UPDATED: Caroline Calloway Is Responding To ‘The Cut’ Essay

Before I even got a chance to post a painstaking piece in which I attempted to recap the latest Caroline Calloway drama, spurred by a recent essay in The Cut, I made the mistake of checking Instagram, and I saw that Caroline had uploaded what I assume to be the first of many rebuttals to Natalie Beach’s essay about their friendship (among other topics). To provide a brief recap: Caroline Calloway is an Instagram influencer (of what variety, I’m not entirely sure—travel? Writing? Both?). Natalie and Caroline were friends, Caroline became big on Instagram, and they collaborated on her Instagram captions, and later, on her memoir. This all blew up when Natalie wrote an essay for The Cut about what it was like working and living in Caroline’s shadow. At first, Caroline was directing her followers to her post and maintaining something of a middle ground. As time (read: all of about 12 hours) went on, she put increasingly more distance between herself and the piece. Now, she’s going full nuclear.

In an Instagram post, Caroline uploaded the photo that served as the article’s main image, and stated her intentions to basically eviscerate Natalie’s essay point by point.

 

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Alright, guys. I just got out of therapy. I just read Natalie’s article. I feel stronger than I’ve ever been. And I’m ready to get to fucking WORK. Seven years ago I used Instagram to build a world on Instagram and a story about who I am. Now I’m going to use this same app to raze those things to the motherfucking ground—post by post. And build something better in their place. Something true. First order of business: Getting very fucking clear about which captions I had help with and which captions I wrote myself. It’s normal for writers to have editors and for artists to have friends who collaborate closely on projects and shape each other’s style. I refused to shamed for this. And because here’s the thing: Natalie didn’t write my captions FOR me. Never. Not once. We wrote them TOGETHER. And my best captions—the captions about Cambridge—I wrote BY MYSELF after our friendship had shaped me and helped me find my voice. Natalie is inextricable from my writing not because she is the mastermind behind my sentences but because my love for her and HER love of words shaped me into the writer that I am. Ok! Let’s get to it! This is going to be a tedious amount of posts back-to-back, but it needs to be done.

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She writes, “Alright, guys. I just got out of therapy. I just read Natalie’s article. I feel stronger than I’ve ever been. And I’m ready to get to fucking WORK. Seven years ago I used Instagram to build a world on Instagram and a story about who I am. Now I’m going to use this same app to raze those things to the motherfucking ground—post by post. And build something better in their place. Something true. First order of business: Getting very fucking clear about which captions I had help with and which captions I wrote myself. It’s normal for writers to have editors and for artists to have friends who collaborate closely on projects and shape each other’s style. I refused to shamed for this. And because here’s the thing: Natalie didn’t write my captions FOR me. Never. Not once. We wrote them TOGETHER. And my best captions—the captions about Cambridge—I wrote BY MYSELF after our friendship had shaped me and helped me find my voice. Natalie is inextricable from my writing not because she is the mastermind behind my sentences but because my love for her and HER love of words shaped me into the writer that I am. Ok! Let’s get to it! This is going to be a tedious amount of posts back-to-back, but it needs to be done.”

Translation: Buckle the f*ck up, because sh*t is about to get real.

Look, it’s normal for people to have help writing their captions. We all do it, right? We turn to our friends and ask, “what should my caption be?” But what happens when your friend asks you for input on her caption, but she’s getting paid to post content and you’re not? Right: this situation we’re in now.

 

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I lied about the Yale plates because I was a liar at age twenty. And twenty-one. I slowed down at twenty-five because in order to quit Adderall I had to quit lying to myself about how addicted I was. But I didn’t lie to Natalie about the rainbow macarons and the Explore page. Nor did I lie to her about buying followers when I began my brand five years ago. I’ll walk you through that in my response piece—wherever it is published. I think my first choice would be selling a twin essay back to @thecut / @nymag to be bookends with Natalie’s. But I’m open to other options if any editors want to reach out to my manager @amkrasner . His email is in my bio. But in the meantime, I want to begin here. Instagram in 2012. The app was different and so was my account. All of these photos have been deleted because I didn’t feel that they “fit” with the vibe of “psychotic scammer” I was trying to put into the world. KIDDING! I was trying to be taken seriously as a writer and I thought these frivolous one-liner jokes with Pinterest aesthetics didn’t serve my larger purpose of telling stories online. So this is where my account really begins. But we can go back to those posts because this online archeological dog site has been destroyed. So let me show you the next best thing.

