Nikki Garza on inspiration, representation and feeling comfortable in her own skin

Take Pride: Meet Nikki Garza, the unabashedly gorgeous (and hilarious) babe that you may have seen on your TikTok feed. Promoting body positivity and IDGAF vibes to trolls, the ATL resident calls herself a fat activist. Here, she dishes on what she wants to see from the beauty industry and what drew her into the biz.

1: What drew you to makeup & beauty?

NG: My first memory of being drawn to makeup was because of my grandmother. I remember spending summers with her and just watching in awe as she got ready for the day. I would sit on her bed as she sat at her vanity and would put on her red lipstick and Elizabeth Arden Red Door perfume in her rollers. My grandmother was a very glamorous woman. Even as she got older, her sense of style was impeccable.

2. How did makeup help you find yourself?

NG: Growing up fat, makeup was always a way to explore my individuality in a way that fashion wouldn't let me. Majority of the trending fashion during my formative years were out of my size, so I could use makeup as a way to figure out who I was.

3. What is your favorite application technique or beauty trick?

NG: I am just a go-for-it type of gal when it comes to liquid eyeliner application. I truly feel that liquid eyeliner knows when you're scared of it. Also, it's just makeup! If you mess up or don't like the look, you can always wipe it off and do it again.

4. What is your desert island can’t-live-without beauty product?

NG: SUNSCREEN! I definitely hopped on late to the whole wearing sunscreen train. I grew up in South Florida and worked on a cruise ship for many years. I wished someone would have slapped me and told me to wear that sunscreen. They probably did, but I wished that I would have listened.

5. When do you feel most comfortable in your skin?

NG: When I have been taking care of myself in all ways, mentally, physically, emotionally. Sometimes I get so caught up in what I have going on that I fail to check in with myself. Those times where I'm like, "whoa let's slow down, and recharge." Especially right now it's been days where I can hang out with my close friends and just bask in their company.

6. What are the top 3 songs on your get ready playlist?

NG: I HAVE TO PICK ONLY 3?!? I'll give you five. Britney Spears 'Piece of Me,' Megan Thee Stallion 'Girls in the Hood,' Robyn 'Dancing on my Own,' Nicki Minaj "Chun Li,' Elle King & Miranda Lambert 'Drunk'.

7. Representation is so important. What do you feel is lacking in the beauty space?

NG: GIVE ME FAT FOLKS IN BEAUTY CAMPAIGNS! I want to see fat folks of all gender expressions and races. PLEASE!

8. Who/what inspired you to get into the beauty biz?

NG: It feels weird to say that I am in the beauty space. I love makeup because I see it as an extension of creating with self, but it always throws me off guard when I get folks asking me for a hairstyle or makeup tutorial. Like you want me to show you? ME?!? The first person I remember truly following was Nicole Guerriero. I loved her humor, how she really played with makeup, it wasn't so serious, and of course she was a Florida gal like me.

9. What is one thing people may be surprised to learn about you?

NG: I was set to go to grad school to get my MBA and 3 months before classes started I decided to drop out and move to South Africa and teach theatre. I realized that I was going to grad school based on others' expectations of me, and the more I thought about it the more I realized it wasn't for me. So off to Africa I went.

10. Fill in the blank: I love makeup because it makes me feel ______.

NG: Empowered. It lets my face be a canvas to whatever ideas are swirling about my head.

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