“The first time I used milk in a video was because I thought it looked like semen, and I thought that was funny,” says Natalie Wynn, otherwise known as the American YouTuber, ContraPoints. She’s chuckling on the other end of the phone as she dispels this Reddit myth that she uses milk in her videos to reclaim it from the alt-right, which has taken to wielding it as a symbol of white supremacy. “There’s a complex semiotics of milk,” she admits, “but why did I pour milk on my face? Was I thinking about its connection to power or sex? I don’t know; I probably just laughed!”
These sorts of elaborate theories aren’t uncommon when it comes to Wynn’s work, and they’re evidence of the intense attention people pay to her videos. Combining humor, drag, and philosophy, she is one of the most incisive and compelling video essayists on YouTube. Her latest video ‘Gender Critical’ (a term radical feminists have taken to using in reaction to being called TERFs [trans-exclusionary radical feminists]) racked up almost half a million views in a day. From the context of comedy to transphobic memes, ContraPoints is doing the seemingly impossible: making nuanced and controversial political debates both sexy and engaging.
Wynn “tinkered” on YouTube for more than a decade before arriving at this formula. To begin with, she was “a minor participant in YouTube atheism content because that’s what you did as a person with opinions in 2008.” But in 2016, she began ContraPoints: a response to the atmosphere she saw building online. “I noticed a surge of political content around GamerGate in 2014, and it was pretty right-wing—or at least anti-progressive,” she tells me, citing a spectrum of content ranging from the centrist to the straight-up Neo-Nazi. She decided to create her own videos, and these “tinker-toy attempts” at deconstructing social justice issues through a left-wing lens soon caught on. More importantly, they became a creative outlet.
Until that point, Wynn, who is now 30-years-old, had devoted much of her life to academia. She was born and raised in Virginia but later moved to Illinois, where she studied for a PhD in Philosophy at Northwestern University. “The idea of being an academic for the rest of my life became boring to the point of existential despair,” she recalls half-jokingly—it’s hard to tell: She later describes her PhD as a “guided tour of history’s most boring homosexuals.”
She describes being fundamentally miserable, juggling numerous jobs to “fund failed artistic attempts.” That’s when she noticed that pseudo-intellectualism was beginning to creep into right-wing discourse, propelled largely by the likes of “phony philosophers like Stefan Molyneux,” whose popularity proved there was an audience for philosophical takes on political issues. “They were selling it to people who craved this kind of commentary, but were just getting into a horrible version of it,” she says. ContraPoints was conceived to balance the political playing field by dissecting issues through a left-wing lens. “That’s one thing I learned in my philosophy training,” she adds, “if you’re writing a paper on Aristotle, you have to first show that you understand him. Then you can make your counterargument.”
Race was a key focus of ContraPoints’ earliest videos. In pursuit of a relationship, Wynn moved to Baltimore after dropping out of college. There she found a city in the midst of “an uprising” after the murder of Freddie Gray—a young, wrongfully-arrested black man who died due to injury in police custody. No officers were charged. Soon, she started seeing “violently, viciously racist” online comments that were being ignored, a fact that frustrated her. “I thought that if people are leaving these comments, they’re thinking these thoughts all the time,” she says. “People told me I was crazy, but then the 2016 US election confirmed that people were voting the same way they were leaving YouTube comments.”
Online radicalization became another key theme in ContraPoints videos. Her essays on ‘decrypting the alt-right’ and incels garnered millions of views, as did her thorough debunking of prominent alt-right commentators like Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson.
“They take these tired, old-fashioned racist reactions and present them as an edgy new thing, and it’s powerful rhetoric,” she says. “They understand how to make these ideas sexy and dress them up for public consumption; what drives me crazy is that the left doesn’t seem to have that intuition on how to publicly present a thought.” The fatal impact of this alt-right rhetoric was laid bare by the recent Christchurch mosque massacres. “People still think these are just memes, just jokes,” she says, her voice heavy with frustration. In a tweet posted in the wake of the tragedy, she wrote: “No satisfaction now, just anger. No one listened.”
Wynn acknowledges that to de-radicalize someone you have to engage with their ideas, but this method isn’t exactly popular. “The only way I was able to make these videos was to have conversations with centrists, or with people that were going in an alt-right direction,” she explains, “I was doing what you’re literally not supposed to do, which is to talk to them.”
