Exploring Fame Through “Layers of Me” by NikkieTutorials

Abigail C. '21, Editor-In-Chief

What is it really like to be famous? This is the question explored in the “Layers of Me” docuseries by Nikkie de Jager, a Dutch makeup guru better known as NikkieTutorials. This series explored what it is like to become famous, the pressures of being in the public life, work-life balance, and grief. It provides a great glimpse into the life of the famous, and how it isn’t as glamorous as it seems.

De Jager has been a part of the YouTube makeup community since 2008 and really began to take off after releasing her viral video “The Power of Makeup.” Since then, she has amassed almost 14 million subscribers and made over 800 videos.

In this four-part documentary series, de Jager had her best friend, Linda Hakeboom, record her daily life for two-and-a-half years. During this time she build a new house, filmed videos, came out as transgender, partnered with makeup companies, and watched her brother battle cancer and pass away.

At only 25 years old, many viewers believe her life must be perfect, but this series drew back the curtain to reveal the darker side of fame.

Nikkie de Jager
“When views are low, you try to figure out why they are low and how to fix it,” said de Jager. “It’s constantly this game of evolving yourself, constantly finding new trends, finding new ways of getting re-inspired.”

The first episode, named “Peeling Back the Past”, begins by exploring the constant anxiety influencers have of their audience forgetting about them. 

As a public figure, her entire career is built on other people wanting to hear what she has to say. As she sits on the floor of her hotel room, in sweats and without makeup, she is visibly anxious about how few “likes” her recent instagram post received.

“I think it’s everyone’s biggest fear that one day it’s [her fame is] all over,” she said.

Later, de Jager begins discussing her childhood. She was teased for being tall and overweight, so she gravitated towards makeup. For her first YouTube video, she stole her mother’s camera and put it on top of a box. She couldn’t have imagined that this was the beginning of her passion, and her career.

After clips of her first YouTube videos, de Jager walks through the production facility of her own makeup line. As she samples makeup, it becomes clear how knowledgeable she is on the subject.

The next episode was called “The Pressure to Perform.” It opened with de Jager again anxious in a hotel room, this time about how her newest video will perform. Seeing that the video did well, her mood immediately changed.

Her manager explained that this reaction is only normal. “Nikkie creates every day, and everything she puts out there is being judged by numbers and comments,” he said. “So there is pressure to act and be the perfect person. And you have people judging your work all the time.”

It’s like he is the strongest little man I have ever met in my life”

— Nikki de Jager

This quote really encapsulates the pressure that comes with sharing your passions with the world. Everyone has the ability to criticize her for everything she does, so it is easy to become obsessed with how people will react to her work.

Later, she talks about her brother, Mikai. On Christmas Eve, they learn that the lump on his knee is cancerous. The entire time he had chemo, he was optimistic and strong, never complaining.

“It’s like he is the strongest little man I have ever met in my life,” said de Jager.

To avoid thinking about her brother’s health, de Jager throws herself into her work. One day, she gets a phone call from her mother saying that her brother has taken a turn for the worse. He holds out just long enough for his sister to fly home to see him.

The next episode, “Losing My Little Brother,” discusses how she coped with her brother’s death. 

“When he passed, I remember really ignoring the situation by work…” she said. “If I am going to let all of this in, it’s going to break me. I would rather not feel and be able to keep pushing then let it all in.”

Nikkie de Jager
“What’s so interesting about the industry nowadays is that people enter this industry to become an influencer or to make money. But the thing is, when I started my channel, I was 14 years old and there was no money… so it truly started from passion,” said de Jager.

As she finally takes time to grieve, de Jager reflects on her relationship with her fiance, Dylan. She feels guilty for thrusting him into the public’s attention and that they can’t do things normal couples can because she is so recognizable.

“There are times when I wake up and I’m like… Why do I have to be this example? I don’t want to be an example today,” she said.

The last episode is named “Finally Revealing My Secret.” In this episode she discusses what it was like to come out to the world as transgender.

She leverages the positive reaction this receives to become a Dutch Ambassador to the United Nations so she can spread the message of being your authentic self.

The last video ends with a montage of fans thanking her for her channel and message.

This series provided a really unique peek into what it really feels like to be under the public eye. It can be so stressful to have everyone judge your work and look to you as an example, and this series really helped illustrate what this feels like.

It also gave the perspective of someone who began doing something for the love of it, and then it became their career. She began YouTube as a child when there were no ads or monetization. Unlike children who begin YouTube today with hopes of fame and money, de Jager never asked for fame.

I think one clip from behind-the-scenes of her collaboration with Drew Barrymore really explains de Jager as a person. Barrymore said, “I can tell you have a great confidence that doesn’t have arrogance.”

This is a great example of how to be a genuine person who wants to make a change in the world, find work-life balance, and remain their authentic self while under the public eye. I would recommend that anyone who has dreams of becoming famous watch this series to understand what fame really means and how to handle it properly.