#GE2020: Meet the Irish MUA who has turned her platform to politics
Come for the makeup, stay for the politics.
That's what MUA Grace O'Connell was hoping would happen when she started discussing the upcoming general election on her Instagram Stories. And it did.
The Co. Louth makeup artist is best known for her intricate eye makeup, but lately she's turned her capabilities and expertise to the intricacies of the Irish political sphere.
Grace says that she had found herself chatting a lot about the importance of being politically engaged with her friends - so much so that she decided to share her knowledge to the 'gram too.
"My Stories are almost exclusively beauty, but sometimes there’s more important things than a smokey eye," she tells Her.
"I regretted not being more vocal about Repeal on Instagram. It was something I felt strongly about and I was always brought up by my mam to stand up for what you believe in.
"I knew I had to be more vocal this time around. It was a way for me to articulate my frustrations with the current government all the while advocating for much needed change."
Grace hasn't just been airing her grievances with Ireland's political situation on her Stories - she's also been giving her followers adept insights on each campaign so far, as well as more general information about the election process.
For the past few weeks, the MUA has been using her platform to chat to her 5k followers about election coverage, questionable social media usage by parties, and how she's going to use her own vote to hopefully address the issues most important to her.
According to Grace, it's never too late to be in the know about, or even just interested in, politics.
"I was hesitant at first that those with a common interest of makeup would run a mile as soon as I started talking politics," she says.
"I gave everyone a fair warning in advance and a welcome invitation to unfollow if the election didn’t concern or interest them. I lost followers in the immediate posting of the disclaimer. I get it - they signed up for the smokey eye."
But where Grace has lost the odd follower or two, she has gained tonnes of others - nurses, students, teachers, and other makeup artists who are all eager to engage and determined to use their vote wisely this weekend.
"These girls are so intelligent and from all industries and sectors and deserve change for the better," says Grace. "Come for the makeup, stay for the politics."
Grace's engagement with her followers about the upcoming election - and Irish politics in general - points to the ever-changing way that we consume information through the constant prevalence of social media.
According to her, the more traditional ways of consuming political commentary - like radio, TV, or standard online publications - are for a lot of young people, unattractive and outdated.
"If the opening Leaders' Debate with Pat Kenny was anything to go by, you would think the only viable options were Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael," she says.
"This can result in a lot of people unfortunately feeling left out of the conversation."
Grace pays heed to political journalists like JOE's Ellen Coyne and Virgin Media's Gavan Reilly, pointing to them as evidence of an informed discussion that is both adept and yet totally accessible - no matter how experienced you are.
"Many young people are turning to social media for information on politics - often because the language and ideas in mainstream media are jargon and elitist," she says.
"I know from speaking to my peers that this new generation of young journalists has brought election coverage to under 30s in a way that is fresh, interesting and accessible."
#GE2020 takes place this Saturday, February 8.
You can follow Grace's Instagram page here.