If you’re on Instagram, you may have heard of Helen Van Winkle, the 87-year-old great, great grandmother who has amassed more than 1 million followers with her alter ego Baddie Winkle. It all started when one day Helen’s great, great granddaughter Kennedy came home to find her grandmother wearing her tie-dye tshirt and cut-off jean shorts. Kennedy thought her grandmother looked cute, so she snapped a pic and posted it on her Instagram. The image went viral and the duo had so much fun reading the comments that they created an account for Helen under the name Baddie Winkle.
Helen says that she wasn’t born to be bad, but has always been a rebel. She loves to have fun and doesn’t apologize for wanting to live every day to the fullest, saying “Live and let live!” In this video from Refinery29, Helen explains that she created Baddie in part to cope with the deaths of her son and husband, saying “I cried all the time because I couldn’t come to terms with it, so I made myself over into Baddie Winkle.” Since the launch of her Instagram account last year, Baddie Winkle has also joined Twitter, where she has more than 200,000 followers. Baddie has caught the eye of marketers and recently secured a modeling contract with a swimsuit company, and last week, made a cameo appearance at the VMA’s. But that’s just the beginning for this vivacious and fun loving grandmother. “I hope to one day get a reality show, and I still want to skydive and learn to windsurf. I have a long bucket list.” But most importantly, Helen wants to be a role model for older people, “You are only here once in your lifetime, so have fun!”