just survive; she thrived.
Refusing to be a victim, she came out as a proud trans woman, which amassed her more views than ever on YouTube; she won her native Holland’s biggest reality TV show; brought out a best-selling makeup palette; and got engaged to her boyfriend, Dylan.
NikkieTutorials reveals how coming out made her stronger in the Attitude Awards issue (Photography: Meis Belle Wahr and Jip Merkies)
"I’m just really lucky to have someone by my side that defends me and that always takes care of me", says Nikkie, 26. "He was the one to publish the coming-out video. He assured me I could do it and assured me he’d be there for me no matter what - he truly does deserve an award."
Nikkie talks us through the days and moments that led up to posting the confessional clip to her 17 million subscribers, knowing that as one of the world’s most popular YouTubers, the news would likely make international headlines, never mind set social media channels alight.
Understandably, after being blackmailed by unnamed individuals who threatened to out her, she found herself in a “very dark place”.
Nikkie pauses momentarily: “It truly felt like everything I had built for years was about to crash down and I was going to have to find a new job and start a new life. It got really dark.”
She adds: "That moment where I read that first positive comment… I’ll cherish that for the rest of my life."
When it comes to what other LGBTQ people who are struggling with coming out should do, her advice is to act on what feels right for your own circumstances.
Nikkie wears fake fur jacket and blouse by Marina Rinaldi (Photography: Meis Belle Wahr and Jip Merkies)
“Follow your gut, follow your heart and take that time,” she says. “Take the luxury of using that time to find out what feels right for you, because, trust me, when you’re forced to come out, like I was, it’s like, ‘OK we gotta do this right now! What are we doing?’.
"It may feel like your world is about to collapse around you, but trust me, I said this in my acceptance speech [for her Attitude Award], the world gets more colourful, the world becomes brighter and you’ll be all right, honestly."
As for the anti-trans brigade and their ongoing attack on trans identities, Nikkie eloquently comments, “It’s not like a kid just says, ‘Hey, I feel like I’m a girl’ on the Monday and by the Wednesday they’ve transitioned, it’s years of going to therapists every month and speaking to so many professionals.
"It’s not a phase, it’s a lifelong feeling and a lifelong journey, and the sooner these children are given the professional help they need, the luckier and happier they’ll be."
Looking towards the future, Nikkie exclaims that if she’s learnt anything from this year, it’s that you can’t plan ahead. In tribute to how she ends all of her YouTube videos, we enquire as to Nikki's 'Dutch word of the day' for today.
"Dankbaar,” she replies. “It’s the Dutch word for ‘thankful’."