Some things we believe at PAPER: age has nothing to do with talent, beauty, or hustle, and being an outsider makes you better than an insider: it makes you interesting. True creatives can make beauty from anything, from any circumstance, and they can push just a little further than everyone else. The most inspiring people we interview here, profile, and work with see the line that most people aspire to reach and they cross it - and go on, and further than anyone else. Every woman is an icon if you give her a chance to share her tale. This mantra is something we share with Kat Von D, which is why we teamed up again to showcase seven women across age groups, race, class, et cetera, to make that point as obvious as if it was tattooed on our foreheads. To prove this point - to showcase all these women, and to celebrate their stories of crossing some line of struggle presented to them, we gave them all Kat Von D's Tattoo Liner to test out while we interviewed them about success, beauty, failure, and life itself. How do they hustle? How do they thrive against the odds? If anyone can shine a light on these questions, it's the women below: Baddie Winkle, Beverly Johnson, Susanne Bartsch, Carmen Carrera, Dai Burger, Chantel Jeffries, and Kennedy Grace. From elderly Instagram sensations, teen Vine stars, the reigning mom of the underground and more, these women made space for themselves in a world that doesn't ever expect women to do so.
Here are six questions for seven women - across different phases of womanhood, careers, beauty practices, love lives, and more.
You're all from different ages and stages in life. So I've got to ask: what do you think age has to do with beauty?
Baddie Winkle, 87: Age doesn't have a thing to do with beauty, not one thing. Different people have different styles, and makeup of course helps a lot with beauty, and with age actually. You're beautiful from a baby until you're in your casket, and sometimes when you're in your casket you look more beautiful than you did when you were alive [laughs].
Susanne Bartsch, 48: Beauty is ageless. I'm ageless, beauty is ageless. Aren't I beautiful, darling?
Beverly Johnson, 63: Beauty is this discovery that goes on in you - taking something from the old and mixing it in with the new. It makes you feel brand new in a sense. As aging goes, it's just something we all do. Aging is pretty cool in the sense that we are all healthier, living longer, we look amazing. We just want to be our best selves and have a sense of well-being.
What advice do you have for young creatives who are struggling maybe in the same ways you have so far?
Dai Burger, 28: Push past it. Don't ever think that anything's too much. Too much is what lets you stand out from the crowd. Crossing that line - your doubt - gets you noticed and can become a thing of its own. If you're doing too much of something, other people are doing kinda nothing. Keep up that too much and embrace it! Make it yours and you shall succeed.
Susanne Bartsch: First you have to figure out why you are afraid or struggling. It probably has nothing to do with what you want to do. Once you figure out what your fear is, you must face it. Play the game. Losing or winning isn't important - you just have to play. Be afraid, but don't let that fear stop you. Don't let that fear ruin your life.
Carmen Carrera, 31: Number one is you have to absolutely find your safe haven. You have to find someone or a group of people that will keep you grounded. That's number one. I feel like a lot of the times in my own past, I would use makeup or clothing as a shield. Before my transition, I wanted to be in drag 24/7. At that point, it wasn't safe to do that! Because people are going to be rude and I had to accept that. It was more about being rebellious and saying look at my make-up skills, look how good I look, don't tell me I'm wrong. You have to figure out how you're going to use beauty to either protect or enhance you. It was all about that rebellion. Using beauty as a weapon.
Dai Burger: It is, it is a weapon. It's a secret weapon. If it helps you bring out that confidence, then go get your weapons, load up. Aim, shoot.
Baddie Winkle: [And] Pray for the basics.
Approaches to beauty totally change over time and experience. That's a good question for all of you: how has your approach to makeup and beauty changed through the phases of your life?
Kennedy Grace, 20: I cut off all my hair a year ago - and it was a drastic change, because a lot of people used to know me only as the girl with the cool hair. I had no personality behind that. So I thought: "Well, if I cut it all off, who am I? I want to be a person." So I shaved it all off. It was liberating.
