“Vamos a comenzar!” Let’s get started!
That’s how beauty guru Monica Veloz begins each of her YouTube videos, welcoming viewers into her world of fashion, hair, and makeup.
Growing up in the Bushwick neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY, Monica was raised in a Dominican household, with both her mother and father reigning from the Dominican Republic. She notes that as a child, it was a necessity to speak Spanish in order to communicate with her family. She later learned English as she went through school, alongside her brother Juan.
Monica began her YouTube channel in October 2012 as a celebration of her culture. She recalls watching telenovelas with her family and noting that no one on TV ever looked like her. She is a black woman who speaks Spanish, yet most of the actresses featured on those programs had lighter skin. She also noticed that there was no one of social media that shared her same features either. Instead of waiting for someone to represent her ethnicity, Monica became that figure for young girls around the globe.
Though she constantly speaks about embracing her Dominican culture, Monica finds that most of her criticism is focused on the color of her skin. When she released her “Latina Tag” video in March 2015, she spoke about her upbringing in a bilingual household. However, some viewers turned the Latina label into a controversial topic, stating that her skin was too dark to be Dominican and that she was neglecting her African American roots. As a response, she upload a video title “I am too Dark To Be Dominican” in July 2016. Monica turned the backlash into a powerful statement, noting that she was proud of her culture and the way she looked. She wanted to be able to represent other young women across the world who may be afraid to embrace their Hispanic heritage due to the color of their skin.
Monica has continued to be an inspiration for young Afro-Latina women almost 5 years later. Her channel features a variety of videos focused on makeup routines for women with dark skin. She also uploads fashion hauls, hair styling tutorials, and the occasional vlog which gives a raw inside look into her life. In 2016, Monica submitted a video to E! network’s Style Contributor contest, landing her in the top 15 contestants out of 250 total entries. A few months later, she became a brand ambassador for L’Oreal as part of the “L’Oreal League.” This league was a yearlong program that featured 14 other digital influencers alongside former Miss USA Olivia Culpo.