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“I lied about the Yale plates because I was a liar at age twenty. And twenty-one. I slowed down at twenty-five because in order to quit Adderall I had to quit lying to myself about how addicted I was. But I didn’t lie to Natalie about the rainbow macarons and the Explore page. Nor did I lie to her about buying followers when I began my brand five years ago. I’ll walk you through that in my response piece—wherever it is published. I think my first choice would be selling a twin essay back to @thecut / @nymag to be bookends with Natalie’s. But I’m open to other options if any editors want to reach out to my manager @amkrasner . His email is in my bio. But in the meantime, I want to begin here. Instagram in 2012. The app was different and so was my account. All of these photos have been deleted because I didn’t feel that they “fit” with the vibe of “psychotic scammer” I was trying to put into the world. KIDDING! I was trying to be taken seriously as a writer and I thought these frivolous one-liner jokes with Pinterest aesthetics didn’t serve my larger purpose of telling stories online. So this is where my account really begins. But we can go back to those posts because this online archeological dog site has been destroyed. So let me show you the next best thing.”

Caroline gives us an answer to what is perhaps the most perplexing mystery of this whole saga: what happened to the Yale plates? Caroline doesn’t say, but we can surmise that she got rid of them, and then lied about it. Then, she plugs herself, basically, and frankly, I’m considering answering the call.

She also talks about how Instagram and her account have evolved since 2012, and she no longer has her old photos on her feed because they don’t fit her aesthetic anymore. Which brings us to her next post…

“Incredibly, what’s left of my Instagram account begins with one post from the Met (my actual first post ever) and then! The trip to London that Natalie talked about in her essay. It’s a relief to give these captions they deserve. All of these are: By Natalie Beach and Caroline Calloway”.

“By Natalie Beach and Caroline Calloway Oh? And hey @businessinsider ? Could you stop using this photo of me twirling in the heart-shaped sunglasses as the cover photo of every fucking story you write about me. I think it’s really cringe, too, and imagine if someone published a story about you today AND THEN HEADLINED IT WITH YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING PHOTO FROM YOUR INSTAGRAM ~~~~SIX YEARS~~~~ AGO? No one deserves that.” 

Yeesh, as someone who went through my own Instagram posts a few days ago, I can agree with this sentiment. The filters! The contrast! It was all so horrid back then. I would probably spiral too if my cringeworthy 2012 bangs made national news.

Caroline is now uploading a series of screenshots of her own grid, crediting both herself and Natalie for the captions (or giving Natalie full credit where applicable). I’m not going to embed all of the posts, because it’s repetitive and you’ll get the point pretty quickly, so here is one example:

“By Natalie Beach and Caroline Calloway

Pay special attention to the “How To Celebrate Fourth of July” caption. That one was more Natalie than me. And it is exceptionally funny.”

I’ll continue to update if Caroline posts a more substantial response, but my take is this: yes, it’s sort of about the captions, because that is what Caroline built her loyal following off of. But it’s way more than that at this point: it’s about the overall picture that Natalie paints in her essay in The Cut. By zeroing in on the captions, this rebuttal is kind of missing the point. I’m eager to see what response Caroline pens in the outlet of her choosing, but for now I get the picture: Caroline took the pictures, and she and Natalie worked on the captions. And again, I’ve got to ask: why is such an ordinary practice such a massive deal?

The Yale plates have made an appearance. Someone please reach out to the plates for comment.

