I am one of Helen Ruth van Winkle’s 3.1 million followers on Instagram. At 88 years of age this great-grandma from Waco, KY, is fit, fabulous, flashy, and takes better selfies than any Gen Z or Millennial. It is difficult to dislike her.
Informally known as Baddiewinkle, the internet’s favorite senior citizen has a colorful sense of style and self, and radiates both authenticity and badassery. She strikes don’t give a f*ck poses paired with a smile that will make your heart melt. Behind highly pigmented eyeshadow, hot pink lipstick, and killer accessories is a woman living her best life clad in technicolor garments.
When asked by NPR how she came up with her catchy account name (Baddiewinkle) her response was: “I’m a bad bitch; always been a rebel. So we [she and her great-granddaughter] decided ‘bad’—’baddie.’ And then my last name was van Winkle, so we put the Winkle on.”
So far the Instagrandma starlet has been featured by two major cosmetics lines, rocked a bedazzled nude bodysuit and cane at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, and has written a book titled: Baddiewinkle’s Guide to Life. In her novel Baddie reveals her version of the key to a happy life. One would assume her sage advice would touch on something like, “Be yourself” or “Don’t care what others think!”—two things she has tastefully mastered. But this is not the case.
“The key to a happy life,” she told NPR, is: “You’re always smiling at people even though you just meet them on the street (most of the time [you’ll] get a smile back), and go to church (I’m a very Southern lady), and always be kind to every human that you meet. … I have met a lot of people and I think that they would say that about me.”
Baddiewinkle is the embodiment of the phrase “Do no harm, but take no sht.” She exudes an effortless mix of bad btch and charm, and her vibrant physical appearance mirrors who she is on the inside. For this reason I deem her one of the most iconic and inimitable social media influencers to date.
Baddie will be celebrating her 89th birthday this Tuesday, July 18, and I am already looking forward to the photo she will share to her ‘gram. Happy (almost) 89th to one bona fide badass!
Listen to Instagrandma Baddiewinkle’s full interview at NPR.
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