Baddie Winkle: All the College Kids Just Want Me to Be Their Grandma But that didn't stop one guy from kissing the 86-year-old Instagram star on the lips at a party. by TESS KOMAN Whether old people are getting high for the first time or reacting to Kim Kardashian’s butt on camera, they’ve gained a huge audience of people who want to watch old people do, well, the things young people do. Helen Van Winkle, known to most as Baddie Winkle, 86, is perhaps the most consistently captivating woman in her 80s on social media. With the help of her grandkids and great-grandkids, the Knoxville, Tennessee, resident (she recently moved there from Richmond, Kentucky) posted her first Instagram in April 2014. It was a simple picture: Winkle was wearing a tie-dyed Grateful Dead bears T-shirt, jorts, and high socks covered with pink marijuana leaves. She captioned it, "Peace and Love." A year later, her posts continue to be wild and not what you might expect from an octogenarian. She has 969,000 Instagram followers and 226,000 Twitter followers, and she’s the newest face of Dimepiece LA, a clothing brand known for its loud slogans ("love don’t pay the bills" and "treat your girl right," for example) and celebrity following. Winkle spoke to Cosmopolitan.com about being Miley Cyrus’s role model, what she thinks of young people today, and what she hopes to accomplish as the Internet’s most famous grandma and one of its most fascinating viral figures. This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site. How’d you come up with the name "Baddie"? Well, there were three of us who worked on it, and [my great-granddaughter and now manager] Kennedy actually said, "Why not Baddie?" And I said, "Baddie Winkle? That sounds great." ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW You’ve been Internet famous for a year now. How has your life changed? Dramatically. I get recognized everywhere I go. On the street. Most of the time, college kids. I went to a frat party not too long ago. They were very nice, treated me with open arms, and I took thousands of pictures with everyone there. I am welcome back any time I want to [go to] one of their frat parties! What do your friends and family think of your newfound Internet fame? They all love it. They all absolutely love it. I have great support from my family and my friends. Is there anyone who is jealous of how famous you’ve become? I think they are, but they don’t show it too much. What is the craziest thing that’s happened to you over the past year, besides going to a frat party, which sounds pretty crazy. What was the craziest thing I did? Probably going to Canada to a meet-and-greet. There were college kids. It was at a bar. I never had so many pictures taken. Every kid in there, which was about 500, made a picture with me. We had a lot of fun. Really well-behaved bunch of kids. I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic. They were! They really were well-behaved. You know, there was a lot of music and there’s dancing and all of that, but that’s college kids! They didn’t get out of line or anything like that. They treated me with respect. At these frat parties, are there college boys who hit on you? No! They have all been really nice. They’ve treated me with respect. [Dawn, Winkle’s granddaughter and COO of Baddiewinkle Promotions, interjects to say, "Tell them how that one boy tried to kiss you on the lips!"] Well, there was one guy. But it was just fun for him. He wasn’t trying to hit on me or anything like that. He kissed me on the lips! But he wasn’t ... it was just a fun thing for him. All these college kids are great! Are you getting appearance fees for frat parties and other events? Yes. So you have more than 900,000 Instagram followers and almost 230,000 Twitter followers. How did you amass such a following in such a short amount of time?
ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW Well, really, it was a big surprise to me! I think the first day we posted the very first picture, we gained about 5,000 followers in that one day! It was phenomenal. It just kept growing and growing and growing. MOLLY MULLIN Why do you think people are so obsessed with your Instagram account? I think that high school kids and college kids and even grade school kids know who I am and want pictures with me. Why? Because they all want me to be their grandma! They also want to be like me when they get to be my age. I’m in good health, I’m in good shape, and I have a pretty good figure [laughs] for a woman that’s 86. I guess I have to brag on myself. What just baffles you about young people these days? ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW Oh, I just love young people. I’ve got young people around me all the time. What baffles me? They’re so smart. When I was their age, I was a dummy. I knew nothing. They know everything. It is because of the Internet and the TV and all [those] kinds of things. And kids get smarter every year. Don’t you agree? What do you think of old people who refuse to embrace the Internet? Oh, there’s a lot of them. I’m trying to remedy that with my friends. I have a lot of friends my age. Well, some are younger, some are older. Some are 40 to 50 to maybe 80. I’m trying to educate them! To get on the Internet and the Instagram and Twitter and all that stuff. I can’t imagine any of them will grow a following like you have. Well, they’re surprised! Really surprised. Some of the older ones, they think I go a little bit too far with pictures I have on the Internet. They’ve seen a few of them, and they say they’re kind of racy. I agree with them. They are! But I said, "You know, this is me! I’m just doing my thang. Maybe you ought to go out there and do the same thing! You’ll love it!" They would if they would try. Miley Cyrus has posted about you on her Instagram — That’s right! What do you think about Miley? I don’t know her personally, but I watched her shows when the kids were younger. Her shows were big with the younger group, and now she’s big with the older ones. I like her music. She’s kind of wild, but she’s just going through a phase —she’ll settle down. She posted that you’re her role model. I want to meet her in person sometime, and I will! I watched her show and her dad — you know, he’s a singer too. I just love Miley. But she grew up in front of me on TV. I’m sure her concert is a good time. She’s a good kid. She’s a great kid. Rihanna follows you on Twitter. How do you feel about her being a fan? That’s news for me! I didn’t know that she was a fan and I think she’s wonderful. I will certainly be a fan and I already was a fan. I’m very pleased with that. I never met her though. ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW You are the newest face of Dimepiece LA, a brand that Rihanna and a lot of celebrities love. Do you think that you’re a dime piece? Do I think what, hon? Do you think you’re a dime piece? Oh, yes! Yes, I do think I’m a dime piece. What is the most empowering part of being Baddie Winkle? Just being out there! Being out there on the Internet and Instagram and putting myself out there. What do you think still needs to happen for women to be on an equal playing field with men? Hmm. I wish that would happen in the next few years, but I don’t know that they will ever be. Maybe they will. They’re doing a lot better now, but men are just men. Of course, I love men, but they are who they are and they don’t want women to be as equal to them. [Women have] made great strides in the past few years, they have. And we may well have a woman president one of these days.
What do you think about that? I think it would be absolutely wonderful. MOLLY MULLIN You call people basic all the time on Twitter and Instagram. What makes someone basic? I think most people are actors. There’s fakery going on, don’t you think? I think people will say anything on the Internet. Oh, yeah. I have a lot of bad stuff said about me. I just kind of shrug it off. I think the people that say anything and everything are just people! What kind of bad things do people say about you when you post photos? Oh, they’ll say, "I hate you, I wish you would die," a lot of negative stuff like that. It comes with the territory. You can’t take everything that people say personally. You’re smoking in a lot of your Instagrams, but I’ve read you don’t actually smoke! No, I don’t! I would love to have marijuana medicinally in every state because it’s been proven that it helps kids with certain types of illnesses. In a lot of states, it is legal to smoke marijuana. But I don’t smoke marijuana and I never will. Well, I won’t say I never will because maybe someday, I might have something wrong with me that marijuana might help me. But if you could get high with one person, who would it be? Oh! Hmm … probably one of my friends. What about a famous person? Dead or alive. Oh! I would say Drake. I love Drake. What is your favorite emoji? Palm trees and the smileys. I love emojis! They’re fun. What do you hope to accomplish as Baddie Winkle? I hope to be an inspiration to some older people, that they will get out more, do more things, and not be sitting on their butt all day. I enjoy being Baddie Winkle! I really enjoy it. Are you going to throw a party when you hit a million followers? Yes, I am! The photos from that party will probably be pretty epic. It might happen next week! Or in two weeks. When it happens, we will throw a party! This content is imported from Instagram. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site. https://www.cosmopolitan.com/entertainment/celebs/a39902/baddie-winkle-internets-most-fascinating/