Final Project-Jackie- Post 2/6

December 16, 2019 at 3:38 am 1 comment

Michelle Phan


Michelle Phan was the first-ever beauty guru on Youtube. Phan started in 2007, her first video being “Natural Looking Makeup Tutorial,” which was followed by multiple videos on specific makeup techniques, like doing concealer or eyebrows.[1] Phan’s video became so popular because not only was she the first beauty Youtuber ever, she was also the first woman to demonstrate makeup tutorials as an Asian American. This attracted many young female viewers and specifically Asian American female viewers, as they could finally learn to do makeup on a face like their own. Phan now has 385 videos, 8.2 million subscribers, and over 1.1 billion total views, and is number four in the top ten beauty gurus of Youtube.[2]

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Phan does address her AAPI identity on her Youtube, but it is not the focus of her channel. In a video titled “Why I Left,” she describes how her mom worked in a nail salon and her family struggled to make ends meet.[3] Phan felt a lot of pressure from her mom to be a doctor, but instead, Phan went to art school and eventually found a successful career on Youtube. She describes the immense pressure she felt from her family to be successful and what it was like to go against her family and pursue her own dreams, a topic that many first-generation Asian Americans might relate to. Phan sets an example of the great payoff of following your dreams and being successful on your own terms.

Since Phan’s success with her makeup videos, she has expanded her platform to create lifestyle and advice videos to make a positive impact on young, impressionable viewers. While she still posts beauty videos, she also has two series called “Career Talk” and “Pillow Talk.”[4][5] In Career Talk, Phan gives internship advice.[6] Because Phan focuses on internships rather than full careers, her target audience is high schoolers and college students. Pillow Talk is an advice series for young viewers, where Phan discusses everything from acne, cyber-bullying and social anxiety to parent expectations, breakups, and rejection.[7] Phan has moved on from just being a makeup channel to being an online space for young viewers to visit when they need parental guidance that they might not get at home. Phan’s target audience started as AAPI women and has evolved to young people of all ethnicities. The accessibility of Youtube has allowed Phan to impact a broad audience and represent Asian American beauty Youtubers. Lori Lopez, author of Routledge Companion to Asian to Asian American Media, argues that “the successes of Asian American YouTubers has often been located at the level of the talented few, but that these highly visible celebrities are using their digital networks to call attention to Asian Americans working in both mainstream and independent media.”[8] Lopez’s point applies to Phan, as she is in every top ten list of best beauty guru’s on Youtube. As the first beauty Youtuber ever, she started the Asian American beauty community and made it a norm for Asian Americans to participate in it.


[1] Michelle Phan, “Michelle Phan- Youtube,” Youtube, last modified December 8, 2019, accessed December 14, 2019,
[2] Ibid.
[3] Michelle Phan, “Why I Left,” Youtube (videoblog), entry posted June 1, 2017, accessed December 14, 2019,
[4] Michelle Phan, “Career Talk,” Youtube (videoblog), entry posted December 19, 2016, accessed December 14, 2019,
[5] Michelle Phan, “Pillow Talk,” Youtube (blog), entry posted April 11, 2016, accessed December 14, 2019,
[6] Phan, “Career Talk,” Youtube (videoblog).
[7] Phan, “Pillow Talk,” Youtube (blog).
[8] Lopez, Lori Kido, and Vincent N Pham, eds. The Routledge Companion to Asian American Media. New York, NY: Routledge, 2017. 2017. Accessed December 14, 2019.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Final Project- Jackie- Post 1/6 Final Project- Jackie- Post 3/6

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. asianamericansinmedia  |  December 24, 2019 at 2:47 am

    I am happy to see you beginning to bring in Asian American scholarship on social media in this post. For someone like Phan, whose biography is quite well know, I do not think you need to devote as much of your post to telling the reader who she is. I would rather you use this post to critically analyze her media practice, and discuss how she relates to your overall thesis argument in this project.

    Prof Ma


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