Instagrandma Baddie Winkle is the internet celebrity we all want to be when we grow up
She may be “stealing your man since 1928,” but it’s impossible not to love Baddie Winkle.
The “instagrandma,” whose real name is Helen Ruth Elam Van Winkle, absolutely slays the Instagram game — and she’s 89 years old.
Winkle has more than 3 million followers. She earns thousands for branded posts that get tens of thousands of likes. She’s been featured by cosmetic lines and modeled the hottest fashion. She walked the red carpet at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards — in a bedazzled nude bodysuit, no less. But before all that, she was a widow with a small farm in Kentucky and a rebellious spirit.
“I had a little 6-acre farm. I took care of it by myself for 15 years,” Winkle told NPR last month. “I did everything that you’re supposed to do: mowed, trimmed, had a little garden. I kept busy at all times.”
Her internet fame came unexpectedly. It all started when Winkle’s great-granddaughter, 19-year-old Kennedy Lewis, saw her in a pair of cut-off jeans shorts and a tie-dye T-shirt and said, “Let’s make a picture, Grandma, you look awful cute today.”
Winkle agreed, and then let Lewis create an Instagram account to post the photo online. Musician Rihanna followed the account, and the photo went viral.
“Kennedy would come home from school every day, and she would say, ‘Gram, come look, you’re up 20,000 today,'” Winkle told CNN Money. “I mean, it just kept going.”
It’s easy to see why millions of people follow Winkle’s account. Her posts are truly hilarious. She models the most out-there fashion, advocates for legalized marijuana, attends the coolest celebrity events — basically, she does things you would never expect a great-grandma to do. It doesn’t hurt that she can rock every fab, unique style imaginable.
“I think they saw a great-grandmother that didn’t care what anybody thought about her,” Winkle told NPR. “‘Here’s a rebel. We like her.'”
Since finding internet fame, Winkle has released a book and a clothing line and talked with producers about a reality TV series, though it hasn’t happened yet. And she shows no signs of slowing down, even though she celebrated her 89th birthday last week.
“I just hope that I stay in good health as long as I possibly can, and I do have good genes,” she told CNN, adding, “And I do look great in my jeans.”
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