There is an intimate yet casual confidentiality you’re invited into when you watch a “Get Ready With Me” video. It’s almost like a confessional while someone puts on their makeup. It’s oddly comforting, soothing almost and draws people in: What about getting ready triggers the need to divulge?
This type of video has become a staple of the TikTok landscape and the trademark of a new generation of TikTok creators who have found virality in using the visual appeal of a makeup video while sharing stories and monologues otherwise reserved for voice notes and FaceTime calls to close friends.
And who are the trendsetters behind the craze? Gen Z, naturally.
Of its one billion users, 60% of TikTok’s audience is Gen Z. And according to research by McKinsey & Company, one of the defining characteristics of Gen Z is the expression of individual truth. How better to demonstrate that than by posting unfiltered clips inviting strangers to the process of your getting ready?
If the high-definition medium has proved anything, it’s that TikTok can be a place where raw authenticity (performed or real) is championed. The phantom presence of the viewer conjures a sense of community with their favorite internet personalities, who are keen to get genuine with followers about the realities of their daily life as they apply their makeup.
So it comes as no surprise that GRWMs, the acronym for “Get Ready With Me” videos, has taken over TikTok. The hashtag alone has more than 114 billion views and counting.
For TikToker Aissata Diallo, better known as @aissatatdiallo, it’s just “as if I’m talking to one of my homegirls.”
“It’s just propping up the camera, talking to the camera…and just tell[ing] them what’s going on while I get ready,” she said.
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Diallo has accrued over 400,000 followers on Instagram and TikTok. Previously known for her appearance on the U.S. version of Love Island, the Guinea-born creator is one of six siblings who moved to America as refugees when she was 12 years old. The University of Albany graduate also holds a Master of Science degree and speaks four different languages.
Personal academic achievements and a stint in reality television aside, Diallo is a newer TikToker on the GRWM scene. It’s been a fun platform for her to be her most authentic self, but that isn’t how the social butterfly started her journey on the clock app.
“With every new social media platform, when you get on it, you try to figure out how you can fit in, right? So I realized the worst thing that you could do is try to do what everybody else is doing.”
She never used to engage with her audience directly by speaking but made it a goal this year to do so.
“The moment I started doing that, the dynamic changed…people started getting to know me more and learning more because I [was] actually talking,” Diallo said.
The beauty of the “chatty” nature of a GRWM is that, as Diallo describes, it’s “a way for people to learn and feel more related to you and feel like, ‘Oh, OK, this is a human being, like me.’”
Unlike Diallo, Emira D’Spain is what you might call a GRWM veteran.
“I wanna make people feel like — and they are — part of my world, and I think ‘Get Ready With Me’s’ kind of do that,” she said.
As D’Spain points out, GRWMs predate TikTok and the pandemic, going back to the golden days of YouTube beauty gurus. She even credits the “nostalgic, old-school YouTube days where they would call it like a chatty ‘Get Ready With Me’” as her inspiration.
There will always be tutorial-type videos like “How to do this easy eye shadow look that anyone can do.”
“Yes, that video is amazing and informative,” D’Spain explained, “And people will watch it, like it, share it, but they’re not drawn into your world as a creator.”
For D’Spain, the momentum behind her GRWM series all started with one video.
“Literally the first ‘Get Ready With Me’ I did in November of 2021 went viral, and it got millions of views,” D’Spain said. “I was like, ‘Oh, this is my specialty now.’”
Dubai-born, Dallas-raised and New York City-based, the Emirati-American model recently made headlines as the first Black transgender woman to model for Victoria’s Secret. D’Spain has also been a cover girl for Glamour, been featured in Nylon and modeled for brands like Fenty Beauty, Anastasia Beverly Hills and NARS Cosmetics.
On TikTok, the content creator has amassed a following of over a million TikTok followers that enjoy her candid, expletive-filled GRWM videos, which rack up millions more views.
“At the point that I have grown, it doesn’t feel like it’s millions of people. When I’m doing my ‘Get Ready With Me’s,’ it’s like a big group FaceTime,” the social media influencer said. “People always say, ‘Oh my God…I feel like I’m on FaceTime, I’m [doing] my makeup right now — let’s do it together.’ And that’s the point! I feel like that’s the most fun.”
The former PAPER magazine beauty director’s brand is made up of who she fondly calls her “C**ty Barbies.” With the help of her go-to products, she helps fans find their “glaur” (otherwise known as “glow,” for those unfamiliar with the slang).
