And Just Like That, Society No Longer Needed Carries

Before we had the phrase “main character moment,” we had Carrie Bradshaw, the woman known for her credit card debt, kitten heel collection, and love for a man we pray was not based on D*nald Tr*mp.

With a weekly column in the New York Star, a few best-selling books, and a stint at Vogue, Bradshaw was the original influencer—a quality it seems she’s holding onto. In a recently leaked script for And Just Like That, the upcoming reboot of the HBO hit that ran from 1998-2004, we learned that Carrie Bradshaw will be ushering her vintage narcissism into the new era in exactly the way we would expect: from behind a podcast mic. Where will Carrie’s Sex and the City pod land among modern competitors like U Up? While her insights may have been revolutionary in ‘99, her tired tips don’t hold a candle to today’s sex positivity, and her narcissism doesn’t translate either. 

Carrie Bradshaw was supposed to be the ultimate It Girl: career focused but not too busy, sexually free but hopelessly romantic, an enigmatic quirky Manhattan elite. She was written as the dream girl of every type of man, from finance guys in suits to artists to comic book enthusiasts. She sat front row at every fashion show, despite having worn a literal bird in her hair on her wedding day. She represented an impossible standard of perfection, one that every 2000s girl aspired to before ascending to adulthood and coming to the realization that Carrie Bradshaw is actually humanity’s shared nightmare. 

Between leaked scripts and the mysterious set photos of Natasha, we can’t stop thinking about the HBO hit that taught a generation of women to choose between four basic archetypes of femininity. We’ve spent decades taking Cosmo quizzes seeking the answer to an age-old question: which Sex and the City woman are you? We’ve refreshed the page so many times that we’ve missed the point: be anyone except Carrie.

Be a Samantha, a Charlotte, and a Miranda—a blend of our three supporting characters would make a classy, optimistic, sexually liberated woman who values her career, independence, friendships, and style. Imagine a world where a woman can wear Jimmy Choos without talking about it all goddamn day. 

If your vision board is still anchored by photos of Carrie Bradshaw’s hundred-pound body in 10 pounds of tulle, we have the solution for you. The best way to combat Bradshaw levels of narcissism is to perform a self-check. Let’s evolve the “which character are you” quiz into something actually helpful. Instead of asking, “am I a Carrie?,” ask yourself, “am I the problem?” Here are some useful tips:

Maybe I’m bitter because Carrie Bradshaw is the person who convinced me I needed a collection of dresses for the classic last-minute gala. The summer before moving to the city, I spent my days rewatching all six seasons of Sex and the City and ordering countless pairs of heels that would never see the inside of a subway car. The first few weeks in New York make anyone feel like a Carrie, like the main character; but a few morning commutes, a failed Hinge date, and a phone call with ConEd are there to bring you back down to Earth all too quickly. Remember this, city girls: there is nothing chic about credit card debt.

In its time, Sex and the City turned the tides for single women. At dinner tables and crowded bars, four women created space to talk openly about subjects that were once taboo, even introducing the world to the Rabbit. The show laid a foundation, albeit a thin one, for 20 years of sex positivity and female empowerment, even if aspects of it failed to hold up to modernity. With the evolution of modern feminism and the introduction of the Bechdel Test, Sex and the City’s mortal nemesis, longtime fans began looking to the show for nostalgia more than wisdom. Headlines once dedicated to “Carrie Bradshaw’s Best Fashion Moments” were replaced by roundups of “Carrie’s Worst Decisions on Sex and the City,” “10 Times Carrie Bradshaw Was A Jerk,” and “9 Times Carrie Bradshaw Was The Actual Worst.”

When it comes to nostalgia, HBO is a bloodhound, and they caught the scent and ran with it. So now here we are, counting down the days to the reboot that we never asked for and the main character we never liked. That said, when And Just Like That does finally drop, don’t reach out for at least three days, I’m busy. 

Be the main character without being a Carrie. Romanticize your life, but don’t forget that the people who will meet you in a diner at midnight to have another conversation about your Mr. Big are not your supporting characters. Look at your life the way Sex and the City should have always been seen, as an ensemble.

Oh and—justice for Samantha Jones. 

Image: Courtesy of HBO Max

Mom Influencer Myka Stauffer Used Her Adopted Child In Content, Then Gave Him Up

From scamming their followers out of all their money by convincing them to give up their bank account information to spamming their followers with giveaways to making questionable trips to the Hamptons, influencers have been coming under fire a lot recently. And the latest influencer controversy is probably one of the saddest yet, since it involves an innocent child and a family who adopted him, literally profited off of him, then gave him up. Over the past few weeks, people on Instagram, Reddit, and other forums have speculated that Myka Stauffer, an influencer and YouTuber with 170k followers on Instagram and 715k subscribers on YouTube, gave up her adopted child. The vlogger and her husband recently confirmed in a new video on her YouTube page that the family had, in fact, sent the child to live with a new family.

Myka Stauffer is, according to the “about” section on her website, “a Mommy of 4 from Ohio” who loves “sharing videos about Mommy life, DIYs, Organization, fitness, cleaning, lifestyle, and Day in the Life videos!” She has four children with her husband James, and in October 2017, she and her husband adopted a baby from China, Huxley. Even before he was adopted, she would post about the process on her family’s YouTube channel (which now has 330k subscribers), and even did a fundraiser for his adoption on their YouTube channel. In total, she and her husband made 27 videos about the adoption process, and more than one entitled “China Adoption Journey.” 

But things weren’t as easy and breezy as her content would make it seem. In June of 2019, she gave an exclusive interview to Moms.com where she talked about the challenges of adoption, saying she was “really nervous and scared” when she found Huxley’s adoption file and found “he had brain damage and brain tumor”, but she “prayed for a sign” that the adoption was meant to be. Sure enough, she learned, “our birthdays are very close. I just felt like and knew that he was supposed to be a part of our family.” Yeah, that’s definitely the quality you should be looking for when considering if you have the resources, knowledge, and patience to adopt a special needs child: if your birthdays are close together.

Once they took Huxley home, she would post about him pretty regularly on her Instagram, putting up pictures of him with her other kids, photos on Santa’s lap, even using him in ads.