 

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The summer of 2014 is when everything started coming together. I had finally found my voice as a writer. I no longer depended on Natalie to sign off before I posted something. I was writing stories that were important to me and I was getting feedback everyday about how important my stories were to the girls that read them. I had bought a couple tens of thousands of followers, which I had leveraged into a community of thousands of real followers. And it was growing. The reason was this: In the same way that I anticipated the trend towards long captions and using Instagram to tell the stories of our lives in real time, I also spotted the potential for Instagram ads from a mile away. It seems obvious now, but it was a breakthrough then and fucking brilliant when I realized I could pay these large accounts to post about me and target my ads to the kind of followers that I wanted! Because that was the thing. I didn’t want FOLLOWERS. I wanted READERS. So I bought ads with BOOK fandom accounts like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games; The Fault in Our Stars was big that summer. Paying for posts seemed like an outrageous idea at the time and the anonymous people who ran these accounts and whom I paid $10 an af thought I was throwing away my money. I gain 150,000 followers over the following summer. I didn’t know it then, but this summer in Sweden would be my most emotionally stable and creatively productive for the next five years. Only THIS SUMMER have I exceeded the levels of artistic output that I achieved that summer. Secluded in Sweden with Oscar that summer where midnight never comes and the end of summer vacation doesn’t come until October (!) I wrote and wrote and wrote.

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Now we start getting into the meat. And, for the record, I’m including all the captions just in case Caroline decides to delete all these posts.

“The summer of 2014 is when everything started coming together. I had finally found my voice as a writer. I no longer depended on Natalie to sign off before I posted something. I was writing stories that were important to me and I was getting feedback everyday about how important my stories were to the girls that read them. I had bought a couple tens of thousands of followers, which I had leveraged into a community of thousands of real followers. And it was growing.

The reason was this: In the same way that I anticipated the trend towards long captions and using Instagram to tell the stories of our lives in real time, I also spotted the potential for Instagram ads from a mile away.

It seems obvious now, but it was a breakthrough then and fucking brilliant when I realized I could pay these large accounts to post about me and target my ads to the kind of followers that I wanted! Because that was the thing. I didn’t want FOLLOWERS. I wanted READERS. So I bought ads with BOOK fandom accounts like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games; The Fault in Our Stars was big that summer. Paying for posts seemed like an outrageous idea at the time and the anonymous people who ran these accounts and whom I paid $10 an af thought I was throwing away my money. I gain 150,000 followers over the following summer.

I didn’t know it then, but this summer in Sweden would be my most emotionally stable and creatively productive for the next five years. Only THIS SUMMER have I exceeded the levels of artistic output that I achieved that summer. Secluded in Sweden with Oscar that summer where midnight never comes and the end of summer vacation doesn’t come until October (!) I wrote and wrote and wrote.”

If this is true, I have to give props. I didn’t even get on Instagram until like, 2014, and never cared to consider if, in the future, it might become an advertising platform and way to make money. And, frankly? So many people buy followers nowadays that nobody would bat an eye. Maybe Caroline was a visionary who was ahead of the times. Or maybe, as my dad says, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

 

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I announce a book coming in 2016–then two years away in 2014. I start setting up meetings with literary for when I’m back in New York. I don’t know how a girl publishes a book, but I know I can make it happen. I do not know my increasing Adderlal usage will become a problem. I meet with literary agents and sign with Byrd Leavell that spring. Back at college I hardly post. Not because the workload for my degree is intense (it is) but because every time I put something online everyone in school screenshots it and makes fun of what I write writing. “Like bad fan fiction of bad fan fiction,” is an excellently-written British insult I got during that time that will be seared on my brain until the day I die. No one at Cambridge—not my peers and definitely not my professors but not even my friends—see what so am building as an asset. Only my Mom, Oscar, Byrd, and Kelsey take me seriously when I talk about my Instagram captions. I manage to crank out a few captions that spring anyways while still in England. I spend months writing each one and each one feels like a terrifying triumph once it goes live.

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“I announce a book coming in 2016–then two years away in 2014.