This approach is rooted in the understanding that “politics is aesthetics”— in other words, the way you make an argument is as important as the argument itself. “It’s not just about calling someone out and using logic,” she explains, “because there are emotional and psychological reasons that people hold their political convictions. From a psychological standpoint, you have to empathetically enter a person’s world; not just why do they think what they think, but why do they feel what they feel? Repeat that back to them and you can really gain traction.”
As a persuasion strategy, this can be effective, but she describes receiving “credible kickback” from the left in the past “for having any interaction with somebody who is publicly right-wing.” Now she makes a deliberate effort not to publicly have interpersonal contact with them—“I observe them secretly and then report on them in this very controlled video form.”
Some topics are more personal than others. Wynn transitioned as her YouTube career was burgeoning, and she dives deep into subjects like ‘gender critical feminism’ (now synonymous with ‘transphobia’) which require huge amounts of emotional labor to unpack. “I didn’t understand how difficult it would be to transition in the public eye and look back at pre-transition videos—it’s sort of humiliating and painful,” she explains. “I’m eventually going to have to be at peace with it, but I’m not right now.”
On this note, the rising popularity of the ContraPoints channel doesn’t come free of anxiety. It’s hard not to politicize the autonomy she has over her content and her image in a world that often views trans communities through a voyeuristic lens. “I get to decide how much makeup I’m wearing and in what lighting, which is important because there’s this incredibly complicated politics around the physical appearance of trans people,” she explains. Understandably, Wynn is acutely aware that allowing media outlets in requires not only a sacrifice of control but also a huge amount of trust.
She also describes transition as “the final nail in the coffin” of her hopes of becoming a public debater. “To be good at it you have to be confident, assertive, almost a little aggressive. In a trans woman, those qualities will always be read as masculine, so in order to win the debate, you have to lose the debate.”
Comments like these feel out of step with her sharp, sexed-up, and seemingly fearless online persona. “It’s complicated,” she says of the expectation we put on YouTube celebrities (although she laughs when I imply she fits the bill) to allow us unfiltered access to their lives. “I would say I’m a little impersonal—my main persona is an idealized version of myself,” she says. “It’s how I wish I argued in person! I’m actually very timid and nonconfrontational.”
That’s not to say she aims to be aspirational. “You have to put some of the darkness, shame, and self-disgust in there—it’s about having enough of myself in the mix that I feel like I’m being authentic.”
Screenshot from ‘The Aesthetic’
YouTube thrives on the illusion of genuine connection with creators we love. “It allows you to feel like you know this person on the screen, and that’s important for trans people in particular because there just aren’t many of us. As a prominent trans person, you hope that someone feels they know you and then thinks of you at the polls; you hope to impact the way they act when they encounter a trans person in real life.” But with this lack of visibility comes pressure to perfectly represent an entire community. “A lot of trans people place hope in me as a sort of public champion,” she says, “so if I disappoint them it’s like this slap in the face. I’ve been accused of transphobia in the past; people think I could betray them at any moment.”
She describes one particular backlash around ‘The Aesthetic‘—a dialogue video (in which Wynn plays both characters) between Justine, a hyper-feminine trans woman, and Tabby, the “militant radical.” Wynn wanted to “explore ideas without necessarily endorsing them,” but she received backlash for not making her opinions on assimilation and aesthetics clear. “People didn’t like the ambiguity,” she says, “so in the absence of me giving my opinion, they felt they had the right to speculate and assume the worst.”
Ironically, the video—which Wynn reiterates that she’s proud of—actually serves as meta-commentary on the pressures placed on trans women, which are heightened for public-facing trans women. “I’m definitely not claiming any kind of oppression. I want to make it clear that I’m the lucky one,” she says. “But I don’t think people get the intense scrutiny I get from all sides. I do feel like a lot of the criticism I got for that video was unfair.”
Wynn doesn’t claim to speak for an entire community; her views are inevitably shaped by her experience, and as her profile grows she acknowledges that hers will become “less relatable” to a large swathe of people. “Still, I’m not the only one trying to change the negative representation of trans people—there are lots of trans creators out there,” she says.
Incidentally, that was the overarching message of the ‘The Aesthetic’ video. “I guess we can’t win,” the two characters finally agree in exasperation, “do you want to just chill out and watch YouTube videos?”
A mother-of-one has revealed that she’s so dedicated to looking like Barbie, she had a nose job to celebrate the doll’s 60th birthday.
