Being dark skinned is beautiful: Mr Jovita George
Mr Jovita George-yes you read that right- is one of the most loved Indian YouTubers today. A Malayalee residing in Kuwait, Jovita makes videos on fashion, makeup, relationships, and travel. This former Engineer has had an interesting trajectory; she was a software professional who quit her job to do what she loved; Fashion. And, from 2010 she started making YouTube videos on everything fashion and makeup. However, a recurring aspect of her videos makes her stand apart from others; her motivating monologues about being comfortable in one’s own skin. Being bullied as a kid for being dark-skinned, Jovita uses her YouTube platform to give confidence to many other dark-skinned women who have had to bear taunts on a daily basis. In an interview with Cindrebay, this YouTuber speaks about her personal experiences, her fashion choices, make up mistakes, and Snuggles, her cat who keeps making cameos in her videos.
Was a profession in fashion and make up your first choice?
No, it took me a decade to make that transition. I am an Engineer, and worked in the software industry for quite sometime. After a while, I realised this is not what I want to do. I am a creative person and felt constrained sitting in a cubicle looking at codes and numbers all day. But luckily at the age of 19, I won the Miss Kerala pageant and that opened a lot of doors for me. I did modelling, learnt a lot about fashion, styling, and rules of good photography. Soon after, I began my blog, and then the YouTube channel, and my current job is also associated with fashion.
What attracts you to the field of fashion, and keeps you motivated?
I read a lot, and I love fashion magazines. I go crazy going through the magazines looking at the latest trends. I am more of a fashion person than a makeup person. My style icons have been, among others, Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn. I get inspired by creative people. I love creativity and when I get to know that a person has thought something unique and creative, I am in so awe of that person and I get inspired to do something creative of my own.
Why did you choose this interesting name, Mr Jovita George?
In October 2010, I realised there was this whole new world of Youtube, where people make videos and upload them for others to see. I got addicted to make up videos, and I got interested in many makeup gurus. I would watch the videos and would want to comment on them. So I decided to create my own YouTube account. But my name was already taken, and among the suggested names was Mr Jovita George. So I was like well if YouTube wants me to be Mr Jovita George, so be it! A lot of people think that I have made a mistake and politely try to correct me!
What prompted you to start making fashion-related YouTube videos?
I stay in Kuwait, and just before I started making videos the job scene in Kuwait was very bad. So, I thought let me try and become a makeup blogger and thus began my journey with YouTube. My last job was as a Marketing Manager and Creative Art Director.
How do you get ready before making a video? What are the various steps undertaken?
Getting ready before a video is a time-consuming process! I usually take longer to prepare for the video than film the actual video itself. Researching, planning, practising the video idea is a part of most videos. Then the actual technical set up, from the backdrop, lights, camera, feedback to the makeup. It’s a long procedure since unlike a TV show, this is all a one- man army.
Was it easy to put yourself out there, considering that Internet can be a cruel place?
It was easy in the beginning because I really didn’t expect many people to watch my videos, but as my channel grew, it definitely exposed me to a lot of different kinds of people. But for the most part, I don’t find it too hard anyways.
How do you deal with the mean comments and negativity that has become such an integral part of a Youtuber’s life? Has any comment hurt you real bad?
Hate comments, in my opinion, are just a way for some people to gain attention. So I really don’t look too much into that. And other times, some people genuinely dislike you and they are vocal about it. I’m cool with that too because you really can’t expect everyone to like you.
Your videos speak a lot about the harassment that dark-skinned women go through. Does this stem from your personal experience, or did the idea come to you later?
Quite often when I upload pictures or videos I often get remarks like ‘you are so confident, I wish I was like that!’ But that’s what I put forward on the net-my confident face. People don’t know that I have been bullied because of my skin colour.
As a kid, I was a happy girl. Soon, as I turned six, my classmates started taunting me calling me ugly because I am dark-skinned. I had sleepless nights, and would cry myself to sleep. Then in 2005, I won the Miss Kerala pageant and so many people came up to me and said that I inspired them.
There is this pre-conceived notion in India that one can be successful and have a good life only if they are fair! Our matrimonial sites are full of demands for ‘fair’ girls. That is an important requirement! One of the irritating things that perpetuate this perceived connection between fair skin and success are the offensive whitening cream advertisements we see on television. Someone is going for a job and gets rejected because she is not fair enough. Then, she applies a whitening cream, and gets the job!