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There’s nothing better than bonding with my little bear 🐻 I will take you as my lunch date, any day of the week! Today we made the world’s most delicious cucumber, cilantro and mustard sandwiches. Using Brownberry Organic 22 Grains & Seeds bread, and everyone loved it including Huxley! This organic bread from @brownberrybread is one that we trust as a family! It’s also a perfect snack for an on-the-go busy Mama that is trying to make nutritious choices for your little ones! #SliceofAdventure #ad

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But she said in the interview that early on, they noticed developmental issues, and after testing, she revealed in an article for The Bump, they learned he had autism.

But still, over the next two years he remained in their home, she continued posting him and her other children pretty regularly, usually with upbeat captions that talked about being grateful for her family. Typical influencer stuff. Sometimes, she would allude to challenges, like in a January 24 caption, where she accompanied a picture of her, her husband, and their children with, “Every day has new struggles, and new hardships but, there isn’t anyone else I would rather experience this with!” (She ended the caption with hashtags including #blessed #dontsweatthesmallstuff, though—again, typical influencer stuff.)

On February 16 of this year, Myka posted a picture of her and Huxley, writing in the caption, “The last couple days have been hard I don’t want to sugar coat anything. We have had a lot of melt downs, and lots of behaviors that have had us on our knees begging god for guidance! On social medial and YouTube we rarely show the behaviors or the hard stuff, because we try our best to respect our sons privacy and dignity. We have hard days, lots of them. I wish autism and adoption trauma had a manual to direct you through it all.”

Despite the challenges, Stauffer said in her June 2019 Moms.com interview that the difficulties she faced “made me want to fight for him more. That’s my personality. I’m a perfectionist. I’m a fighter. I am an advocate. If you tell me no, I’ll say yes, and find a way to make it work,” and it seemed like, despite the issues that came with raising a child with special needs, the Stauffers were committed. But ultimately that wasn’t the case. Soon after that February 2020 post with Huxley, followers started noticing he was absent from Myka’s photos, and started wondering where he went, even accusing Stauffer of deleting comments questioning his whereabouts.

myka Stauffer

On May 26, Myka and her husband put out a YouTube video titled “an update on our family” addressing the situation (which doesn’t appear on the home page of her YouTube channel under “newest videos”, you have to navigate to the “videos” tab to find it). In the video, Myka and her husband explain that they were unaware of a lot of Huxley’s needs when they decided to adopt him. Ultimately, Myka says, “after multiple assessments, after multiple evaluations, numerous medical professionals felt that he needed a different fit in his medical needs,” so they made the decision to send him to a new home.

Can you really just do that, give up your kid like a bad puppy or a designer bag you don’t want anymore? According to a 2018 report in The Atlanticalthough accurate statistics are not really available, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that between 1 and 5% of the 135,000 adoptions that are finalized in the U.S. every year end up being legally dissolved. And, no sh*t, children going through second adoptions are at risk of significant trauma.

As for Huxley’s sudden disappearance from their social media feeds, James explains in the video, “We haven’t made this video yet because we’ve been trying to protect his privacy, his rights, and try not to mess up his future that was laid out in front of us.” Myka adds, “and that’s why on Instagram and stuff I tried to let you know as little as I could, but I couldn’t tell you any more because I didn’t want to mess anything up with what’s going on legally.” At one point, Myka said that she intentionally “never publicly aired” “99, 95% of the struggles” they faced, but may have shown her followers “a teeny like, struggle or hardship when I was trying to be really raw and real.”

They both reiterated that, to protect his privacy, they did not and would not go into the details of what ultimately caused them to make their decision, but they did say that Huxley has found a new home, and the adoption agency placed him with “literally a perfect match.”

I am neither a parent nor an adoption or parenting expert, so I will not comment on the process of rehoming an adopted child, except to say that even if Huxley no longer lives with them, the Stauffers should still be actively looking out for his best interests since they publicized the first two years of his life on their huge platform. But I wonder where that concern for his privacy was when they were giving interviews to websites, going into detail about his developmental issues, posting about their struggles with parenting him to try to be raw and real, and literally using him for ads?

While Twitter is hardly the best temperature check for unbiased or balanced takes, users took issue with the fact that Stauffer earned money while posting about the child and his adoption, and then later gave him away. 

They may have their reasons for sending Huxley away, it’s heartbreaking, it truly is, but regardless of their reasons, the fact her Instagram posts carried on as if nothing happened, glorifying motherhood just makes me feel a bit ill.

— Beth_jw (@Bethjw3) May 27, 2020

im sick 😷 @MykaStauffer adopted an autistic child from china and after years of having him, she gave him up for adoption because he had “bad behavior” after using him for $$$ on her youtube channel of almost 1mil subs. people like this do not deserve followings or children

— lydia love 🦋 (@generichoe) May 27, 2020

Some of the more… shall we say… cynical users go so far as to accuse Stauffer of adopting the child strictly for views.

I mean he’s not wrong. She adopted a child for views and then got rid of him and treated him like a brand deal..

— Makenzie Ann (@Kenzie2013x) May 27, 2020

 

After the video went live, people on Instagram have taken to the comments of Stauffer’s brand partners, including Fabletics, urging them to reconsider their partnerships or expressing their intent to stop supporting the brands.

myka stauffer response

A change.org petition has also been started, demanding that YouTube demand the Stauffers (yes, in that order) remove all their monetized content with Huxley from their channels. 

I’m predicting that once this backlash reaches a high point, Myka Stauffer will lose a good number of followers and brand deals, at which point she will “quietly” “take a much-needed break” from social media, and return in about 21 days with a post of her biological children talking about gratitude in the caption, and Huxley’s presence will be thoroughly scrubbed from all their channels, as it should be.

The problems with this entire heartbreaking situation are too many to count, but it highlights a serious issue with parent bloggers/Instagrammers and those who make content about their kids: they build their brand and career off of real people who can’t really consent to or understand what is happening. The internet lives forever (or at least until the end of 2020, because I’m not convinced the world is going to make it through another year), and all these children of these influencers are going to find the things their parents said and wrote about them, for better or for worse. This case is most definitely for the worse. Maybe the only time the Stauffers did right by Huxley was when they refused to go into detail about the specifics of what led to him being rehomed, and hopefully, they will do whatever they can now to protect his privacy.