Rachel Evans, 48, from Bromley, South London, says her mantra is ‘life in plastic is fantastic’ and she decided having non-surgical rhinoplasty on Barbie’s birthday was the perfect tribute to the doll.
The £500 surgery, which the boutique assistant has already had once, consists of a surgeon inserting fillers into Rachel’s nose in order to even out the ‘wonkiness’.
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Mother-of-one Rachel Evans, from Bromley, says she lives her life by the mantra: ‘life in plastic, it’s fantastic’ and wants to look as much like her idol Barbie as possible
The procedure, which didn’t require the boutique assistant to go under the knife, costs £500 a time and, says Rachel, has helped to fix her ‘wonky’ nose
The 48-year-old before she began having cosmetic enhancements which have now spiralled to almost £30,000 and include botox, cheek and lip fillers and eye-bag removal
Rachel having thread lifts on the corners of her mouth in another recent procedure
The nose job takes Rachel’s surgery bill so far to £28,000 surgery, with previous procedures including botox, cheek and lip fillers and eye-bag removal.
Alongside her surgery, Rachel is also celebrating Barbie’s birthday by going clubbing on Saturday night with her friends – but will be sticking to mocktails.
Rachel, who also works as a professional ‘Living Fashion Doll’, said: ‘I decided to get the nose job non-surgical rhinoplasty to perfect looking like Barbie – I need to look plastic fantastic.
‘I have always wanted to have it corrected since my teenage years when it was broken, and Barbie’s birthday seemed like the perfect time to do it.’
She added: ‘Every morning I look in the mirror and set about correcting it with makeup tricks, but it gets tedious and time consuming having to apply dark nose-contouring makeup to give the illusion of a straight nose.
The shop worker, who also makes a living as a ‘professional Barbie’ pictured in famous London toy story Hamleys posing in a life-size Barbie box
Rachel timed the procedure to mark her idol Barbie’s 60th birthday – she says she’s doing everything possible to ‘be Barbie’
‘I think having the surgery as a present to myself on Barbie’s birthday was the perfect way to celebrate as it promotes the ‘life in plastic, it’s fantastic’ mantra that I live by.
‘And I feel like Barbie’s creator will be looking down on me proudly on her birthday as I am doing everything possible to be Barbie.’
The surgery comes as part of Rachel’s 16-year-long mission to look as much like the famous doll as possible – which has cost her £28,000 so far.
Operation Barbie: What Rachel has spent so far
Botox – £10,500
Cheek fillers – £3,500
Lip fillers – £3,500
Under eye bags – £1,250
PDO Threadlift – £3,000
Two nose non-surgical rhinoplasty – £1000
Maintenance procedures – £5250
She said: ‘A straight Barbie nose, finishes off nicely other recent surgery I’ve had done: jaw tightening with threads, Botox maintenance, mouth corners turned up for a doll-like perma-smile and lip plumping for a doll pout.
‘Over the years I have had thousands of pounds worth of surgery to go from a tomboy to Barbie, and I’m not going to stop any time soon.
‘There is always some sort of maintenance that can be done to increase my look and I won’t stop until I am the perfect Barbie I know I can be.
‘My facial cosmetic procedures must come first in my life and always have – everything else is put on the back burner, which means I have to sacrifice luxuries like a nice car and holidays, but it’s worth it.’
As well as giving her an excuse to show off her new surgery, Rachel is going clubbing on Saturday night to celebrate Barbie’s birthday in style.
She said: ‘On top of the cosmetic surgery I’m also going to go and celebrate on Saturday.
The Barbie fan is planning on going clubbing to celebrate the doll’s birthday in style this weekend
And the party girl reveals that she doesn’t drink alcohol either, and hopes she’s ‘setting a good example to young people’
‘I will be putting on my best pink, plastic outfit to look as much like Barbie as possible whilst I am out celebrating.
‘I will be drinking Virgin cocktails as Barbie does not drink alcohol and will be shouting ‘Happy 60th birthday Barbie!’ all night.
‘I don’t drink either and I like to set a good example to young people to party responsibly, just like Barbie would. After all: “I’m a Barbie Girl In A Barbie World.”‘
Mariah Carey didn’t hop on the bandwagon of posting her glow-up to Instagram. Nope — Mimi instead made a hilarious point about the ’10-Year Challenge’!