D’Spain was ahead of the curve when she began posting salacious GRWMs about, for example, meeting up with her “sugar daddy” — which she promises is just a joke (or is it?).
The video format has since become a staple on her @xoxoemira page. Now, she pairs up scandalous tales of sugar daddies and yachts as she paints her face with her trusty Charlotte Tilbury Magic Serum and as much blush as she can layer.
Similarly, Diallo has tweaked her content to make it her own as well, such as with a series of GRWM videos the model calls “Chitchat Wednesdays.”
Each Wednesday, she talks through a GRWM with topics ranging from 30 things she’s learned before turning 30 to religious diversity and inclusion as a Black and Muslim creator.
Inclusion means valuing and integrating our presence + perspectives. #grwmchitchat – – Diversity & inclusion needs to be *across the board*, including religion. & I don’t mean just “hiring us” but also including us in your calendars, having days off for our holidays (Eid), including us in your marketing efforts to help get us ready for our time to celebrate. – – I would love to see the well established big brands make sincere efforts to make Muslims feel included in all their efforts. I would love to see efforts into Ramadan & Eid holidays the same way as other major holidays. I would love to see “Eid sale” to help get us ready for the holidays & gift shopping. I would love to see Ramadan & Eid inspired PRs in my mailbox to build some excitement around it/highlight it so our community can feel seen. That’s what inclusivity and diversity across the board means. Not just hiring us, but including us when you’re planning out the year. – – Also, 2023 & no one should have to choose between celebrating Eid with family and going to work . #womenwhowill #cleangirlmakeup #makeuptutorial #glassskinmakeup #glowyskin #diversevoices #ramadan2023
“I feel like those TikToks definitely garner more engagement,” she said. “People always love to hear what you have to say, even if it [may] or [may] not get more views. And more often than not, it’s more relatable.”
For D’Spain, “I think it’s cool to have such a big community and get to share weird things about my life,” she said.
GRWMs set the tone for a new digital era where oversharing is synonymous with connecting and where social media encourages us to turn our lives into content for consumption. But even Diallo and D’Spain are cautious with what they share, highlighting the boundary they’ve set for themselves.
“There is a boundary that I have for myself. There’s certain things that I might not speak about, like more personal things, I might not do that,” Diallo revealed. “But other than not, there’s so many other ways that you can share and connect with your audience and connect with your community without oversharing.”
And they find a way to do that, because the power of the GRWM video has relied on creators like Diallo and D’Spain being more vulnerable with their viewers than we generally expect from influencers.
For D’Spain, this can be things like sharing about her trans experience.
“I genuinely am sharing something that I care so passionately about or sharing a part of myself with the internet, like my gender confirmation surgery that is so personal,” she said.
“I do feel a responsibility to share that side of myself as a trans creator, but also just in general, I feel like as a creator, you should want to share the more vulnerable sides of yourself because people wanna see that,” D’Spain continued. “They don’t wanna believe that everything is perfect because everything is not always perfect.”
Being genuine with your followers “creates a community,” according to Diallo.
“It creates trust. It creates someone you can find reliable,” she said. “It creates a personal feel to the content, whe[re] you feel like you know the person.”
In today’s digital age, influencers are the social media celebrities we aspire after, but the beauty of GRWMs is that the easy-to-replicate format can be adopted by any users to create their own, bringing them one step closer to emulating their favorite influencer in their own right.
The “TikTok Beauty Queen,” as D’Spain refers to herself, knowingly or not inspires everyone from creators like Diallo to everyday users to hop on the GRWM bandwagon.
“I used to get so upset…and I’d be like, ‘Oh my God, Mom, they’re stealing my idea,’” she said, laughing. “But at the end of the day, it’s kind of fun to see that other people are inspired by it. So I’m like, let it go off, let it blow up and do its own thing.”
And by doing her “own thing,” Diallo has found what grows her own community.
“If my community enjoys that type of content, then I will create that type of content for them.”
This window into creators’ lives bridges those in front of the camera and those watching them, giving them a digital bond built on blush, bronzer and everything from seemingly superficial chatter to deeply personal topics.
As the trend continues to grow in popularity, all D’Spain expects of viewers is what she did when she made her first video — especially now as she hopes to tweak her famous method of doing GRWMs.
“Stay tuned!” she said.