Andi (she/her) is an Asian trans woman who just moved to Portland, Oregon! She’s a professional makeup artist, pop star superfan, and Pokémon expert. Andi and I went to the same high school many years ago. If you go back far enough, she was not only the foundational inspiration for the Queer Soul Experience, but also the starting point of the entire self-love journey I’ve been on since I graduated from there.
You’d be surprised to know that despite her huge influence on my life, Andi and I talked maybe twice in high school. I may not have talked to her all that much, but I saw her. I watched her stomp the halls in heels and neon hues, with a mesh top over her t shirt. She pushed the (incredibly misogynistic, sexist, dated) dress code envelope as far as she could. She drew attention everywhere she went on campus which was about as far in the other direction as you could get from me, deep in the closet, desperately trying to fit in at any cost.
From where I sat on the grass, Andi was untouchable. She had a level of confidence and individuality I ached for. I remember thinking to myself over and over, “If I could have even a fraction of the confidence Andi has, I would be able to do anything.“
Of course, things aren’t always as they seem from the outside. Once she and I reconnected on social media about a year ago, I found out that she had been the poster child of “fake it til you make it.” She was jeered at for being visibly queer and got several write-ups for dress code violations. Her pop star fantasy was what kept her going.
Nowadays, the pop star fantasy is REAL – she’s at the top of her makeup artist game and she just took a HUGE step in moving up to Portland to live on her own for the first time and take an amazing job opportunity!
Before she left, though, we had to honor the end of one phase of her life and celebrate the first chapter of another! Immediately, Andi knew she wanted to do something Barbie inspired. Although she definitely sets unrealistic body expectations for women, Barbie is an ICON of hair and makeup, fashion, and showing kids that they could be anything. (How does she hold down all those jobs?!) We rented out The Sunlight Space and created a minimalist pinktastic Barbie dreamhouse set for her to play with. The designer Barbie inspired clothes, purse, and Louboutins (!!!) Andi brought took it to the next level…
We weren’t the only two involved in making the magic happen – I had Alli Marie (a queer HMUA) join us to truly make Andi feel like a real covergirl.
Even though Andi was more than capable of doing her own hair and makeup beforehand, it was important that she got to be the one in the chair. Getting pampered and styled as part of her shoot (and then having her makeup changed for the second concept) gave her time to simply let herself be cared for and celebrated in a way that she wouldn’t be able to do in “real life.”
For the second look, Andi was inspired by the music video for “React” by The Pussycat Dolls.
After Alli transformed her into a sultry seductress, Andi and I went back to my home studio. Between the real-time lighting setup and editing in post, I was able to match the colors and general vibe of the music video with a glamorous Hollywood twist.
Here’s the inspo shot I took from the music video accompanied by my faves of Andi!
Andi felt so empowered by honoring who she is in this way. In a way, it’s like the many iterations of Madonna: she got to thank the most recent version of herself and boldly step into the next.
Andi is proof that living loudly as a queer person is inspiring, and gives those watching from the sidelines permission to do the same. After graduation from that Catholic school, I came out (in many different ways over the years), moved 3000+ miles away from home to pursue my passions, met the love of my life, and now I’m engaged, have my dream job, and am an advocate for and educator about the LGBTQ+ and autistic communities. I wouldn’t have done ANY of that if I hadn’t seen Andi live her truth.
This is why diverse queer representation matters.
This is why The Queer Soul Experience matters.
Imagine young black trans women, or disabled queer people, or two-spirit people finding this project and seeing themselves in my clients. They hear how they’ve created a life where they can thrive as they talk with me about community and universal queer hardships on the Queer Soul Spotlight podcast. For the first time, they will see the vast possibilities of their life ahead of them.
You can help make this possible.
If you’re able, please consider donating to The Queer Soul Fund. 100% of the donations will go to providing this life-changing experience for FREE to queer people who wouldn’t be able to participate otherwise. I’ll be able to compensate the queer artists involved fairly, rent clients’ dream locations, and empower them to be the representation they never saw for future generations of LGBTQ+ folks.
Any amount helps – you can read more and donate HERE: https://gofund.me/5fd7e9ff
Don’t forget to listen to Andi’s episode of The Queer Soul Spotlight podcast! We talk about Pokémon, passing (as the gender you identify with), dressing to feel sexy as a trans women, motivational posters with cats on them, and mourning the years you lost when you come out later in life. She also gives some seriously inspirational advice for anyone on the journey to accepting and loving their authentic selves.
The link opens in Spotify, but The Queer Soul Spotlight is also available on Apple Podcasts and Anchor.
Interested in getting involved with The Queer Soul Experience? Nominate yourself or someone else (starting June 1st 2022) and get more info HERE:
If you want to make an impact and get involved in a different way, you can donate to The Queer Soul Fund to help me give this life changing experience to three LGBTQ+ people for FREE. Be directly responsible for the widespread education about the incredibly diverse LGBTQ+ community and empower queer people to create the representation they never had – any amount helps!
Donate HERE: https://gofund.me/5fd7e9ff
Read about more Queer Soul stars HERE: jennichapmanphotography.com/blog
Follow Andi on Instagram: instagram.com/andivovomua
Follow Alli Marie, who did Andi’s hair and makeup: instagram.com/alliwiththegoodhair