Images: fabletics, Myka Stauffer / Instagram; Myka Stauffer / Youtube; @kenzie2013x, generichoe, Bethjw3 / Twitter

Why Are Influencers Suddenly The Villains?

These days it feels like there’s no group with a bigger target on their back than influencers (aside from white men over 50, of course). There seems to be a new form of entertainment in the form of watching influencers being dragged online, exposed on accounts and forums dedicated to influencer muckraking, and labeled with the scarlet C: COVIDIOT.

We’ve witnessed many influencer scandals before, but our current quarantined status has turned influencer dragging into a digital gladiator ring, with accounts such as @deuxmoi and @influencerstruth exposing influencers and calling out markers of privilege. These markers include private travel (in the case of @tanyazuckerbrot getting criticized for leaving NYC on a private plane in the midst of the pandemic) and promotions of expensive clothing (in the case of @mamaandtata calling an $850 dress reduced from over $1,1000 a “steal” in a since-deleted post). These accounts also feature full dissections of past drama (like that between @ariellecharnas and @amandakloots, who haven’t trained together in years) and family backgrounds, often by culling information via unverified but assumed-to-be-true DM submission. Basically, a special counsel investigation of whose dad can pay for what, but told via screenshots and Instagram story fonts. I know because I’ve been devouring these accounts with a feeling that can only be described as glee, and also some relief that I don’t have extremely rich parents.

 

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Well as long as @tanyazuckerbrot had a private plane it doesn’t matter that she decided to leave NYC, right? 😏 Keep in mind, this is the same person who openly supported Arielle Charnas on her Instagram page. Two of a kind. #COVIDiot #pagesix #ffactor #covidiots #ariellecharnas #tanyazuckerbrot

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In many cases, the criticism is well-deserved but more vitriolic than ever, so my question is: why now? Why this thirst trap? You might argue that it’s the influencers’ own tone-deaf behaviors that are the only cause of the recent draggings, and in some cases you’d be absolutely right. But in other cases, where what counts as a social distancing faux pas is a little bit unclear (the recent Morning Toast controversy over a family rooftop birthday that led them to mute their own Facebook group because of what they called “toxicity” comes to mind), the commenters have still been extra quick to wield their pitchforks with criticisms of privilege and accusations that the person thinks they’re above the rules, a murderer, etc.

If sunlight isn’t the antidote for coronavirus, it certainly is for influencers, because it finally feels like people are becoming aware of what has enabled the influencer industry from the start, which is a bubbly pink cocktail of privilege and entitlement. Or at the very least, people are starting to become unsettled by the status quo. Unlike florals for spring, it really isn’t groundbreaking that in order to become a top fashion influencer, you very likely started with a significant amount of financial subsidy from your family in order to fund the lifestyle required to photograph yourself in high-end clothing, and also that usually with family money comes access to connections. You know, rich people.

None of this is news and has been the reality since influencers became a “thing”. It’s not that hard to have great styles to photograph every day if you’re thin and attractive with a luxury wardrobe and a large bank account attached to it. I’m old enough to remember that’s how the earliest—and to this day, some of the biggest—fashion influencers stood out. I mean, no hate to these people for their given life circumstances, and it’s notable that many have adapted their platforms to spotlight causes and raise money alongside their favorite hair mask recs. Having worked in the media industry for years, I’m also fully aware that being an influencer is a legitimate full-time job, and that money and connections only get you so far. But still, let’s not pretend we hit a triple when we were born on third base, or that we’re just meeting our Bachelor in Paradise co-contestant for the first time when we hooked up in NYC three months ago.

The thing that’s changed is that now swaths of the general population are losing their loved ones and family members, being laid off, living in cramped environments or at home with their parents, dealing with an array of serious life stressors. When that’s your reality, it’s no longer a pleasurable experience to watch someone parade around their generational wealth-funded mansion in a pajama set that cost $200 (but 10% off with code RICHBITCH!), seemingly unaware of (or at least, unaffected by) the mass suffering going on around them. From watching the most boring era of their lives, you see the wealth that allowed these accounts to start and continue with a safety net. A lot of the time, influencers can take the “risks” to go out on their own (i.e. quit their job to become an influencer) that most people never could, and they are hardly risks anyway because in many cases they are well connected enough to ensure success, or at least enough success to convince yourself you did it all on your own.

For the audience, in the absence of having this for oneself, it feels good to be mad about it, especially when one of these privileged individuals makes a misstep that’s insensitive, unsafe, or even objectively wrong. They have it all handed to them, they should be perfectly considerate and self-aware of everything they have! If I were them I would NEVER act this way! There’s a whole showtune dedicated to this feeling: schadenfreude. And we feel it because we’re humans, and humans can be jealous, petty creatures, especially when manipulated by an internet algorithm designed to rile us up because what the f*ck else are we supposed to do, our jobs??

At the same time, as humans we also have a desire for things to feel “fair”, and it’s the extreme contrast between our experiences that may be the source of so much internet anger—especially when everything about this virus and the havoc it is wreaking feels so unfair. We’re more likely to lean into this anger now than ever, when we can’t go about our plans to do things that help us feel like we’re a little better or more aspirational than we really are. When we’re all stripped down to our most basic lives, it becomes obvious that our favorite “relatable” influencer was actually not relatable at all.

 

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I’m sorry, what? “They took a road trip for some much needed air.” So @kendalljenner traveled 478 miles on a road trip to Sedona because she needed some fresh air? Because LA isn’t sunny and 75 every day and you live in a mansion where you have plenty of outdoor space! They are the epitome of horrible humans. Hey @suns @nba – are you okay with one of your players breaking the rules like that? #COVIDiot #kendalljenner #kardashians @people @usweekly @pagesix @espn @nba

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Unlike the average person’s life, it appears on social media that influencers’ lives have barely changed. Same sh*t, different OOTD. Same skin care, different wrinkles (due to the fact that botox is not yet deemed an essential service). It also doesn’t help that they can’t seem to help but continue to post everything they do, when reading the room would be better than reading a Kindle book for the sake of posting it on Insta story.

People are suffering right now, and they’re craving the connection that social media once promised us. We don’t want discount codes (although discount codes happen to be influencers’ most material contribution to my life), we want real human contact and empathy. Since no businesses are open, it’s become so much easier to appreciate nature, just being outside in sunshine and open air, having a simple interaction with friends and family we haven’t seen and still can’t hug. That’s the page it feels like most people have gotten on, while many influencers appear to be on another planet. Or maybe just on their private flight from Palm Beach to East Hampton that they just couldn’t help but flaunt for the hate-views.

