In a world muddled by opinions peddled as end-all-be-all truths, and respect waylaid for self-expression, Camille Co is speaking up on what’s right.
“Do not judge me okay?” says Camille Co with a laugh, puncturing the drawl of the considered and almost clinical quiet like a sharp beam of sunshine that immediately colored the room with a much-needed warmth. Not that there was a need for her to set a seemingly apologetic disclaimer, but she is of course alluding to a peppering of selfies and TikTok videos, all of which were to document what would be her first out-of-the-house shoot since the globally and government-mandated quarantine. “Everything feels so surreal,” she reveals just as she had her rapid test done. “In all honesty, every day is different. I wish it’s all fun and games but reality is, it’s hard to always stay ON during a pandemic. However, I think I’m coping well. I’ve learned to accept the fact that some days will be shitty. Some days won’t be as good. I won’t feel as inspired. I won’t feel okay—and this is totally fine. It’s part of coping. And then there are days when I’m feeling my best, which I make the most out of, definitely.”
Temporarily taking away the context of the times and truth that we currently live in, this day would have been routine for everyone, Camille Co most especially. In it, the drawling drone of the almost mechanical mundane would operate like clockwork with whatever consumes your day. (In this case, a make-it-work shoot at a deceptive shoebox of a studio.) Everything was set in place, where the tradition of the typical would stretch into a sleepy stillness before the creative routine would begin its frenetic frenzied pace. However, the reality is, the times are anything but ordinary. Instead of diving head first into the gratifying grind, heightened safety measures had to be considered before jumping right in, including pleasantries that were now preceded by precaution and at a safe distance.
Perched atop a high stool, Camille now proceeds to peel of the layers of protection she had on: a face mask and an air purifier that hung around her neck in lieu of the usual accessories that would decorate her neck pre-pandemic. As the wash of lights draped itself on her face and the row of cosmetics from Careline were assembled on the table in front of her, it was so strange, but also most refreshing to engage in a conversation with her outside the interface of Instagram or through our lengthy email thread. From more than an arm’s length away, just as her already luminous skin was heightened and highlighted, we brushed up on everything that has happened since the world was turned on its head by the harrowing effects of the healthcare crisis that has crippled even the confidently high and mighty. On her personal and professional end, however, she shares how the pandemic has since shifted the landscape she thrives in, forcing it to rethink everything it has built itself up to be over the years, more so becoming more entrenched on the digital lifestyle they have long been persisting it since their day one.
“I’m amazed at how the industry has adapted. We do Zoom meetings, briefings, and even events now. It’s definitely far from what I expected my 2020 to look like. As a content creator, I must say it has been challenging. Quarantining has definitely squeezed out my creative juices—constantly finding ways to create and inspire in the confines of my home,” she discloses. More importantly, she says, pondering on the compelling case of introspection the past few months have been, Camille Co has since learned a whole lot about herself than she ever thought possible. “I’ve learned to care only about things that truly matter. I feel like I don’t really care as much when it comes to superficial and trivial things,” she says. “I’m more unbothered—in the best sense of the word. I’ve learned to be kind to myself and to focus my energy on things that matter.”
Sign Of The Times
Having gone through so many transformations and incarnations on the virtual space, tracing a trajectory of genesis from Lookbook and Chictopia, to trying to blog and eventually, vlog, it is safe to say that today, Camille Co has confidently come into her own. More than just an enviable social media feed that inadvertently sets you on a fired up liking spree at a glance or generous peeks at her life sans curation on her YouTube videos, one of the OG digital darlings has truly taken the word constantly the word attached to her name and reclaimed it in its purest and essential definition.
“I don’t call myself an influencer. It’s a marketing term used by brands and agencies, and I get why they came up with the term. But for me to personally use it to describe myself kinda feels weird, at least to me,” she writes bravely in an Instagram post some 10 weeks ago at the height of panic and paranoia amid the pandemic, where the country was put through the wringer in all aspects, especially in healthcare and politics. “People always say why don’t you ‘influencers’ use your ‘influence’ to bring awareness about issues around us. I get where you’re coming from. And I do try my best. I’ve been pretty vocal, especially on my Twitter page. But whenever I do speak out, I always get hate from people who don’t share the same opinions and most especially, political views, as me. I don’t need you to agree with me. All I ask is for you to respect my opinion. If you want a conversation that is open and constructive, then I welcome it. We’re all here to learn, TO GET INFORMED. If you don’t want this and all you can do is spew hate and not even bother to get informed about the things you so strongly believe in, then go ahead: ‘I’m unfollowing you,’ they say. Okay. Here’s the door.”
Perhaps one of the tectonic tell-tale signs of the times, this move was unprecedented for Camille Co, who was historically more calculated and thoughtful of her opinions on the public plane. With a command of an audience and a social network that looks up to them, hanging on every word they write or post online, content creators had to turn the corner and keep up. For the numbers that stack up their following, it wasn’t enough to be visible and to funnel information for a wider reach. Now, everyone with a smartphone and connection, needed to break their silence and use this commodity of convenience for a greater good. “I think I’ve definitely grown a lot, especially with the things I share with my community. I’m also more certain of my voice—what I stand for and what I represent,” she says, asserting, “Influence, it’s about having a voice and a platform not necessarily to persuade, but to share.”
