Chelsea Manning: Beauty Is ‘An Expression of My Humanity’

Chelsea Manning
Chelsea Manning gives her the first exclusive television interview since her prison release to ABC News' 'Nightline' on June 8, 2017. Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images)

After being released from prison in May, Chelsea Manning is feeling like a whole new woman. The 29-year-old penned an essay for Yahoo Beauty about her experience finally being open with the world about her identity, and exploring that through the self-expression of style and beauty. 

To Manning, beauty has a deeper meaning beyond lipgloss and eyeshadow. “I choose my lipstick colors carefully,” she revealed in the essay. “I’m not just saying, ‘I like this edgy color.’ This is an expression of my humanity. And beauty, to me, is self-expression.”

figured i would show my face ? at the new ground zero of the war on trans people you see, #WeGotThis ?

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She continued, “Now that I’m out and free, I love experimenting with makeup. I use it to project different moods and emphasize what I’m trying to say in a particular moment.”

Her fairly extensive daily makeup routine now involves playing with bold shades, for an important reason: “Most days I put on a liquid foundation, some powder for highlights, eyeliner, a mascara base, and mascara, with either a lipstick or gloss for the day. I’m wearing a lot of bold lipsticks, because I’m trying to make bold statements: I’m here and I’m free and I can do whatever I want.”

drank coffee at the starbucks i used to work at a decade ago

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She also reflected on her past, and how her story of being a transgender person in the military quickly gained media attention. “The first time the world saw me as I see me is that picture that went viral of me in the blond wig, which I sent to my superior,” Manning wrote. “I took that picture for myself when I was on leave in January of 2010. I took it as a little memento of who I was at that moment. I never intended it to be shared with the world. When I look at that picture now, I see me — but I see me in a phase of trying to figure myself out. I’m much closer to who I am today than I was in that photo. But it was a process to get here.”

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