God created us differently, he made some people white, and some people brown. I have often noticed Indian women tend to wear foundation much lighter than their skin tone. That is uncalled for. I remember receiving this comment on one of my videos; “Americans go out in the sun to get tanned, what’s wrong if a brown-skinned person wants to use a lighter foundation?” I will tell you what’s wrong! A white skinned person can get rid of that tan eventually, but the colour of a brown-skinned person will not change! Why put this notion in the minds of young teens that they will not get success if they are not of a certain skin tone? Everyone is beautiful in their own way.
I get a lot of requests, asking me to do a video on how to alter skin colour! Sometimes, I even get comments on my channel saying that I dirty, and that I should go take a bath. Imagine saying the same thing to a teen.
By the way, dark skin people are very photogenic!
There is a lot of emphasis on flawless skin among Indians. A small acne issue is also constantly brought up, affecting the self-esteem of many young girls and boys. Thus, do you think that many Indians use makeup as a cover rather than enjoying the process and the outcome?
Flawless skin is something that is craved by everyone, disregarding gender, age and ethnicity. A small acne distresses women of all ages and all nationality. So, some women apply makeup because they enjoy the process, some women feel more confident in makeup, and some women wear it to cover their insecurities. Everyone has their reasons, I think it is unfair to generalise Indian women into a certain category.
When compared to American and European women, do you think Indian women still have a long way to go before they can master the art of makeup?
Not at all. Every culture and country have their idea of makeup. Indian women believe in natural beauty. And we have excelled the art of that.
What are three most common mistakes you think women in India do when it comes to making up?
During my modelling days, there were times when I had to do my own makeup. I was quite a novice at that time and ended up looking pretty bad. But I learnt how to do better makeup over time.
These are three mistakes I see many Indian women making.
- Indian women are not heavy daily makeup wearers. I don’t think everyone wears foundation on a daily basis. However, they do love their Kohl pencils! And one mistake they do is that they layer their lower water line with too much Kohl without working on their brows or eye lashes. This makes their eyes look droopy. First of all, for the Kohl to look good, one really needs to correct their dark circles. And, then apply a little mascara on the top and bottom, just to balance the look.
- Another mistake is related to hyperpigmentation. Pigmentation looks even more pronounced on dark skin. It is not something to be ashamed of, and can easily be taken care off with makeup. Also, to cover hyper pigmentation like acne scars, or marks, invest in a good colour corrector. In India, Loreal has some. One can also find colour correctors in Make Up Forever, Nyx, among others. This will help you give a more even look. I have also seen a lot of ladies applying concealer on their dark circles directly. It makes the circles look grey and patchy. Also, do not use lighter concealer on dark circles.
- Another big mistake is using foundation lighter than your skin. First of all, it is extremely difficult to get a foundation that suits dark-skinned women in India. And many a time they end up wearing foundation that is a shade lighter, which simply doesn’t look good. Also, those selling them the products in the store have no idea about the products, thereby confusing the customer even more. Do not wear foundation that is a shade lighter!
Coming to make up again, what are your favourite International and Indian makeup products and brands and why?
I love NARS, Tarte, Colorbar, Sugar, NYX, Makeup Revolution, Urban Decay, Ofra, Gerard Cosmetics, Fashion Fair, Iman, and so much more. I use only cruelty-free makeup.
What suggestions do you have for someone just starting to experiment with makeup?
Practise, Practise, Practise.
What does your daily make up routine look like?
I do not wear foundation on a daily basis. Usually, just start by applying a little concealer, mascara, simple liner. But if have time then I go in for a foundation, contour, blush, and of course mascara.
Do you feel cathartic sharing such intimate details about your life with strangers, and in a way influencing someone who must be going through a similar phase in their lives?
I don’t really share very intimate details of my life with the internet. I’m actually a very private person. I only share issues that can change the viewpoint of my viewers or something that would help my viewers.
What has been the most heartfelt or emotional response you have ever gotten by your viewers?
I really can’t pinpoint on a single comment, because I really do get a lot of amazing heart felt comments that I hold dear to my heart.
What advice do you have for up and coming YouTubers?
Be consistence! That is something I learnt the hard way. I wasn’t very consistent when I started off. Also, put original content out there, be inspired but don’t copy.
Finally, what are your future plans with regard to your channel?
Really don’t have many plans. I take it as I go.
Pics Courtesy: Mr. Jovita George
Mr Jovita George Youtube channel