Social media sensation Clawdeena lives her best life in DeLand

By : Amanda Espinosa
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Clawdeena is the name of a Monster High doll, but to the 19-year-old YouTube sensation who shares that name, it’s more. It’s the name that allows her to confidently express her true self in her day-to-day life.

Clawdeena created her feminine alter-ego after finding a love for recreating her doll’s looks and a passion for entertaining others. At first, being a 14-year-old with a love for makeup who had a father as a pastor and mother as an ordained minister was a tough situation. “When I first came out, it was very anxiety inducing,” Clawdeena says. “I came out to my sister first and she was very understanding and helped me come out to my parents. When I came out I was really shocked because they had no issue. I was more worried about my dad having an issue and he was the one who was like ‘you know I’ll love you no matter what, I don’t care.’”

After coming out to a very accepting family, Clawdeena expanded her love for makeup with a YouTube channel. “Clawdeena9,” her YouTube channel with more than 450,000 subscribers, is a platform for her to express her true self and share her love for makeup. It’s also a place she can advocate for others in the LGBTQ community who want to come out but might need guidance doing so.

“In terms of advice for viewers, or anybody who may be struggling to come out, it’s ultimately about self-love and self-acceptance and you only live one life,” Clawdeena says. “That’s how I always viewed myself. I live my life for myself.”

Clawdeena enjoys the makeup, pink hair and dressing up, but many confuse this for her identifying as a drag queen. After years of figuring herself out and how she self-identifies, Clawdeena says she’s still exploring this.

“As I figured myself out, I no longer self-identified as a drag queen,” Clawdeena says. “For me, I feel misidentified. I absolutely love drag culture. I have so much respect for drag culture, and I think that it’s definitely influenced me to be who I am today and I will always involve myself and advocate for drag, but it’s almost comparing Pepsi to Coke. They’re both so similar, but they’re not exactly the same. You don’t go to a store and buy Pepsi and say you just bought Coke. With that, I am very close-knit to drag, but I still don’t identify as even a ‘look queen,’” a drag queen who doesn’t perform or go on stage.

Many YouTubers, such as James Charles and Jeffree Star, offer similar “drag” content, going out in public with a full face of makeup while dressed head-to-toe in feminine clothing. Clawdeena says she can relate to both of them.

She also says being raised in a town like DeLand has helped her with this transition. “I think growing up in such an art district of Florida helped me flourish,” Clawdeena says. “Of course you’ll go out and get occasional stares, but overall it’s been a positive experience. “

While she’s figuring herself out, she has attended events like RuPaul’s DragCon and even has appeared on a new Snapchat series entitled “Growing Up is a Drag.”

Clawdeena says the series was in the works for several years prior to the release date, when producers first reached out to her and another queen on the show. The show follows three queens, including Clawdeena, and what they’re doing as every day teenagers who like to dress in drag.

“I love entertaining, and I love sharing my story and inspiring people,” Clawdeena says. “I knew the team behind ‘Growing Up is a Drag’ was so passionate about our stories that I knew it was going to inspire youth and that’s the main reason I wanted to do this: to showcase to other younger people that you could just go out and be yourself.”

Aside from DragCon and the show, Clawdeena wants to expand her channel, as well as her overall brand.

Something she is working on is advocating for Klippel-Trenaunay (KT) syndrome, something her mother lives with. Her father also lives with dementia, so working on charity-based videos and bringing attention to both of those causes is something Clawdeena wants to focus on.

“My goals for my channel are to expand my content from just makeup tutorials to doing more vlog-style and challenge videos outside of makeup,” Clawdeena says. “Also bringing some more charity to my channel, because that’s also something I’m expanding with my brand.”

Clawdeena gets involved when it comes to her fans by answering comments and live streaming on her Instagram, which has over 300,000 followers. She says Instagram allows her to get more involved with fans, as opposed to YouTube, and has a wider reach when it comes to international fans.

“A lot of kids don’t have a voice, so I want to be a platform where they can have a voice, feel comfortable and feel like they’re heard and understood. A big part of why I didn’t come out sooner was because there wasn’t a big platform prior to turning 14, when ‘Drag Race’ became a thing, and with that it became very open,” Clawdeena says. “So I hope that I’m offering that to other kids that might watch me and feel ‘if he can do it and I relate to him so much, that I can do it too.’”

Clawdeena says she plans to stay in DeLand for a while, but she also does see herself eventually moving out to somewhere like California to expand her brand, and also collaborate with other makeup companies and LGBTQ organizations.

Visit YouTube.com/Clawdeena9 or Clawdeena9Official on Instagram to check out Clawdeena’s original content.

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