This article has been updated to more accurately reflect the nature of @deuxmoi’s content

Images: Rob Kim/Getty Images for Alice + Olivia by Stacey Bendet; influencerstruth / Instagram

Arielle Charnas Is Back On Instagram After Her COVID-19 Scandal

How many days have we been quarantining? I stopped counting weeks ago—it got too depressing—but it’s officially been long enough for a public figure to be canceled, take a few weeks off of social media, then make their PR-approved reappearance into the public sphere. You love to see it. Or do you? I don’t know anymore. Of course, I’m talking about Arielle Charnas, the fashion influencer who was universally dragged last month for her bizarre choices after testing positive for COVID-19.

After a couple weeks of confusing posts, sh*t hit the fan for Arielle when a Twitter thread breaking down the timeline of her actions went viral. The issues centered around her decision to travel with her family from New York City to a rented home in the Hamptons while she was likely still contagious. There’s a lot more to the story, and I recommend reading this article for a full refresher, but none of it made her look great.

 

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After the backlash became too much to ignore, she took to Instagram on April 2nd, with a written apology post so long that I still can’t force myself to make it to the end. Actually, I’m not sure “apology” is the right word, because it reads more like an extended justification, but I think that’s what the intent was. Along with that post, she addressed the controversy in a series of Instagram stories of her hysterically crying.

Anyway, since those posts on the 2nd, it’s been radio silence from Arielle Charnas, which was probably a smart move. To her credit, she didn’t turn off comments on her “apology” post, and some of them are… intense. Arielle definitely made some dumb decisions, but I think anyone would need a break from social media after that.

On Friday afternoon, the three-week drought came to an end when Charnas posted a photo with her two kids. For the record, it is very cute, and I would expect nothing less. In the caption, she thanks her followers for “letting me take time to reflect”, which is a classic celebrity apology go-to. I love when celebrities say sh*t like this because it’s like, what’s the alternative—her followers go to her house and demand that she post something? Don’t get me wrong, I would be hiding out after getting virally shamed too, I just love that it’s always rebranded as if it’s done by choice.

 

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We missed you guys so much!! Thank you for letting me take time to reflect and be with my family. It has opened my eyes in so many ways both personally and professionally and it is this growth that I am extremely grateful for. Can’t wait to reconnect with you all – love you guys. 🤍

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She continues, saying this time “has opened my eyes in so many ways both personally and professionally and it is this growth that I am extremely grateful for.” Ah yes, the textbook sentiments of eyes being opened and painful growth and, above all, gratitude. Arielle finishes by saying that she “can’t wait to reconnect” with her audience, and I don’t doubt that at all. Imagine being a professional Instagram personality stuck inside your house, and for three weeks you can’t even post on Instagram? That sounds like absolute torture.

It’s pretty clear that this relatively short Instagram caption was crafted within an inch of its life by a PR team, and that’s pretty much what I would expect. It’ll be more interesting to see, in the coming weeks and months, if Arielle Charnas actually seems to change anything about her content, or how she lives her life, or if she’s just saying what a publicist told her to. It will be equally interesting to see if this scandal will continue to put her future actions under a microscope, or if our collective memory span is too short to hold people accountable for prolonged periods of time. Only time will tell, and at this point, it’s not like I have anything else to pay attention to.

Images: Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Fossil; ariellecharnas / Instagram (2)

8 Things Everyone Needs To Stop Doing During Quarantine

So now that we’ve all been in isolation for a few weeks, we’ve pretty much lost our f*cking minds. Which means people are starting to do a lot of weird sh*t that usually we would not tolerate for one second, but under the circumstances, is now considered normal. It might be totally fine for literally everyone to post their homemade banana bread on their Instagram story, but that doesn’t mean I’m interested in seeing every step of your morning routine. Enough is enough—here’s all the sh*t you’ve got to stop doing during quarantine.

Going Live On Instagram

I’m not sure how so many people got the confidence to go live on Instagram so often, but I really wish they hadn’t. What could you possibly have to talk about that is so interesting that I deserve to get a dozen notifications telling me you’re going live? We’re all living the exact same f*cking lives right now. Plus, I’ve accidentally tuned into enough of them to know that no one’s watching anyway. 

Not Knowing How To Use Zoom

Me: I just did this really hard online escape room
Coworker: you mean our company Zoom meeting?

— sarafcarter (@sarafcarter) April 13, 2020

We’ve been at this for weeks now, and you still can’t tell whether you’re on mute or not? Please, for f*ck’s sake, just figure it out. Every extra minute spent on a Zoom call because a vacuum was drowning everyone out or because Karen went through her entire presentation before realizing no one could see her screen, is a minute we could’ve spent getting drunk all by ourselves in our own homes on a weekday at 10am.

Instagram Challenges

You know what all the single people quarantining alone asked for? Definitely not for every couple to post their first picture taken together. That’s actually maybe the last thing we could’ve ever wanted. And don’t get me started on the push-up challenge. We’re only a month or so into this thing, and I really don’t want to know what weird sh*t everyone’s going to be posting on Instagram because of a hashtag by the time this is all over.

FaceTiming Without Warning

Just because everyone is technically “available” at all times now doesn’t mean that we’re all prepared to show ourselves on camera without notice. A lot of the rules we usually live by may be out the window right now (or maybe forever? Who the f*ck knows), but if we let everything go by the wayside, society will crumble altogether. So yeah, you’re still gonna need to give a heads up so we can all put on clothes and hide the pile of snacks we were eating before you called.

The Exercise Craze

The workouts I’m not doing starter pack pic.twitter.com/555exXSwsW

— sami fishbein (@samifish1) April 12, 2020

Listen, I get that exercise is like, “good for you,” and we’d all probably go totally stir crazy if we don’t do some sort of regular physical activity. But somehow suddenly everyone is a personal trainer qualified to share their full workout routine every day? Count me the f*ck out. If you want to build a quarantine booty, good for you. If I want to build a booty shaped dent in my couch, that’s my business. And let’s get rid of this whole “don’t gain the quarantine 15” bullsh*t. What your body looks like at the end of this mess should not be the biggest concern.

