In case you weren’t already aware, Baddie Winkle is the sassiest 88-year-old around. With 3 million Instagram followers, she’s the grandma of dreams and living proof that age is simply a state of mind. But who is the lady behind the social media guise?
Hailing from Kentucky, Mrs Winkle (AKA Helen Ruth Elam Van Winkle) first stepped into the spotlight in 2014 when her great-granddaughter, Kennedy Lewis, began posting images of her G-G’ma on Twitter. The images featured Baddie posing in some of Kennedy’s more risqué outfits, which received an overwhelmingly positive response from the Twittersphere. She then went on to set up her own online profiles (with Kennedy’s help) and her social media audience quadrupled when Rihanna gave her a cheeky follow. Since then, she’s received a few mentions from Drake and has even hung out with the likes of Miley Cyrus as well as appearing in multiple music videos. In addition to shocking us with her eccentric outfits and unlikely friendships, Baddie has also caused controversy by advocating the legalisation of medical marijuana. She’s often pictured handling the odd joint or wearing garments with cannabis leaves emblazoned across the front; however, when quizzed on this topic in a recent interview with Vice magazine, she denied ever smoking the stuff herself. While not everyone may agree with her views, it has to be said that Baddie is a true inspiration to all women, laughing in the face of ageism and sexism whilst having the time of her life and making a fair bit of dollar along the way.
Her Instagram bio “stealing yo’ man since 1928” seems to suggest that Helen has always lived life on the wild side, but what was she like before she shot to fame? A country girl at heart, she claimed in a CNN interview that she was never shy and loved to dance as a youngster, which implies that she’s always been pretty cool. As an adult, she went on to work in a factory, spending her days ordering machine parts for engineers as a means of providing for her children. Tragically, her husband died in a car accident after a 35-year-long marriage and more recently, her son passed away after a battle with bone cancer. This is when Baddie decided it was time to reinvent herself with the help of great-granddaughter Kennedy. Now everyone wants a piece of Baddie. Countless brands have paid her to promote their products through sponsored Instagram posts and she was also the face of a recent Missguided partywear campaign, to add to her list of accomplishments.
So what does the future hold for this legendary lady? Well, it certainly doesn’t seem like she’s going anywhere in a hurry. She’s admitted to being blessed with good genes in terms of health and doesn’t seem to have too many complaints apart from a bit of arthritis which she previously joked about in one of her hilarious Instagram captions.
“SOOOO sorry I haven’t been posting that much lately 🙁 I recently found out I have arthritis and it was killin me lol BUT I FEEL BOMB AGAIN AND I’M BACK!!!”
We love you Baddie!
Words: Kate Dooley
Hashtags: #baddiewinkle #fashion #style #instagram #socialinfluencer #age