Mariah Carey, 48, is not partaking in the “10-Year Challenge,” and understandably so. It requires social media users to share before and after photos from 2009 and 2018, but Mariah didn’t “glow-up” or “glow-down” — the pop star has served us consistent glam throughout the decades. And it appears she’s not even keeping track of time! “I don’t get this 10 year challenge, time is not something I acknowledge. 🤷♀️,” she posted to Instagram on Jan. 16, along with a “before and after”…of the same picture. “*Picture taken at some point prior to today.” We see you, Mimi.
There’s no need to keep tabs on your throwback photos when you’re Mariah and have maintained ageless beauty! Such was the case when we saw the singer put her rock-hard abs on display with the help of a sparkly pink bikini, something she probably would’ve also worn when “Always Be My Baby” hit radio waves in 1995. Mariah shared the photo, snapped on the Caribbean island of St. Barts, not even a full two weeks ago. She knows she’s still got “it” too, as Mariah often flaunts the goods in complimentary pieces — just like the figure-hugging gown she wore to ring in 2019!
Mariah’s not the only one to have her fun with the “10-Year Challenge,” which started with a Facebook meme that went viral in Jan. 2019. Jennifer Lopez, 49, actually followed the challenge’s guidelines, poking fun at her tum. It underwent a major transformation within a decade, as JLo went from being pregnant with twins (Emme and Max) to showing off her abs in a little yellow bikini for the “Te Guste” music video! And then there was Twitter queen Chrissy Teigen, 33, who threw it back to when she was 23 — but she didn’t focus on herself. “Googled myself in 2009. HOW IS JOHN GONNA LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME,” she tweeted, posting a picture of her and husband John Legend on a red carpet. And yes, 10 years has not made one difference on John.
There are more honorable mentions, as many celebrities answered the call of the “10-Year Challenge”! Anne Hathaway, 36, shared a sweet story of what aging a decade can do to improve your confidence. And then there was Mandy Moore, who hilariously used her character’s elderly face (with the help of theatrical makeup) from This Is Us to show that “these last 10 years have REALLY aged [her].” Keep them coming, everyone.
She divides her time between Dubai and her new life in London.
And Laura Anderson was reminiscing about spending time in sunnier climes on Wednesday, sharing a throwback snapshot of herself looking incredible in a khaki swimsuit during a beach trip.
Showcasing her enviable physique in the simple one piece, the 29-year-old beauty was seen gazing out to sea.
Throwback snap: Laura Anderson was reminiscing about spending time in sunnier climes on Wednesday, sharing a throwback snapshot of herself looking incredible in a khaki swimsuit
She captioned the snap: ‘In my @whitepalmboutique one piece in khaki #dubaiblues take me back to the beach’.
The Love Island star’s sizzling swimsuit image came just after she posted her version of the viral 10-year challenge.
Laura’s flashback photo sees her sporting long brown hair with a questionable quiff and a deep orange tan to match.
The Scottish star posted: ‘Jumping on the #10yearchallenge bandwagon. Yes I had to activate my old Facebook to locate this picture, am I happy about it. So do I look different??? Ps bring the quiff back just for the bants.’
Transformation: The Love Island star’s sizzling swimsuit image came just after she posted her version of the viral 10-year challenge
Her fans were impressed with the transformation, showering her with compliments about how well she has aged.
Last week, Laura looked equally stunning as she shared another bikini picture from her latest trip to Dubai.
The burgundy coloured two-piece was skimpy in design and flattered her figure perfectly as she enjoyed a dip in the sea.
Lovely: Last week, Laura showed off her incredible figure in a sexy burgundy bikini as she enjoyed a refreshing dip in the sea in Dubai
Her latest post was to promote her new business venture, a clothing boutique, called White Palm Boutique.
She captioned the image with the words: ‘All the best swimwear brands at your fingertips. Dresses, co-ords, loungewear coming soon woo!’
Laura sadly split from beau Max Morley just before the New Year.
Beautiful: Laura was showing off her incredible physique in a gorgeous blush pink swimsuit on Tuesday
In the snap, Laura could be seen happily perching on the beach with her amazing figure on display, sporting the tiny pink one-piece that perfectly accentuated her holiday tan.
The Scottish former air hostess had her blonde tresses styled into effortless waves for the outing, while also sporting flawless holiday makeup.
In the caption she told fans that the swimsuit was from her latest collaboration, but also wrote: ‘I post this as I land back into London.’
Turning heads: It came just days after Laura also took to Instagram to post a playful boomerang video of her taut beach physique as she sported a mismatched bikini
It came just days after Laura also took to Instagram to post a playful boomerang video of her taut beach physique as she sported a mismatched bikini.