Productivity Shaming

“If you don’t leave quarantine with a new side hustle, a finished novel, or a new business, you wasted your time.” B*tch, we are in CRISIS. Anyone who manages to fold a single item of clothing during this entire time period deserves to be celebrated for their productivity.

Acting Like An Influencer

It’s not a “set.” It’s a sweatsuit you got at Kohl’s.

— Jared Freid (@jtrain56) April 11, 2020

Sure, post a picture of the sourdough you just made, since apparently, we’re all bakers now, and I can maybe handle a post of your “fit of the day.” But that is where the line is drawn. No one asked to see your morning routine, a time-lapse of your workout, or your mildly embarrassing TikTok dances. We did not all become influencers just because we suddenly have no one to talk to but our phone camera.

Hanging Out With Your Friends In Person

If you’re seriously still doing this sh*t, I just wanna talk. Like, have you not been on the internet once in the last month? ‘Cause that’s the only explanation I have for why you’d think it’s still okay to go over to your friend’s apartment, meet up for a group hang at the park, or have someone over for “6-feet-apart drinks.” When everyone’s still in quarantine a year from now, we’re all looking at you.

Obviously, we’re all going a little crazy totally f*cking nuts, but that doesn’t mean that everything we live by as a society should fall apart. You weren’t an influencer before, and you’re certainly not one now, so let’s all just calm down and try to keep a little bit of our dignity for when we have to start facing each other in person again.

Images: fizkes / Shutterstock.com; sarafcarter, samifish1, jtrain56 / Twitter

Trying To Become An Instagram Influencer Ruined My Life

They pose seductively in perfectly styled bedrooms or smile wide with the backdrop of an exotic location behind them. You see them wearing the newest trends or showcasing the latest beauty products. 

The photos that pepper the Instagram profiles of Instagram influencers—or those trying to become “Insta-famous”—tell a story of glamour, excitement, and access. The sales strategy works so well that influencers can turn promoting these brands to their followers into a full-time job. 

But, as Betches discovered during a series of interviews with women who were trying to make a living being Instagram-famous, there’s another side to this new business model. Many who are trying to grow their following to make a living are finding that the more popular their Instagram profile becomes, the more stressful, isolating, and mentally toxic their real lives get.

“It’s so easy to become obsessed with the persona you are creating (on Instagram),” said Isabelle Dungan (@izabizabelle), a media personality and creative consultant who was tasked with becoming an Instagram influencer for a digital travel series.

“Getting to a lot of followers”—which generally means over 5K for smaller influencers and 500K+ for bigger contract deals—“is a full-time job,” says Dungan, who was tasked with growing her employer’s Instagram account to 10K or more. “It’s very easy to get totally sucked in.”

It’s not only easy to get sucked in, it’s nearly impossible not to. By its very design, Instagram is addictive. There is evidence that getting a like on Instagram can trigger the same kind of chemical reaction in the brain as gambling and drugs. (So the next time your mom accuses you of being addicted to social media, she might have a point.) Dr. Harshal Kirane, Medical Director at Wellbridge Addiction Treatment and Research, explains, “The same pathways that enable us to connect with healthy behaviors (such as bonding with others) are the same pathways that can get co-opted and activated to seek out really unhealthy habits. Instagram intentionally designed a number of algorithms to ensure the mechanism of receiving likes is activating that underlying pathway.” 

Megan Gentry (@meganngentry), a photographer and brand influencer, said she experienced a major mental shift when Instagram became taking over her life. “Being an influencer took up a lot more time than I expected,” she said. “I knew that if I spent more time on a post I would get more likes on it and more engagement. So I started scheduling my day—my friend time, my family time—around posting. Getting the perfect shot, editing it, and making everything flawless became my whole life.”

The investment in curating her feed to such an extreme paid off, and she began gaining more followers, accruing more likes on her posts, and getting more lucrative offers from brands to showcase their products. But the larger her audience grew, the more problems she started facing in her life offline. She moved from Napa, California to New York City, where someone at one of the brands she worked with taught her how to use Photoshop to make herself appear thinner in photos. “Before I started using Instagram I already struggled with depression and anxiety,” Gentry said, adding that after she learned Photoshop, she noticed she started getting more followers. “I developed a really bad eating disorder in that time frame. All for a photo. I wanted to look in real life how I looked in the Photoshop version. I sort of let go of everything else I cared about, so I could get perfect photos, get paid more, and work with more brands.”

And then there are the comments, PMs, and harassment that goes along with being famous on the Internet. 

“About two years ago, when I hit 10K followers, I started getting a lot of messages,” said Gentry. “It was really exciting but it also got easier (for strangers) to bash me. It became dehumanizing in a way.” 

Initially, Instagram was a positive outlet for her. “When I was posting my photography and having fun with the account, it was great. But when I got a larger following, my anxiety got like 10 times worse. I was worried about posting every day because I wanted my following to grow but then I got additional anxiety about the hate comments.”

Gentry also noticed a change in her boyfriend of three years. “He was sleeping on the couch, playing video games, and barely talking to me when we were together. But when I was out in public he would be like ‘this is my girlfriend, she’s a beautiful Instagram influencer.’ He started using me to grow his following and would get jealous of me.” Eventually, they broke up. 

Dungan echoes how the intense focus on growing Instagram followers can take a toll. “I lost a lot of money buying outfits and makeup and facial products,” she explains of the personal investment she made to grow the travel company’s Instagram account, which focused mainly on her as the host of their digital show. Dungan describes spending thousands of dollars on travel as well as facial products, blowouts, makeup and clothes to look the part. “I always wanted to put my best foot forward. It was a lot of pressure and I really didn’t feel supported on any level.”

But she thought it was an investment worth making. “They sold me a story that I would get a lot of brands to sponsor me. It never happened.” While she admits she was investing in herself as a brand as well, “I was doing this with the hopes that I would see a lot of return on that. And six months later I am heavily in debt and the company conveniently pulled the plug on the project as soon as I broke up with my boyfriend (a co-founder of the production company) before we even got into post-production. The men running the company treated me as completely disposable.” 

 

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h2o

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The issues facing Instagram influencers are so widespread that mental health advocate Larissa May created the organization Half the Story (#halfthestory) with the intent of helping people find healthy relationships with social media.  

