The newest face of Rihanna’s lingerie line is also the baddest octogenarian on the block.
With more than 3.6 million followers on Instagram and 214,000 followers on Twitter, 89-year-old Helen Van Winkle has transformed from an unknown great grandmother to a bona fide internet sensation known as Baddie Winkle.
In 2015, Winkle says she was suntanning when she put on a pair of her great-granddaughter’s shorts and T-shirt. Her granddaughter snapped a picture of her sporting the eccentric look and shared the image to social media. Within hours, the photo received thousands of likes. The then 85-year-old and her 17-year-old great-granddaughter quickly set up her own Instagram account, creating a persona that showcases an eccentric sense of style that blends both rave and hippie culture.
Celebrities such as Rihanna and Miley Cyrus were among the first to take notice of the Kentucky-born former factory worker, who developed an online moniker as “Baddiewinkle” after being told she looked “badass” by her followers.
Winkle and her great-granddaughter, Kennedy Lewis, have developed a lucrative online presence that redefines stereotypes and expectations for senior citizens, proving that age ain’t nothing but a number.
“I don’t feel old,” Winkle told Refinery 29. “I have never felt old. I think you can dress any way you want to…I don’t like ‘old women’ clothes. I never wore them in my life. But I would also never be caught dead in pasties or short-shorts that show half of your butt. I’ve had pictures made like that, but I just did it for the fun of it.”
Having previously partnered with brands like M.A.C and Burker King, Winkle has cemented her image as a sensual, man-stealing hippie by modelling the latest collection of Savage x Fenty, the inclusive lingerie line from singer and business mogul, Rihanna.
With her trademark inclusion of millennial internet slang, Winkle poses seductively in the new images with the caption, “WHERE my manz @ ????????”
“Baddie Winkle has helped me a lot — in spirit, anyway,” she told Refinery 29. “The lessons that I have learned is live and let live. I would love to be a role model for older people. You’re only here once in your lifetime, so have fun.”