With so many repugnant injustices that are rampant and continue to ravage every fiber of humanity’s moral being, it is admittedly a lot to handle, especially since the limits of movement and space make it more concentrated than ever before.
“I’ve been vocal many times on Twitter, but not so much on my other platforms. Now though, I’ve become more vocal across the board. I mean, how can you not? It’s not the time to be silent,” she affirms. “It’s time we get off our high horses and recognize our privilege and show empathy to the people who are affected the most by these injustices. YOU NEED TO CARE—care enough to say and do something about it.”
Long embattled by perceptions and privilege, bloggers, vloggers, influencers, content creators, and what-have-yous, have always struggled to leverage their social access and affluence. So, if you think about it, this recent turn of events is the most opportune time to make sense of it all, not just for their followers, but really, for themselves as stakeholders of a greater world outside the confines of the internet. And in this everyday is a work in progress evolution, Camille Co is taking to the process wholeheartedly, setting herself apart even when all sorts of hate and detraction are thrown her way to invalidate her being informed and involved in the discussion and discourse of our concerning life and times. “Before anything else, I’m a human being who has rights—rights that I should be protecting. I’m a citizen of my country who loves my country and my fellowmen,” she emphasizes. “Just because I like fashion, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t care about anything else. We’re all multi-faceted people. Are we not allowed to think?”
Better Than Basic
In a visual effort to echo the growing brevity and bravery of Camille Co, what was once a barefaced beauty would eventually build to stronger, bolder, and much more definitive looks. From the heated sweeping of the Careline Cosmetics Multi Pot in Magic Spell across her face, the blushing of Abracadabra on her cheeks and the sprucing of the rainbow of mattes and metallics on her eyelids from the Shadow Palette, and finally, that valiant flick of Graph-Ink Liner to defiantly wing out her eyes, it was a strategic movement of products to not only spotlight her ability to shape-shift, but also to echo the settle of conviction on her skin.
Advocating a point-of-view that is better than basic, Camille definitely relates to Careline Cosmetics. “It means not being afraid to be your own version of yourself: Be original. Be unapologetically you,” she says, before professing a sworn love for the Multi Sticks, which are not only versatile and easy to use, but it significantly fuss-free, which is how she describes Camille Co in 2020.
The beauty of this process is that tantamount to the tempest of time, there has been a substantial growth for people who are willing to learn and in turn, pay this responsibility forward to anyone who cares to give a damn. “Contrary to popular troll belief, I read up on these issues as much as I can. We have such huge platforms and it’s only right we do our research first before speaking up. I ask questions to people who might know more than me. I read articles. I search for opinions that are similar and different from mine. I want to make well-informed opinions. And when you’re well-informed, you become braver because you’re backed by facts,” says Camille Co, who at a crucial point admitted that with her level of emotions and empathy, she got so overwhelmed that it took a toll on her health and body. In this necessary exhale; she was able to calibrate how she communicated what is in her heart of hearts. Moving to a future where it is imperative to be involved, this is a learning curve she wants everyone to be acutely cognizant about, because as literature has taught us, it only gets darker before we see the light.
“I must admit, I felt so guilty going offline at first. I felt so guilty having to step back and consciously avoid news that I know would trigger me, but the stress was really affecting my health—up to the point where it actually manifested physically. I felt so selfish, but you have to listen to your mind and body. Your body knows what you need, and mine needed to recuperate,” she relates. “My tip is, listen to your body. And when you’re okay again, dive in but not without understanding your limits.”
In a world where the word essential is harped and hyped out of necessity, this one holds especially true for anyone who is hopelessly and helplessly stuck to their phones in a doomsday scroll. As much as it is actively repositioning itself as a lifeline to resuscitate what has truly expedited the decay of the world, it is important to disconnect every once in a while before it gets the better of you and your all to important mental and emotional health. “Learn to tune out the noise and focus on what matters. Be an unbothered queen,” she says, laughing out loud. “It truly is the key.”
She Is Who She Is
This doesn’t mean that she is callous to the ways of the world, especially in a space where opinions are peddled as truths and respect is often waylaid for self-expression. In fact, she recognizes the fear of being judged, what with the vicious troll that attack her for asserting herself. “I just really want my peace, you know? Because I do get agitated, I do get affected—not by the personal things they’d throw at me. They can insult me all they want. I was more affected by their beliefs and how they think. They baffle me. They really do,” she says. “And as for losing followers, if you don’t think I should have a brain or an opinion or the heart to care about relevant issues that are affecting all of us, then maybe you’re really not supposed to follow me. I want followers who think. I want followers who see me as a person. Not an ad space. Not a mannequin. Not just for your entertainment.”
But one thing is for sure, Camille Co is not afraid to speak up and to be herself, not that she ever was. It’s just this time; she unabashedly, unapologetically, and unequivocally lives it as her truth. If it isn’t clear to anyone who follows her, then you aren’t looking clearly, because despite the constant hovering of worry and glum that hangs over our collective horizon, she is facing the uncertainty of what is yet to come head on in self-assured, self-actualized, and self-accepting beauty.
Judgments be damned, Camille Co is really redefining influence, reclaiming respect when and where it matters, in real life, and perhaps so should you, too.