The Alix Earle Phenomenon: Investigating how TikTok’s new it-girl may be changing the influencer landscape

WRITTEN BY Sáoirse Goes

February 4, 2023

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The Alix Earle Phenomenon: Investigating how TikTok’s new it-girl may be changing the influencer landscape

Sáoirse Goes

4 Feb, 2023

While Alix Earle originally blew up in late 2022 for her different style of ‘Get Ready With Me’ videos on TikTok, the internet’s newest obsession seems to be challenging the traditional ebb and flow of viral fame. Balancing meeting Selena Gomez, going on various brand trips and being in the final year of her marketing degree, the 22-year old University of Miami student seems to have it all. Earle’s rapid growth, along with the increasing media discourse surrounding her – with many of her fans posting videos questioning “what would Alix do?”, for instance – indicate a certain obsession with her persona and demand for the content she creates, but what lies behind the phenomenon of her seemingly overnight propulsion to Gen Z household name status?

Originally from New Jersey, Earle is currently enrolled in the final year of her Business Administration Bachelor at the University of Miami Herbert Business School, while interning for Earle, her family’s construction company since 2020, aiding in the firm’s marketing and social media. Despite this impressive resume, a significant aspect of Earle’s appeal stems from her active social life at university, as many of her videos feature her getting ready for frat parties or other themes parties in her busy college social calendar.

@alixearle

My DMS are always open if u need to rant #sororityrecruitment

♬ original sound – alix earle

Since October 2022, the creator seems to have skyrocketed to new heights of popular success, currently boasting 4.2M followers on TikTok and 1.9M on Instagram, with her videos on the former often reaching over 5M views. Interestingly, not one single video can be pinpointed as the turning point in her rise to popularity. Rather, her engagement has been soaring without threatening to plateau, with her audience growing even more on a daily basis. Crucial to Earle’s rise seems to be the ubiquitous discourse surrounding her. This content varies from her fans recreating her outfits or makeup style (note using white eyeliner on your undereye tightline to enlarge the look of your eyes) or recounting their experience meeting her, for instance. Nevertheless, the traction these videos garner is undeniable: the hashtag #alixearle has 736.7M views on TikTok, while #alixearlemakeup and #alixearlelive have 52.6M and 4.7M views respectively.

What sets her style apart from the conventional ‘Get Ready With Me’ (GRWM) genre, however, is that, rather than placing a focus on her makeup routine or on the products she uses, Earle uses these videos to tell stories. These range from more mundane stories like recounting her day or week, to discussing her experience with sororities. Many of these stories are compelling and relatable to a younger female audience, such as one video, where she explains her acne journey and her experience with the polarising Acutane treatment.

The reason behind the increasing popularity of this video style becomes evident when taking into account the shortening of attention spans TikTok has been accused of, with many popular videos having a side-by-side of gameplay (often of Subway Surfers or Minecraft) alongside a clip of a podcast video or a TV series. In this sense, watching Earle do her makeup while telling a fast paced story is perfect for retaining audience attention over the whole video.

This also informs another intrinsic aspect of her appeal: while Earle may not fit the conventional definition of the ‘girl next door’, the chatty quality of her videos combined with her bubbly personal unequivocally fosters a love for her from her audience. These factors in part explain the parasocial relationships her fans seem to garner with the creator and can be offered as a compelling reason for the internet’s obsession with her, while the obvious other reason remains her conventional attractiveness. The deconstruction of these elements seems to point towards the transfixing quality of their whole: with the seemingly fool proof formula of gripping video production, an animated and warm persona and arresting looks, Alix Earle is the archetype of the internet’s ‘hot best friend’.

Platinum blonde, blue-eyed and sporting a seemingly perfect tan, Earle is refreshingly open about the cosmetic treatments she has had done, notably having hosted a ‘Boobiversary’ party on the anniversary of her breast augmentation, while also vlogging her experience getting Botox and lip fillers. However, while bringing attention to these procedures is commendable, their price tag remains highly inaccessible and her openness risks being misconstrued as promoting these unattainable standards, especially to a younger audience.

Despite the extent of her appeal, much of the polemic surrounding Earle has been garnered in response to her business decisions and brand deals. Impressively, within the first few weeks of internet fame Earle posted a video with Selena Gomez, testing the latter’s new eye brightener for her Rare Beauty Brand. While this move appears to be a lucky bet on an emerging influencer on the part of Gomez’ marketing team, it inadvertently propelled Earle into the big league of brand deals, a striking contrast to her FashionNova beginnings.

Alix Earle/Instagram

Following a brief meeting with Hailey Bieber at a Rhode event, what cemented Earle into this new league was her spot on the recent coveted and controversial Tarte trip to Dubai. While conspiracies soared online on whether the trip was subsidised by the United Arab Emirates, others drew attention to her contemporaries struggling to promote the brand’s products. But Earle emerged unscathed, mentioning in passing that she decided to fly back to Miami earlier to attend a frat party, missing the even more controversial opening of Atlantis the Royal, which marked Beyoncé’s first live performance in five years.

On a smaller scale, Earle’s business decisions surrounding her personal brand feature an acute awareness of the media space surrounding her, while also seeming earnestly well-suited to her character. For instance, UMiami’s ultimate party girl attending Miley Cyrus’ New Year’s Eve bash seems too perfect a fit to pass up, so too is introducing Kygo onstage at the Pegasus World Cup races, while characteristically nervous and tipsy.

 

One of her most astute decisions ironically presented itself through her recent breakup with baseball player Tyler Wade. Indeed, when a commenter brought up their split on one of her lives, Earle cleverly replied that she would only tell the whole story if went on Call Her Daddy. While this may seem like an innocent throwaway comment, Alex Cooper’s $60M exclusive deal with Spotify propelled the former’s podcast to be one of the highest on the global charts, and would as a result propel Earle to new heights of popularity.

While aspects of her skyrocketing projection to fame seem arbitrary, resting on the internet’s rapidly evolving whims and interests, much of Earle’s appeal can be attributed to her warm authenticity and bubbly charisma. Crucially, Earle blends a knowledge of profitable business opportunities while retaining the party girl and university best friend charm which lends an air of jealousy and relatability around her rapidly growing audience – one that doesn’t seem to be showing signs of slowing down.

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