How does a 90 year old woman have 3.8 million Instagram followers?!
How It All Got Started
Helen Ruth Elam Van Winkle, at 90 years old, dresses in outlandish and colorful outfits and posts them on Instagram. It all started in 2014 when she was 85 and her great-granddaughter snapped a photo of her in jean shorts and a tie-dye shirt and posted it online. Within a month, and thousands of shares later, companies started calling asking Helen to wear their products.
The photo that started it all.
The more crazy outfits she posted, the more opportunities came her way. Today, she still posts pics of herself in outlandish outfits and her fan base continues to grow. She counts celebrities and pop stars among her many fans. Miley Cyrus, Gwen Stefani and others love her.
What a Splash!
Helen Van Winkle has made quite a splash! She’s known all over the world as Baddie Winkle, her Instagram name. She’s changed her own life and continues to impact other people all over the world.
Her favorite reaction from people she meets is to hear they’ve stepped out and expressed themselves a bit more than they otherwise would have. Someone will come up to her and say “I’m 79 and I wear funny sunglasses now because of you!”
Who Is Baddie Winkle?
Helen lost her husband in 1983 and later lost her son to cancer. She says she got tired of grieving and decided to reinvent herself. Originally living in the country on 5 acres in Kentucky, her journey started when she left her homestead and moved to town. Today she has millions of adoring fans and enjoys the life of an Instagram star.
In this video, Helen Van Winkle talks about her life in her own words.
What Is It Like To Be Baddie Winkle?
Helen’s family is a part of her business and life. Her grand-daughter manages her social media life, chooses her outfits and helps Helen with the offers from brands that come her way. Her great-granddaughter Kennedy, who started it all, keeps Helen relevant and up-to-the-minute with pop culture.
Helen rakes in $2,500 to $5,000 per Instagram post. She also makes 15% on the clothing and other merchandise with her image on it.
Helen loves the idea that she might be a role model for others. “You only live this life once. So have fun!”
Why Does She Inspire Us?
Helen’s fans admire her for gutsy-ness. Most of us would never be caught dead in an outfit as loud, colorful and garish as in Helen’s photos. Allowing yourself to be seen in all your quirkiness and outlandish-ness takes a certain kind of courage that most of us believe we could never muster.
Most of us find it much more comfortable laying low in the shadows. We’re happy to never risk making a splash. But what if we took a risk? What if we tried something new and daring – something we’ve always wanted to do or something unbearably exciting that just occurred to us? Just how fun might that be?!
Comfort Zone Pulverized!
The saying goes that everything you’ve ever wanted lies just outside your comfort zone. Helen Van Winkle has blasted through her original comfort zone and now is comfortable with herself and her life on the world stage. For Helen, stepping into her Instagram persona was a low-level risk that paid off.
Flamboyant outfits may not resonate with your style. For Helen, flamboyance is fun. Being a part of current culture is fun. Living life to the fullest is fun. Being “Baddie” is a way to show other older people that life is about living NOW.
What have you done to step out of your comfort zone and reinvent yourself? What do you dream of doing and becoming?