I start setting up meetings with literary for when I’m back in New York. I don’t know how a girl publishes a book, but I know I can make it happen. I do not know my increasing Adderlal usage will become a problem.

I meet with literary agents and sign with Byrd Leavell that spring. Back at college I hardly post. Not because the workload for my degree is intense (it is) but because every time I put something online everyone in school screenshots it and makes fun of what I write writing. “Like bad fan fiction of bad fan fiction,” is an excellently-written British insult I got during that time that will be seared on my brain until the day I die. No one at Cambridge—not my peers and definitely not my professors but not even my friends—see what so am building as an asset.

Only my Mom, Oscar, Byrd, and Kelsey take me seriously when I talk about my Instagram captions.

I manage to crank out a few captions that spring anyways while still in England. I spend months writing each one and each one feels like a terrifying triumph once it goes live.”

“November 6th, 2015: The first time I publicly talk about Natalie being my editor. I flat-out tag her in a post because I feel sick to my stomach with guilt. But I make one very enormous lie. We co-wrote the book proposal. She edited my captions six years ago. But we CO-WROTE that proposal.”

Finally, some admission of wrongdoing or guilt. It took us numerous posts, but we got it.

 

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2015-2016 are big years for me career-wise and addiction-wise. Byrd has told me that in order to sell my book for the amount of money I want to sell it for I need PRESS. It seems crazy now as I couldn’t stop reporters from writing about me if I tried. But over those two years I send out hundreds of cold-call emails pitching myself to reporters, begging them to write about me. Finally the Daily Mail does a story on me and from there is snowballs. Once I get one article about me, I get twenty. By this point I’m taking so much Adderall I have to wear a coat at all time because all the amphetamine is doing something weird to my heart and my limbs get cold otherwise. This is, incredibly, not rock bottom. I still have a full calendar year of addiction left ahead of me and the apparent unraveling of my book. From Instagram, things still look okay.

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“2015-2016 are big years for me career-wise and addiction-wise. Byrd has told me that in order to sell my book for the amount of money I want to sell it for I need PRESS. It seems crazy now as I couldn’t stop reporters from writing about me if I tried. But over those two years I send out hundreds of cold-call emails pitching myself to reporters, begging them to write about me. Finally the Daily Mail does a story on me and from there is snowballs. Once I get one article about me, I get twenty. By this point I’m taking so much Adderall I have to wear a coat at all time because all the amphetamine is doing something weird to my heart and my limbs get cold otherwise. This is, incredibly, not rock bottom. I still have a full calendar year of addiction left ahead of me and the apparent unraveling of my book. From Instagram, things still look okay.”

Next, Caroline writes in a subsequent Instagram post that she gets a new profile pic and keeps trying to get press for herself. In another post, she screenshots a New York Times article that ultimately concludes that she is not a scammer. It seems she may be done defending herself for the night, but if you’ve read so far, here is a quick recap:

-Caroline is pointing out which captions she wrote and which ones she got help with
-She admits that Natalie co-wrote her book proposal, which she lied about
-She says she buckled under the pressure, brought on in part by her classmates’ mockery of her Instagram
-She confesses she was in the throes of an Adderall addiction during the time she was supposed to be writing her memoir

And that’s about it for right now! Truthfully, it’s all I can handle. And for those of you who are asking “why are people talking about this?” may I kindly direct you to my first article?

Update 9/12: Last night, Caroline posted screenshots to her feed of other publications’ writeups about her. (I am sad that mine didn’t make the list). Then, this morning, she posted a collage NBC made of her, with another long-ass caption that is riddled with typos and grammatical errors.

