This may not be the typical picture of an 86-year-old great-grandmother from Kentucky.
But for Instagram star Baddie Winkle it’s nothing unusual. In fact, a stream of pictures much like this one have made her famous – like, spot-her-in-the-street famous. With almost nine thousand followers on Instagram (she started posting just a year ago!), hilarious updates and the cheeky tagline “Stealing your man since 1928,” Baddie had already found social media stardom when LA-based street-fashion brand DimePiece made her the cover girl for its recent “State of Mind” swimsuit campaign. It seemed like a match made in – well…
Baddie is just latest older woman who’s been chosen as the face of a fashion or beauty campaign in recent months: She joins the ranks of Joan Didion for Celine, Joni Mitchell for Yves Saint Laurent, Charlotte Rampling for NARS, Helen Mirren for L’Oreal. But these women are cultural icons, while Baddie Winkle is a totally unvarnished, wrinkles-and-all Internet sensation.
So what’s Baddie Winkle’s appeal? One Instagram commenter might have hit it on the head when she posted “I want to be her when I’m old.” Baddie’s marijuana-leaf symbols, in-your-face attitude and love for fun scream teen party time and make her images totally relatable to many young people. On the other side, maybe that’s why some folks find her style kind of inappropriate. And then there’s the age-fearful “ew” factor. “This makes me so uncomfortable,” @sofiablackwellg commented next to a photo of prune-skinned Baddie in a bikini top.
Senior Planet caught up with Baddie to ask about social media fame, the role of her family in her Internet shenanigans and being the rebel of her friends group.
What does it feel like to be an Internet star? You’ve been covered by so many media outlets.
It’s great. It’s great. I enjoy it thoroughly. I want to continue doing it, until I guess… until I die. [Laughs.] I hope I can keep my health.
And talking about your Instagram account, I heard somewhere that is was your granddaughter’s idea. What did you think about that idea?
That is true. We started it together. We didn’t know it was going to go like it did – so fast. I mean, it’s really hard to believe. I have 95,000 followers right now. And we post a picture every once in a while, not every day … but every time we post one, it blows up.
IMA BAD GAL A photo posted by BADDIE (@baddiewinkle) on
What do you do when you’re not modeling or posting for Instagram?
I go to water aerobics about three days a week. I walk. I play cards. I see my friends. At least once a week, sometimes twice, I go out to dinner. I keep very busy.
Have you always been a rebel?
I have always been a kind of a rebel. I have a lot of friends and I am the “rebel friend.”
So going back to Instagram, you have so many great photos. But is there one that’s your absolute favorite?
The first one I made is my favorite, actually. You know, I have my tie-dye shirt on and cut-off pants.
People are starting to know you outside of your friend group. Have you have had any funny fan encounters?
Everywhere I go someone recognizes me and wants pictures. As a matter of fact, this weekend on Saturday night, I went to my other great-granddaughter’s play – she’s a junior in high school – and all these kids surrounded me and said, Take a picture with me! [Laughs.] And at airports, and when we go to the grocery store. I mean I’m barely alone most places.
Once I had a flat tire. And this guy came along, he took the tire to the service station and blew it up and brought it back to me, and put it on and got me on my way. And would not take any money at all. I thought that was strange. And then as I went off, here come his kids, all of them saying, “Baddie’s, here! Baddie’s here!” And so we made pictures with them.… I enjoy it.
Do you have any tips for seniors who are just starting out on social media?
Well, all of my friends are old like me and they don’t do too much, but I always tell them to get off their butt and get out there and do their thing! And a few have started.
You know, I had some people write negative things about me [on social media], but I just brush it off. It kind of bothered me at first but it doesn’t really bother me anymore. I just decided that they don’t have anything else to do but to put somebody down.
What else do we need to know about Baddie Winkle?
I have one granddaughter and four grandsons. And I have two great-granddaughters and one great-grandson. And I love to be around all of them, because they are all so funny and they keep me young. They really do.
What does “aging with attitude” mean to you?
I don’t worry about aging. I kind of think whatever will be will be. I mean, I can’t turn the clock back, I wish I could but nobody can do that. You have to live from day to day. I’m in good shape and I thank the Lord every day for that. Because I could already be in the grave at 86 [chuckles] but I’m not quite ready to go yet.
What’s your take on Baddie Winkle?