Alexis Jade Montes, known to her thousands of YouTube subscribers and social media followers as Alexis Jayda, posted her first video on her YouTube channel in 2012. Originally from Utah, Alexis was encouraged by her husband to start vlogging about what had become a passion of hers—beauty. It was also her husband Rudee who bought her first eye shadow palettes, and after seeing her do her makeup, encouraged her to take it seriously.
Vlogging has had a cathartic effect on Alexis, who was 21 at the time her intimate series of vlogs were published in May 2015. Without it, she says she would be “depressed” and “suffer major anxiety.”
Vlogging has allowed her the courage to face the contents of her past. Alexis’ immense beauty, adept ability to create makeup looks and bubbly personality mask a past filled with pain and despair.
In a series she titled “Story Of My Life DRAW MY LIFE,” Alexis attempts to as she says “draw her life.”. She says that she could not physically draw her life, as in a sketch, as it would be all over the place. That being said, Alexis wanted to attempt to piece it together in some way.
In May 2015, She began documenting her early life on YouTube and the abuse she suffered, along with the difficult relationship she had with her mother.
I stumbled upon these videos of Alexis’ life whilst doing a piece of unrelated research. I was immediately hooked. I found it uplifting that a young woman such as herself, who had experienced the trauma that she had, was using her platform to share and thus help others. I felt that her videos were both touching and empowering. She was brave and very strong and believed that she could engage with others who were also suffering.
It is never easy to go back and dig around in your past and unearth the pain you believe is better left buried. But for many of us, there comes a time when the demons of the past need to be exorcised, you need to get them out. Burdens can seem impossible to carry alone, when shared are at once lightened. This was one of the ways Alexis sought to utilize YouTube.
Alexis Montes was born Alexis Jade Guadeloupe Reyes and grew up with her mother and two brothers. She says she is unsure of her actual heritage. What she has been told is that she is “mixed,” possibly being of Navajo, Indian and Mexican descent. Her mother had no real concrete idea with regard to this and Alexis knows nothing of her birth father.
Alexis recalls being molested by her stepfather at the age of five and feeling abandoned emotionally by her mother, due to fact that her mother never really believed her.Sh e was “touched” again by her stepfather at the age of nine, at which time herself and her mother left their home for a day. Due to the abuse Alexis suffered at home and neglect at the hands of her mother, Alexis sought validation through friendships and often humiliated herself in order to be accepted by the girls at her school. She recalls even being “punched in the face” by one of the girls she attended school with. Alexis lacked self-esteem and sought hard to find it in meaningless friendships and relationships.
She recalls meeting her first boyfriend at around 13 or 14 but it was her second relationship, not too soon after, that dramatically changed things. To escape her mother and stepdad (Alexis was molested for the final time by her stepdad at 13), Alexis eventually left home and moved in with her second boyfriend. An abusive relationship from the outset, Alexis recalls him “beating her ass” in junior high. She was used as hired help around the house, getting up early in the morning to clean and kept prisoner in the house.
She says that he beat her on numerous occasions and does not know why she did not leave him before she did. Alexis soon fell pregnant with her first child but was only ever referred to as a maid or babysitter. The abuse she experienced did not subside during pregnancy and Alexis recounts being punched by her boyfriend. The reality is that Alexis had exchanged one abusive situation for another and was herself still only a child.
Alexis describes being raped by her boyfriend and falling pregnant with her second child at 15—this she said he did to “lock her down.” In spite of being trapped in what could only be described as a nightmare, Alexis began to find the will to fight back and stand up for herself.
She found her first job at 16 and was finally able to escape the house and gain a little independence in spite of having two children by that age. She also met her would be future husband Rudee, both finding solace in each other, something which allowed them to begin to heal. Alexis decided she would save some of the money she worked for and devised a plan that would extricate her from her torturous circumstances. She also began to fight back whenever her boyfriend attempted to beat her up. This she says shocked him.
When Alexis moved out of her boyfriend’s house and into Rudee’s sister’s basement apartment, things were finally falling into place. She describes falling in love with Rudee as “amazing.” It was as if God had brought two broken people together. Her children’s father’s lack of interest in their lives was a delight to Alexis as Rudee wanted to be a father to them. Her strength also led her to press charges against her step-father and the father of her children.
Mother and I: Part 1 and 2
Still, Alexis has never actually been able to truly reconcile with her mother. From the early sexual abuse suffered at the hands of her stepfather to the drug abuse her mother exposed her and her siblings to, Alexis has struggled to understand why her mother has never addressed the problems that tore their family apart. She believes her mother chose avoidance rather than to accept responsibility for being negligent as a mother.
In the section of the series related to their relationship, Alexis says that her mother blamed her addiction on the fact that she could not cope with what had happened to Alexis as a child. Alexis sees this as just another excuse.
Her relationship with her mother has been turbulent to say the least, and at many times Alexis has found that she has had to take responsibility for herself and her siblings. She struggled to understand why her mother never actually attempted to parent her and her brothers and sisters and expresses having “anger issues” because of the situation with her mother. She has always felt a sense of abandonment and expressed being unsure of the love she has for her.
Alexis’ mother became addicted to drugs when Alexis was 12 years old. It was from this age that Alexis began to harbour feelings of anger and resentment toward her. Alexis can never get past this fact her mother was never there for her and her siblings and continually put them in danger. This is the root of the pain in her past and anger she feels toward her mother. Alexis was awarded full custody of her younger brother Noah due to her mother’s inability to take care of him and penchant for getting high. Her mother did not even show up for the hearing that was to decide her brother Noah’s custody. Alexis felt that her mother’s erratic behavior, which included allowing random guys to call her asking to marry her even though she was already married, made it hard for her to forgive her.
Her worst memory though? When Alexis was 13 or 14 years old. Whilst attempting to have what was an important conversation with her mother Alexis realised her mother could hear nothing as she had lapsed into a zombie-like state, high and completely out of it. Afraid her mother was close to death she rushed to a neighbour for help. Alexis grew up fast and feels she knew too much at too young an age.
Alexis was emancipated from her mother soon after she left home. She describes being constantly threatened by her mother. Her mother assured her she would cut off her medical insurance or take her children if she did not give her money her birth father paid her for child support. This was Alexis’ only means of having her own cash and being able to buy clothes. It was not uncommon for Alexis’ mother to drain the money on her child support card before Alexis got to it.
Alexis’ relationships with various family members was also strained. At the time she published the video on YouTube in 2015, she said she no longer spoke to her grandmother, who she says knew about the abuse she suffered. Alexis’ father also wanted nothing to do with her, but she says she knows she has brothers from him in Idaho.
YouTube and Beyond
YouTube opened a whole new world for Alexis and a chance to do something that was her own and would make her children proud. It was a place where she could address what she felt was missing in the beauty world. She says that at the time she began vlogging there were not many people doing reviews of products that were suited to her skin tone.
YouTube was a way to make her voice heard and for her to address these absences. Alexis admits that vlogging has saved her—it has become the release that has enabled her to deal with her past. She still struggles but looks forward to posting her beauty videos on YouTube.
Alexis’ YouTube make-up channel AlexisJayda has over 391k subscribers.
Wendy Hackshaw is a writer from London who is currently researching late-1970s New York City and the cultural and social movements that came out of that period. Her work focuses on revolutionary aspects of style, music and culture. You can follow her @deeshimmer.