If you’re still wondering how a bunch of millennials got suckered into attending the train wreck that was the Fyre Festival all you have to know is two words: Instagram models.
Most of the money that should have gone to providing food, proper shelter and, um, entertainment for the people who were stuck at horribly mismanaged, Ja Rule-co-founded festival went to models who were well-compensated for promoting the event on their Instagram pages. Vice News reported that Kendall Jenner was given $250,000 for one Instagram post (which has since been deleted), while other models were paid no less than $20,000 for their services.
As crazy as it sounds, Instagram models are becoming quite the tastemakers these days. If you have these models (or “influencers,” as they’re known) in your corner, you can gets scores of people to do your bidding, as the Fyre Festival notoriously showed us. Well-known models Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski and Alessandra Ambrosio were just a few of the “reps” who promoted the fest by taking part in a sunny, bikini-clad photo shoot and posting the photos on their pages.
That’s right – if you are beautiful and love taking well-lit selfies of yourself, you can get paid quite handsomely for it by companies looking for endorsements. For example, Playboy model and clothing designer Abigail Ratchford has 7.5 million followers and has reportedly raked in $3.42 million – and she’s only 25! But she’s not even the Instagram model making the biggest bank. That honor goes to Australian fitness trainer Kayla Itsines, who earned $46 million last year. You can also go on globe-trotting trips with your favorite celebrities. Irish model Ava Van Rose recently, allegedly revealed that Drake took her out on tour with him for six weeks.
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Since they’re still social-media stars, they also get a fair share of hate. Dallas model Niece Waidhofer invited Reddit users to roast her on the site’s “r/roastme” section, which you should never, ever do. They proceeded to drag her so mercilessly (“Your implants and cry for attention on here only highlight what you and everyone else already suspect … you are insecure” – and that was one of the tame ones!), she ended up deleting her Reddit account. Models will also get shade from actual celebrities. Selena Gomez, the most-followed person on Instagram with 120 million followers, has been a staunch critic of the Instagram model set. When she won Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist at last year’s American Music Awards, she used her speech to slam those who do nothing but show flesh on social media. “I don’t want to see your bodies on Instagram. I want to see what’s in here,” she said, holding her chest.
Every generation has had its crew of ubiquitous, influential lookers. I still remember the ’90s, when “supermodel” was a legitimate line of work and women like Cindy Crawford, Elle Macpherson and Kate Moss were considered A-list stars. We can even take it back to the ’70s and ’80s, when platinum blondes Cheryl Tiegs and Christie Brinkley became Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover girls and instant objects of desire. And, of course, how can we forget when pixies Twiggy and Edie Sedgwick took the fashion world by storm during the ’60s?
Listen, if people can successfully make a good hustle snapping photos of themselves on Instagram, then more power to them. (I wish I could make loot that way. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the mugshot that accompanies this column, your boy ain’t that stunning.) But they should also be more cautious of how they make their money, who they do business with and where their money is coming from, especially if they want to hold onto it in the future – you know, just in case this modeling thing doesn’t work out. Remember the models who promoted the Fyre Festival? Well, they’re also mentioned in a class-action lawsuit for failing to label their photos as ads, as required by the Federal Trade Commission. (Ratajkowski was the only one who did that.) Let this be a lesson to people coasting by on their looks: being beautiful only gets you so far.