Catherine Martinez’s beauty tutorials started the same way that most vloggers’ do, as a hobby. The videos were straightforward, Martinez teaching her viewers how to put on makeup with little talking. But once she started studying communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, all that started to change.
Through her program, Martinez, now 24, started taking American Sign Language and had the idea to start incorporating ASL into her videos. “It just occurred to me that when you watch media in general, sometimes [there’s] not a lot of communicative resources depending on where the person is or what channels they may watch,” she said.
Though she was just beginning to learn ASL, Martinez says she decided to let her guard down and just go for it. She wanted to reach communities that aren’t always involved in beauty tutorials because of the communication barrier. At one point she had a friend at school approach her and ask what a certain YouTuber was saying. “I noticed right then and there, imagine somebody from the [deaf] community trying to watch [videos] and the subtitles probably are not available or the subtitles are misleading. That’s what really pushed me even more to
Even though Martinez is still learning ASL, she says she’s been able to have a positive impact through her videos. “It was overwhelming for me when I had a lot of people tell me they were from the community, and they appreciate it from the bottom of their hearts…” she said. “It’s like, wow, I have this impact with the little resources I have and the little that I know… So imagine if I further my studies, if I continue practicing, if I continue learning sign language. I can help more and more people.”
And the beauty community has also taken notice; Martinez has worked with brands like e.l.f. Cosmetics, theBalm and Wet N Wild, most recently announcing she’s part of Wet N Wild’s Breaking Beauty campaign:
But Martinez isn’t stopping at ASL. She’s started writing out some of her Instagram captions in both English and Spanish (both of which she’s fluent in) to connect with an even wider audience.
“I feel like at this point, our platforms should be, if not bilingual, then multilingual. If we have the advantage where we know more than one language, use it.” Above, watch Martinez explain how she started creating her videos and why she’s passionate about making tutorials for all communities.