 

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Going to keep working on the giant infographic I’m making on my grid tomorrow. I just have four more posts for it planned. I came so close to finishing it all in one day, but excellent progress was made here. You may not like it or think that it’s important or say that I’m manic or spiraling or melting-down. And that’s fine. You’re entitled to your opinion although I ask kindly that you go express your concern somewhere else. I know what I am making and I have a creative vision that I will execute. Anyone long-time readers who have seen me cranking out 6-9 long captions A DAY since JUNE know that during this chapter of my life (so just this summer) it is very standard for me to be making up for the years I didn’t post and spending six hours a day on Instagram. Building a body of work on here that satisfies and thrills me is a top priority. If people can appreciate what I am doing that is only a bonus on top of feeling creatively engaged. Thank you, NBC need for this weird turquoise collage. I actually really don’t mind the cringey photo of me twirling in that dress when it’s integrated with photos of me now. No matter what I do, I will always have been that cringey person. It’s just nice to see her integrated into the cringey person I am now. OH DID YOU THINK I DIDNT KNOW THAT IT’S FUCKING WEIRD TO REPOST YOUR WHOLE INSTAGRAM WITHIN THE MEDIUM OF YOUR INSTAGRAM? I don’t care. I mean—obviously I do care. I am a cringey person who cares a whole lot and hat is just my truth. But one of my greatest super powers is that I never let my strobing desire to be liked get in the way of being true to who I am. I think this grid-wide infographic re-cap is fascinating and significant for my readers and cool. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to get back to writing my response for @thecut . Working title: “I Am Caroline Calloway.”

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“Going to keep working on the giant infographic I’m making on my grid tomorrow. I just have four more posts for it planned. I came so close to finishing it all in one day, but excellent progress was made here.

You may not like it or think that it’s important or say that I’m manic or spiraling or melting-down. And that’s fine. You’re entitled to your opinion although I ask kindly that you go express your concern somewhere else. I know what I am making and I have a creative vision that I will execute. Anyone long-time readers who have seen me cranking out 6-9 long captions A DAY since JUNE know that during this chapter of my life (so just this summer) it is very standard for me to be making up for the years I didn’t post and spending six hours a day on Instagram.

Building a body of work on here that satisfies and thrills me is a top priority. If people can appreciate what I am doing that is only a bonus on top of feeling creatively engaged.

Thank you, NBC need for this weird turquoise collage. I actually really don’t mind the cringey photo of me twirling in that dress when it’s integrated with photos of me now. No matter what I do, I will always have been that cringey person. It’s just nice to see her integrated into the cringey person I am now.

OH DID YOU THINK I DIDNT KNOW THAT IT’S FUCKING WEIRD TO REPOST YOUR WHOLE INSTAGRAM WITHIN THE MEDIUM OF YOUR INSTAGRAM? I don’t care. I mean—obviously I do care. I am a cringey person who cares a whole lot and hat is just my truth. But one of my greatest super powers is that I never let my strobing desire to be liked get in the way of being true to who I am. I think this grid-wide infographic re-cap is fascinating and significant for my readers and cool.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to get back to writing my response for @thecut . Working title: “I Am Caroline Calloway.”

So basically, there’s going to be some big infographic that will explain all. (You’ll notice, as this thing goes on, I have less and less patience for this stunt.) Caroline acting like writing 6-9 long Instagram captions per day (that nobody in 2019 wants to read) is arduous work is, frankly, laughable. Especially when those captions are riddled with typos, grammatical errors, and incorrect words. Also of note is that Caroline is supposedly working on a piece for The Cut, though I can’t tell if that statement is serious or just a joke. If she does manage to write a rebuttal, I sincerely hope they will publish it, and I genuinely can’t wait to read it. This is my life now: following the ramblings of an influencer whose fame I grasp but do not truly understand. I will die amongst the word vomit of Caroline’s captions. Just leave me here.