The revealed two-piece – consisting of a blush coloured top and leopard print bottoms one again highlighted her amazing body.
In the caption she playfully wrote: Whoever says jet lag isn’t a thing shouldn’t be allowed to travel or sleep. My alarm was set for 4am this morning.’
Her sunny break comes after it was reported last month that she had split from beau Max Morley.
Great time: The Scottish former air hostess, 31, has been enjoying some time away in Dubai, after reportedly splitting from beau Max Morley last month
The solo outing comes as Laura and her beau Max split after fears ‘he was unfaithful to her’.
Last month a source told The Sun: ‘It just wasn’t the right time for Laura and Max. They weren’t working so decided to end things sooner rather than later.
‘They were yet to make their relationship official and weren’t boyfriend and girlfriend – but were still meant to be exclusive.
‘Laura doesn’t believe Max was trustworthy and has been told he was disloyal during their time together so has made the decision to block him on Instagram in order to move on.’
Max previously won Love Island in 2015 with Jessica Hayes and the source added that Laura now wants to stay away form former contestants of the reality show in the future.
Done: Last month a source told The Sun: ‘It just wasn’t the right time for Laura and Max. They weren’t working so decided to end things sooner rather than later’
She was spotted watching Canadian tennis star Milos Raonic compete in the Men’s Final of the Brisbane International on Wednesday.
And less than 24 hours later, Belgian model Camille Ringoir, 25, was once again seen supporting the athlete.
The glamorous brunette put on a very leggy display in a pair of denim cutoff shorts as she strutted through the backstage area of the Queensland Tennis Centre on Thursday.
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Looking ace! Canadian tennis star Milos Raonic’s new model girlfriend Camille Ringoir, 25, put on a leggy display in cutoff shorts as she supported him at the Brisbane International on Thursday
She also opted for a light and breezy one-shoulder floral blouse, perfect for the humid, subtropical climate of Queensland’s capital.
The model added a hint of glamour to her relaxed look as she was seen carrying a gold chain strap designer bag over her lithe shoulder.
She also made her way around in the arena in a pair of comfortable white tennis shoes.
Low-profile: Perhaps in an attempt to keep a low-profile, Camille wore minimal makeup on her visage and swept her chestnut locks up into a low, messy bun
Perhaps in an attempt to keep a low-profile, Camille wore minimal makeup on her visage and swept her chestnut locks up into a low, messy bun.
Earlier on Wednesday, Camille was spotted watching Milos as he defeated Serbian player, Miomir Kecmanović.
While the couple are yet to comment on their relationship, an insider told Tennisplaza in September 2018 that they were ‘intimately dating’.
Red hot! It’s no surprise Camille managed to catch Milos’ eye. The model has graced the covers of Elle Czech, Marie Claire Belgium and Elle Singapore, and has also featured in several lingerie campaigns
‘Camille was at the US Open in Milos’ box on Sunday. The two are recently a couple or at least intimately dating,’ the source said at the time.
Adding fuel to the rumours is the fact that Milos and Camille shared similar Instagram photos of themselves posing with kangaroos in Brisbane on Monday.
Eagle-eyed fans have also noticed that the pair follow each other on social media.
Is this proof they’re dating? Milos and Camille shared similar Instagram photos of themselves posing with kangaroos in Brisbane on Monday
Meanwhile, it’s no surprise that Camille managed to catch Milos’ eye.
The model has graced the covers of Elle Czech, Marie Claire Belgium and Elle Singapore, and has also featured in several lingerie campaigns.
She began modelling aged 13, signing a contract with prestigious Belgian agency Dominique Models.
Natural beauty: Camille began modelling aged 13, signing a contract with prestigious Belgian agency Dominique Models
Busted! Eagle-eyed fans have also noticed the pair follow each other on Instagram
Camille’s appearance at the Brisbane International comes after Milos’ former flame Danielle Knudson was spotted supporting her then-boyfriend at the same tournament in previous years.
Milos split from Danielle early last year.
Following the couple’s breakup, Danielle went on to date Brazilian soccer player, Alexandre Pato.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Milos Raonic for comment.
Déjà vu? Camille’s appearance at the Brisbane International comes after Milos’ former flame Danielle Knudson was spotted supporting her then-boyfriend at the same tournament in previous years. Pictured at the 2016 Brisbane International on January 10, 2016