“People that are spending more than three hours a day on social media are more likely to experience symptoms of social isolation, depression, and anxiety. And brand influencers are virtually spending their full days on their phone, it’s a full-time job,” said May.

She notes that even when followers know that influencers’ profiles don’t show the full truth, people still compare themselves. “With media and magazines, for the past 50 years, we have been comparing ourselves to the people on the billboard,” she says. “Now that billboard is in your hand at all times, you yourself are on that billboard every day of your life, and everyone is constantly comparing themselves. These comparison tactics and thoughts are part of humanity, yes. But social media places a huge magnifier on that construct.”

For both Gentry and Dungan, getting to a healthy headspace took time—and distance from the platform. Gentry said a three-week hiatus gave her the space she needed to mentally reset, and she was able to re-engage with Instagram with stronger boundaries in place. She reveals that when she returned to using Instagram, she unfollowed “all the pages that made me unhappy or made me feel bad about my image and that helped a lot.” Still, Gentry admits, it’s a challenge to scrub her account of everything that sparks the impulse to compare. “To this day, I have a hard time following certain influencers, even though I love them, because I know that it’s triggering for me.”

Like May, Dungan wants her experience to help shield other young potential influencers from the pitfalls of trying to be Insta-famous. While she is still posting to her personal account, she has taken some time away from being the face of a brand and is engaging with the platform in a more empowering way. “You have to be really passionate about what you’re creating, and be sure it’s creating value for society and your life, otherwise don’t do it,” says Dungan. Especially for young women. I want them to know that they have a choice and can make their own decisions.”

Images: Megan Gentry; @izabizabelle / Instagram

An Influencer Is Going To Prison After Attacking Someone Over A Website Name

At this point, it’s really difficult to be shocked by anything an influencer does, but this story just might do it. This year, we’ve seen influencers post problematic ads, lie about their lifestyles, and fake sexual assaults, but none of that can compare to the 14-year prison sentence that was recently give to Rossi Lorathio Adams. We’re used to these people doing shady sh*t, but what he did is on a whole different level.

Adams began his social media career in 2015, when he founded an account called State Snaps. The account, which grew to over a million followers across Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, featured user-submitted content centering around, to quote the US Attorney’s Office statement, “young adults engaged in crude behavior, drunkenness, and nudity.” Basically, the content was a whole lot of people behaving badly, and naturally, people loved it. (Kind of reminds me of another site that ended up in the news for all the wrong reasons, I’m Shmacked.) To submit content, followers used the hashtag #DoItForState, and it became the slogan of the whole account.

Logically, Adams wanted to create a website using the slogan, but doitforstate.com wasn’t available. It was registered through GoDaddy to a man in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but that didn’t sit so well with Adams. Between 2015 and 2017, he continually tried to convince the man to give up the domain name, offering to buy it from him, but his efforts didn’t work. So, in June 2017, he went for a different tactic. Buckle up, because this is where this goes from “Fyre Festival promo video” to “Law & Order episode”.

Adams and his cousin, Sherman Hopkins Jr. (who is a convicted felon), drove to the house of the domain owner and Hopkins broke into the home. According to the statement, he was wearing dark sunglasses and pantyhose over his head, and was carrying a stolen gun and taser, along with a note with instructions on how to transfer the domain name to Adams. Surprise, surprise, they didn’t make it to that part. Hopkins held the gun to the man’s head, and also pistol-whipped him with it several times, but the man was then able to take the gun. In the struggle, he accidentally got shot in the leg, but then he shot Hopkins in the stomach several times, and finally called the police.

I’m kind of obsessed with this story. First of all, imagine caring this much about anything—let alone a f*cking WEBSITE URL. Like, just add a hyphen or something, no one will even know the difference! If you have a million followers on Instagram, I’m pretty sure it’s gonna be fine either way. In fact, the company’s website is currently up and running at “doit4state.com,” which is like, the same thing!! (We couldn’t find their official social media pages, so we’ll assume those have been shut down.)   This whole thing is so dumb I can’t even handle it.

But I also can’t believe how wild things got once Hopkins broke into the house. He essentially waltzed in there with a sad, handwritten note explaining how to use GoDaddy’s features, and things just went so wildly wrong. I really can’t wait for the inevitable Hulu miniseries about this fiasco, because it’s going to be incredible.

Now, more than two years after the original incident, the legal loose ends have finally been tied up. Hopkins, who survived the shooting, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, which actually kind of surprised me. Like, not that he doesn’t deserve it, but I still can’t believe that all of this happened because someone wanted a domain name. As for Adams, he was convicted of “conspiracy to interfere with commerce by force, threats and violence” back in April, and last week, he was finally sentenced. He received 168 months in federal prison (that’s 14 years, idk why they write these things like moms saying how old their toddler is), and was also ordered to pay nearly $35,000 in restitution and fees. According to the legal documents, he had a public defender but was continuing to make money off of the State Snaps accounts while the case was being tried, so he has to pony up the legal fees. As for the prison time, doing some sponsored posts probably won’t help out with that (especially considering he does not appear to have an Instagram).

If this is the last influencer scandal we talk about in 2019, it feels like a fitting climax to a crazy year. Will 2020 be the year that influencers finally get their sh*t together and stop giving us reasons to talk about them? Almost certainly not. These people have proven time and time again that they don’t know how to act, and the content just keeps on coming. Best of luck to Rossi Adams in prison, and uh…don’t shoot anyone for a domain name, kids.

Images: Linn County Corrections

The Best & Worst Influencer Beauty Collabs Of 2019

Influencer

/ˈinflo͝oənsər/  

noun

noun: influencer; plural noun: influencers

a person or thing that influences another.

Influencer Collaboration: an influencer and brand teaming up to scheme you into buying their *must-have* products. 

Influencer collaborations are a dime a dozen nowadays, and only the strong survive. With a million and one launches being not-so-subtly shoved in our faces every time we open any form of social media, it’s important to narrow down which collaborations are actually worth the purchase, and which are a major skip. 

The Successes

Jeffree Star x Shane Dawson 

Jeffree Star, punk singer-turned-YouTube beauty influencer-turned-mega millionaire business owner, recently launched his cosmetics line collaboration with YouTuber Shane Dawson. A simple Instagram campaign was not enough, so the two partnered for a YEAR to put together a seven-piece docuseries about the ~BTS~ of working on a makeup line. There were smiles, there were tears, there were meltdowns… which sounds like a typical Monday in my book. 