 

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Yesterday on my phone as my manager was prepping me for interviews because we are in a media SHITSTORM right now he said, “Whatever you do, you just gotta stop saying that you still love Natalie. No one believes you.” But the truth is I do. More than ever. When we were still best friends I don’t think I even saw her clearly enough to love her because I didn’t see the real her. She didn’t share it with me and I was too wrapped up in my addiction and early twenties to make enough emotional space for her that would have fostered a good environment for sharing. I loved her brilliance and her humor and her strength, but I now I love the anger and insecurity and jealousy, too, that I never saw until now. I have a lot of other, messy, CONFLICTING emotions as well, like anger and betrayal. But I keep coming back to the love. Or it keeps coming back to me. I’m publishing a photo with Natalie’s face in it because she just gave an interview to The New York Times where she included a photo with both our faces. Notes: One, fucking leave Natalie alone with those comments about the food. I remember eating pesto minestrone with her, okay? Natalie’s not a journalist. She’s a fucking ARTIST. Ditto the pencil shop. Two, I know every editor in New York—the publishing capital of America and arguably the English speaking world—fucking follows me. So. Guys. WHO IS GIVING NATALIE A BOOK DEAL? WHO IS GOING TO PY HER TO WRITE HER NEXT FREELANCE PIECE? HER INBOX IS ALREADY FILLING UP. BE QUICK! She deserves these jobs because she’s the best writer I know. But I have power in this situation and I intend to use it to help her even though we are no longer friends. Her highly anticipated personal essay for The Cut would not have taken off it were not SUPERB. But it was highly anticipated because I made it so. The feelings I wrote about feeling were real. But I made a choice to feel them publicly. Natalie’s hitting the home runs. Could she hit home runs in a rainstorm? YES. But I am trying to give her sunshine to bat in. I meant it that first day when I told her she was beautiful. Her eyes are pale green.

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“Yesterday on my phone as my manager was prepping me for interviews because we are in a media SHITSTORM right now he said, “Whatever you do, you just gotta stop saying that you still love Natalie. No one believes you.” But the truth is I do. More than ever. When we were still best friends I don’t think I even saw her clearly enough to love her because I didn’t see the real her. She didn’t share it with me and I was too wrapped up in my addiction and early twenties to make enough emotional space for her that would have fostered a good environment for sharing. I loved her brilliance and her humor and her strength, but I now I love the anger and insecurity and jealousy, too, that I never saw until now.

I have a lot of other, messy, CONFLICTING emotions as well, like anger and betrayal. But I keep coming back to the love. Or it keeps coming back to me.

I’m publishing a photo with Natalie’s face in it because she just gave an interview to The New York Times where she included a photo with both our faces.

Notes:

One, fucking leave Natalie alone with those comments about the food. I remember eating pesto minestrone with her, okay? Natalie’s not a journalist. She’s a fucking ARTIST. Ditto the pencil shop.

Two, I know every editor in New York—the publishing capital of America and arguably the English speaking world—fucking follows me. So.

Guys.
WHO IS GIVING NATALIE A BOOK DEAL?

WHO IS GOING TO PY HER TO WRITE HER NEXT FREELANCE PIECE?

HER INBOX IS ALREADY FILLING UP. BE QUICK!

She deserves these jobs because she’s the best writer I know. But I have power in this situation and I intend to use it to help her even though we are no longer friends. Her highly anticipated personal essay for The Cut would not have taken off it were not SUPERB. But it was highly anticipated because I made it so. The feelings I wrote about feeling were real. But I made a choice to feel them publicly. Natalie’s hitting the home runs. Could she hit home runs in a rainstorm? YES. But I am trying to give her sunshine to bat in.

I meant it that first day when I told her she was beautiful. Her eyes are pale green.” 

Okay, now I’m convinced this entire thing was a marketing plot for both these women. On the one hand, bravo. This seems like exactly the type of stunt that someone who basically made her own targeted Instagram ads in 2012 would come up with. Of course I’m annoyed for falling for it.

In all seriousness, do I think Natalie and Caroline faked a falling out so that they could get publicity 7 years after the fact? Obviously not. But they are milking it for all it’s worth. And now, I think I can exclude myself from this overwrought, typo-riddled narrative without reservation. We all get the gist. This is a one-sided back-and-forth of Caroline’s creation. Until she posts any sort of coherent rebuttal, I think we’ve learned everything we need to know here.

Images: carolinecalloway / Instagram

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