Chantel Jeffries, 23: I'm constantly changing my look and trying to be different. I've had this natural hair color for awhile, but I'll probably go dark soon, which is a big change for me. When I was younger I loved the Kim Kardashian long, dark hair, so I had that but I've recently cut it and switched up the color, and I might add a faux freckle. I'm always ready for a change. One day I might have a sleeve, you never know.
Baddie Winkle: I grew up in the Depression and then, we didn't have a lot of makeup to choose from. It was very limited. So girls would get together on a Saturday afternoon and do their makeup. We had to improvise. Now, you have different products and it's mindboggling.
Susanne Bartsch: I used to dress to the heels and the wigs - when I first came to New York, I was in the fashion business, but now I dress to the makeup. Makeup is the ultimate tool of transformation. You can be anything you want on any given day. It's painting, it's an art. It's my art form. I don't dance, I'm not a singer - so this is my art form. I try to go as far as I can with it, as far as I feel good in it.
What kind of beauty routine do you do when you want to feel extra good and take care of yourself?
Dai Burger: Before I perform, it's all in the eyes for me. I've been rocking the cat eye from youth. It's kinda my thing. I'm not complete without it.
Chantel Jeffries: I definitely like a winged liner when I'm trying to put my best foot forward. I sometimes get stressed about how I'm going to do it and get them to match - I feel like cat liner is something we haven't mastered as a human species yet. On a good day, I get it in one swoop and that's when I know it's going to be an A1 day.
Kennedy Grace: When I want to look confident I do a red lip, thick wing, and dark brows. Really simple and edgy. Eyeliner is like a little paint brush. It inspires you to make your face on fleek. It's line work. It's like tattooing - eyeliner and lip liner have to be so precise. Now that I'm learning how to tattoo, I see they're so similar. It's all about precision. Kat has actually been a huge inspiration to me for forever, so I started tattooing and have some clientele and now see eyeliner is so much like tattooing. They both make a look your own.
And how do you know when there's something you need to change - when you have a mental block on how to move forward?
Chantel Jeffries: I like to be fluid and change all the time. There's nothing that I see that I'm like, "There's no way I'd ever be doing that, look like that, do that with my hair." I feel like I'm always ready for change. You have to take life with flexibility.
Carmen Carrera: When I was younger and going through things, I would run away. I used to look for something else to focus on. I just would not deal. I couldn't do anything constructive. But now, I try to be the best example for my kids. I pick up when they do things that I've done and I know I influence their character and how they interact with people. It's awesome to see that in them, so that helps me be right and move forward. I want to set an example for my kids, and I want to prove the stereotypes and stigmas wrong of what it means to be a transwoman.
Beverly Johnson: I like to think of myself as someone who can let go and be anxious to see what's coming next and saying yes to all possibilities. It's exciting to enhance yourself and to try different things to express who you are in the very moment. It takes a lot of moving parts and a sense of discovery to keep evolving. I have a few girlfriends who still have the 70's hairstyle [when we were new models] and that one makeup color or lipstick they refuse to let go of. But I'm really interested in seeing how other people - these makeup artists on the shoot today - see me, and that way I learn a little bit about myself that I maybe didn't see in myself before.
What does crossing the line mean to you?
Dai Burger: Crossing the bridge of rough waters – I can see the other side, and getting there is scary, but it's right there, so I'm going to cross it and take what's mine. You can't let your fears prevent you from your dreams. Go for it.
Beverly Johnson: I do feel that is one of the benefits of growing old and aging and particularly the aging of one's soul that you find a strength there that wasn't there twenty years ago or 40 years ago. And I think that seeing very courageous women come out and tell a story that is anything but glamorous - that is a benefit. The lines are moving all the time, and I think that women are finally having a voice and using their voice. I recently came out and spoke about an encounter that has been the lightning rod for a subject that we've been having on violence against women. And you see where the line was at a certain point at a time, and now the line has moved and the needle has moved in a sense of that kind of tolerance that women once stood for that they aren't going to be standing for anymore. I think it's really important. I feel that being able to cross that unspeakable line, moving it, builds such a sense of character.