 

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UPDATE & #SWATCHES 🚨 #RESTOCK ➡️ TOMORROW !!! There will be a Pre-Order of the Conspiracy Palette (60k) AND Mini Controversy Palette (60k) 💸 *will ship around end of Nov, early Dec . Next full collection restock will be in 2020! . The Conspiracy Collection #JeffreeXShane 🐷💗🖤 #HOLIDAYS2019 ———————————— The collection includes: 1. The Conspiracy Palette (18 shades) $52 #EyeshadowPalette 2. The Mini Controversy Palette (9 shades) $28 3. Bundle palettes $72 4. 6 #VelourLiquidLipstick shades (matte, Metallics) $18 each Shane – Burnt Brass Ryland – Are you filming – deep red OOh My God – sparkly nude I Gotta Go – lavender Jeffree, What the F***? – hot pink 5. Liquid Lipstick Pig Vault $90 6. Shane Glossin’ Clear Gloss $18 7. Diet Shane #LipBalm $18 8. Conspiracy Collection Bundle (all makeup + black imprint travel bag) $210 9. Pig 🐷 Mirrors $30 each black & pink 10. makeup bags: Imprint travel bag $30 Black double zip $40 Pink double zip $40 Accessory bag $30 Pink side bag $35 Black side bag $35 11. Track jogger $45 Track jacket $55 . 🐷🖤💗 . . In general I enjoy the eyeshadow formulas by JSC, they feel smooth and soft, they are pigmented and always have some fun shades. From the Conspiracy palette I love the bottom row especially (gives more of a winter vibe) and Trisha is a gorgeous shade (Flaming Hot swatch has 2-3 layers and My Ride’s Here is black with more of a grey tone). I found the Controversy palette super wearable…Love What’s the tea? and Exposed. They are beautiful matte shades. This is definitely a collectors collection 😍🖤 the packaging is so dope and different. I also ordered a few bags can’t wait to get it!!! . What did u get? 🖤🐷 XO #Trendmood #jeffreestarcosmetics #jeffreestar . #makeuplover #beauty #bbloggers #makeupartist #makeupart #eyeshadow #eyes #eotd #motd #mua #makeupaddiction #makeup #makeupjunkie #makeupobsessed

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The seven-hour long series averaged 18.7 million views per video (casual) and resulted in the duo “breaking the internet” come collection launch time. And I don’t mean “break the internet” in the way Paper magazine throws it around every month now—I mean, Shopify was down for almost three full hours, with 2+ million unique users attempting to make purchases on the website at once, which was documented in full in the series finale. In the docuseries, Star calculated that Dawson himself could walk away with 10 million dollars in collection revenue. Given that the collection did in fact sell out in its entirely across all retailers, we’ll assume that the duo met their goal. 

When categorizing the year’s top influencer collaborations, I’ll put this one as the number-one hit of 2019, given its great success, positive reviews, and sincere demand for restock

James Charles X Morphe

While on the topic of men dominating the beauty industry, we’ll talk James Charles, and his collaboration with Morphe. Charles, who had a tumultuous 2019 with his involvement in “Dramageddon 2” (I can’t believe I am actually referring to this term), launched “The James Charles Palette” in November of 2018, and sold out twice before hitting the 2019 mark. 

I’ll divert for a moment to explain what Dramageddon is/was (judging myself, again) just because I feel like it’s necessary. 

Fellow YouTuber/beauty guru, Tati Westbrook, came out with a (since-deleted) video in May titled “Bye Sister”, consisting of Tati sitting down for 40+ minutes and ripping her former BFF James to shreds. The video left the internet in a frenzy, giving gossip channels content for YEARS, and allowed other beauty gurus (i.e. Jeffree Star) to weigh in and cancel James Charles. Followers/gossipers/14-year-olds who live for this sh*t called it “Dramageddon”.  

Anyway, James’ palette, which launched long before this weird internet moment, sold out multiple times as mentioned, and makes it to my must-have influencer collaboration list. The shadows themselves work well, it’s affordable, and it covers just about every single look you’d ever have an interest in creating. If I had to take one eyeshadow palette to a deserted island (unlikely), it would be this one. 

 

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More #SWATCHES 🚨🌈 The NEW #UnleashYourInnerArtist Palette 🎨 @morphebrushes X @JamesCharles . Remodeled after the 39A This is one palette that can create any look! Top 2 rows are for everyday looks Middle row with the bigger pans contains 7 most used colors, Last 2 rows are rainbow shades The palette includes Metallic shades, 1 glitter pigment, 1 highlighter shade and all others are mattes colors. (Pressed pigment formula rather then eyeshadow formula) $39 . And.. there is more: A Full BRUSH Collection 🖤 which includes (there 2 custom brushes): ****Note: Every eye brush in the collection comes with a duplicate !!! 1. Custom James Charles x Morphe Brush Tubby (Brush case) 2. Highlight & Contour Beauty Sponge 3. Brushes: M439 Deluxe Buffer Brush E48 Mini Pointed Powder Brush M527 Deluxe Pointed Powder Brush M405 Contour Blush Brush E62 Angled Nose Contouring Brush * created by James for a contoured nose E4 Angled Contour Brush M501 Pro Pointed Blender M410 Flat Concealer Brush M173 Mini Buffer Brush M224 Oval Camouflage Brush X 2 M431 Precision Pencil Crease Brush X 2 M158 Angle Liner/Spoolie Brush M441 Pro Firm Blending Crease Brush X 3 M433 Pro Firm Blending Fluff Brush X 3 M456 Mini Firm Blending Brush X 3 * M433 little sister, created by James M166 Oval Shadow Brush X 2 M124 Firm Shadow Brush X 2 M506 Tapered Mini Blender Brush X 2 M152 Medium Chisel Fluff Brush X 2 M250-1 Detail Liner Brush X 2 . 34 piece face brush collection with contour sponge custom James Charles brush case $149 Set of the palette and brush is $180 . Will be available ➡️ NOVEMBER 13TH @ 8 am PST *use code: TRENDMOOD 10% off / #ComingSoon @ultabeauty . . YES! FOR COLOR!! 🌈😍 What’s on your list? #TRENDMOOD #morphe #morphebrushes pic: #jamescharles THANK U for this gorgeous update: @coffee_mascara😘 . . . . . . . . . . . . #instabeauty #beauty #beautyaddict #cosmetics #bblogger #beautyaddict #beautyblog #beautycare #makeupart #makeupartist #makeupblogger #makeupobsessed #wakeupandmakeup #maquillaje

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Sidenote: James Charles x Morphe launched a “second phase” of this palette—mini sizedand I am pretty sure nobody cared. Spend the extra $13 and get the OG.

