Shaina Negrón: Realness with a Smile

Popscure writer Darryan Miller took some time to speak with artist Shaina Negrón on loving oneself, the freeing nature of art, and rejection of labels in today’s identity-driven society.

Creativity takes courage, and Shaina Negrón has plenty of both. The New Jersey-based artist has many talents, from drawing to tattooing to painting, with hopes of stepping into the music scene. For years, Negrón has made a niche for herself in the social media world with a positive platform extolling the virtues of self-acceptance and love. “My main goal is to help people be more comfortable with the skin that they’re in,” Negron says.

Negrón is accomplishing this goal through her accounts on both Twitter and Instagram, where she goes by the name @toushai, a moniker that plays on the word ‘touché.’ Through creating the hashtag #TeefTuesdays used on both social media platforms, she channels the vulnerability that comes with showing one’s teeth by putting a positive spin on things. “I love when people smile. I’m always trying to get people to laugh and I do definitely think that energy, it’s very much felt, and we need more smiling humans out here. “#TeefTuesdays came about from the interactions she had on social media, “[People] were complimenting me using that word, and I was like, ‘Yo, I should just make it a thing.’ I stayed consistent with it and made it just a Tuesday thing— on Tuesday we show our teef, like on Wednesdays we wear pink.”

Image by Shaina Negrón | @toushaiart

“I love when people smile. I’m always trying to get people to laugh and I do definitely think that energy, it’s very much felt, and we need more smiling humans out here.”

With her artistic ability, humor, and lively nature, it’s clear that the 26-year-old is a triple threat, which isn’t going unnoticed. On her main Instagram page, where she writes inspiring posts encouraging followers to stay true to themselves, she has amassed over 104K followers. In one of her posts Negrón writes, “Aside from protecting your peace, you must protect your creativity. It’s okay to turn away from things that do not serve you. Move in the direction of your heart, move in the direction that serves you full. Do not be afraid of what you leave behind; keep going forward. Bless.” This powerful statement is just one example of how Negrón encourages creativity.

Starting at the age of 11, the artist began drawing, eventually leading her to discover kids’ face paint at a local YMCA event. “There was a woman there, and she asked me to paint her stomach for a maternity shoot. The following week I did it, and I [thought] ‘Wow, I’m good at this,’ I never knew I could paint.” While her favorite medium is pencil to paper, Negrón also creates illusions with the stroke of her brush, blending the human body into colorful backgrounds.

Image by Shaina Negrón | @toushai

Negrón paints the nude human body. In an array of colors, the artist strategically paints her muse against different backdrops–some of the backdrops are solid colors, and some highlight the work of other artists. Each person and piece of body art stands out and makes a bold conversation piece. “I’m painting nude bodies so that people are okay with being naked. Don’t be ashamed to take your shirt off in front of another woman or man. Don’t be scared, like that’s you, that’s your skin, you were born into that,” Negrón says. Through her art, she is not only imitating life, but making a political statement.

Image by Shaina Negrón | @toushai

When asked what influences her, the influencer says, “I feel like everybody influences me. When I paint, I paint a lot of women. I always paint women walking into a different dimension. I feel like I’m always painting other women, but, in the sense that it’s always me. It’s like it’s me putting myself into everybody else’s shoes. I understood this girl’s whole story in this way,” she continues, “People influence me, life and the situations that happen, real life shit influences me. I really appreciate life.”

Though Negrón has a tough exterior, her interior is anything but. She’s sensitive and intuitive, shedding tears when the topic of LGBTQ+ identity comes up. When it comes to identifying herself, the artist doesn’t believe in labels. She is who she is, her sexuality is fluid, and though society would deem her as non-binary, she doesn’t conform solely to one distinction or another. “I just kind of learned that I’m non-binary and an androgynous female, and I learned that because people were putting that label onto me. Why do we have to label ourselves LGBTQ+? Why do we have to have a coming out story? Why can’t we just be? My brother never came out and was like, ‘Yo Ma! I like girls!’ Like, why do I have to do that?” Negrón goes on to say, “I open minds up to the idea that you can just be yourself. You can be masculine and still like to do feminine things, or you could be masculine and a little feminine, or you could be super feminine and want to be treated in this masculine way, like, that’s totally okay.”

“Why do we have to label ourselves LGBTQ+? Why do we have to have a coming out story? Why can’t we just be?”

In a curious world that demands answers almost to a fault, Negrón states, “If I label myself, you’re going to look at someone that looks like me and label them, for what? Why are we labeling each other? I’m just me. I’m all for the parades and festivals because that’s our march; that’s just taking a stance against the people that do not like that.”

Shaina Negrón advocates for messages that center around being true to and accepting of oneself, which comes from a place of working hard herself to get there. “People view me in this weird light. I say it’s weird because people are like, ‘Oh, you’re so positive. You’re so confident,’ but that all came from me not being confident and not being positive. There [were] a bunch of times that I didn’t like the way I looked, or me noticing that I’m different. I had to grow to understand myself, and me growing to understand myself was my breakthrough. Like wow…this is me, it’s okay to be like this.”

Between positive messages, and sharing her gifts and wisdom with the world, Shaina Negrón is first and foremost human, spreading kindness so other humans can feel comfortable in their skin. Through all of her work, Negrón is an artist to watch, an artist to love, and certainly an artist who’s message could inspire — who knows? You just might surprise yourself.

The featured photo at the top was shot by @defcampus. You can find and follow Shaina Negrón on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.