KKW x Mario

Kim and her beloved makeup artist, Mario Dedivanovic, joined forces for a mini collection including an eyeshadow palette, lipstick, lip gloss, lip liner, and blush. The palette was the star of the collection, and major influencers including Tati Westbrook and Jeffree Star (both of whom typically hate everything) had nothing but positive things to say about the duo’s first collection. 

 

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Koko Kollection round 3 is available NOW! 😍💞 shop our gorgeous new collection by @khloekardashian ✨

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Koko Kollection by Kylie Cosmetics

Kylie has teamed up with a majority of her fam to make mini collections, and while some were a serious fail (the internet, influencers and fans alike, happily killed the Kris Jenner collection—more details to come), Khloé found success. The collection is universal, high-quality, and pretty, to put it simply, and the reviews are convincing. 

An overall win for the industry in 2019 was the celebration of drag makeup. Drag queens are obviously pioneers in the beauty community, but don’t always take the spotlight when it comes to new beauty launches. This year we had major collaborations from major brands and major queens, including…

Anastasia Beverly Hills x Alyssa Edwards

Aquaria x NYX

and of course…

Mally x RuPaul

The collections are all equally fun and fabulous, with the spirit of all queens alike, and the inclusion of drag in everyday makeup was a major industry shift in the right direction. Winning!

The Misses

Erika Jayne x Too Faced

I hate to call this next collaboration a fail, so instead, I’ll refer to it as ~a pretty mess~. I am just as Housewives-obsessed as the next, and when I heard that Miss Erika Jayne was doing a collaboration with Too Faced, I was thrilled. But. Too Faced has a bit of a rocky reputation in the beauty community. Most of the controversy revolves around CEO Jerrod Blandino, who had a “Rich Lives Matter” birthday cake at his most recent birthday, just to give you give you an idea of the type of person we’re dealing with. On top of that, the brand itself has had its fair share of drama with influencers alike, including Jeffree Star and Nikkie Tutorials after Nikkie’s Too Faced collaboration grossed $9+ million in sales, but only paid her out $50,000. BUT Erika Jayne is a queen so we had to support her endeavors. The collection featured an array of makeup, with names that only Mrs. Girardi could get away with (including DSL Lips and Pat the Puss highlighter) making this collaboration a fun fail. 

The feedback was mixed off the bat, but in the long run, the makeup ended up at TJ Maxx stores, steeply discounted (at less than half its original price), within a few months. Nonetheless, we respect this icon for making *XXPEN$IVE* moves.

Now that we’ve celebrated the Kardashian’s successful makeup endeavors, it’s only fair that we highlight the fails as well, because even the world’s youngest billionaire makes mistakes.  

Kris “Momager” Kollection by Kylie Cosmetics

It turns out, the devil worked harder for this one. Kylie Cosmetics is typically known to make decent quality makeup, and we all know Kris Jenner rules the world, but people ripped this collection to shreds. YouTubers including Jaclyn Hill and Nicol Concilio explained to fans that the quality was simply not up to par, and viewers agreed. 

The packaging, cute. The products, patchy.

KKW x Winnie Harlow

 

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@KKWBEAUTY X WINNIE // September 13th 🖤😭🥰🙏🏽 @kimkardashian

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Kim teamed up with model Winnie Harlow for a special moment in her collection, but it fell short. For starters, the campaign photos of Kim and Winnie are a bit, um, questionable given the fact that Kim and Winnie were edited to be almost the same skin tone, which we know they are not. And, unsurprisingly, people had something to say about it.

This is what we call a Photoshop Fail, and the internet was not thrilled. In terms of the collection itself, fans were “bored”, calling the collection unoriginal and safe.

 

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About to drop! 🚨Online @kkwbeauty NEW! Collaboration 💗✨ . #kkwbeauty @kimkardashian x @winnieharlow #kkwxwinnie #winnieharlow The collection includes: 1. #EyeshadowPalette $49 Harlow – metallic icy golden champagne Coco Bean – neutral mid tone brown Kintsugi – matte walnut brown Bella – metallic red brown Supernova – metallic amber Atelier – metallic rose gold Couture – metallic shimmering plum Ruby – matte rich burgundy Confidence – Metallic pink with golden undertone and multi-dimensional pearl Duochrome – smokey bronze duochrome with multi-dimensional pearl River Falls – metallic charcoal blue with silver shimmer Obsidian – matte smoldering black with pink and gold shimmer 2. Highlighter Duo $26 Luna highlighter: shimmering golden pink Soleil highlighter: shimmering warm copper bronze 3. Glosses $18 each / $42 bundle Tiger Eye: warm nude rose with champagne pearl Secret: dusty pink with silver pearl Aura: soft nude with pink pearl 4. Full collection $112 . . Also a #RESTOCK 🚨 for the #BodyCollection 🙌🏼😍 . . What’s on your list? 💛💗✨XO #Trendmood #kkw . . . #motd #makeupoftheday #mua #ilovemakeup #makeup #makeupaddict #makeuplover #makeupblogger #makeuponpoint #onpoint #makeuplook #makeuplove #makeuptalk #makeuptutorial #makeuplover #makeupaddict #makeupaddiction #makeupdolls #onpoint #onfleek

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As we wrap up 2019 influencer collaborations, I can’t wait to see what 2020 brings. Let me know who YOU want to see team up with a major brand and drop your predictions below.  

Images: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images; GIPHY (2); Trendmood1, winnieharlow /Instagram; Jeffree Star Cosmetics; Kylie Cosmetics; Anastasia Beverly Hills; NYX Professional Makeup; QVC; Too Faced; Jaclyn Hill, Tati, Nicol Concilio, NikkieTutorials/Youtube

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