The Controversial Rise to Fame of TikTok Sensation Alix Earle
| LAST UPDATE 01/19/2023
In the blink of an eye, Alix Earle became an internet sensation with over 2 million TikTok followers. As impressive as this is, many have questioned how the 22-year-old influencer got to this point...
The 'It Girl'
Almost every online user out there will have heard the name, Alix Earle. She's been described as "the Internet's hot best friend" and "TikTok's latest 'it girl,'" with her name hashtagged 297+ million times.
Earle was not a slow-burn success story, a tale of a persistent dream. On the contrary, she's what the internet considers an overnight success story, a nobody to somebody in a matter of weeks. But this rise to fame has not come without its fair share of controversy. We're tracking her journey from the bottom to the top.
Before Alix Earle became a name on TikTok, she had already been creating videos and cultivating an audience on YouTube. After being introduced by a friend to the newly popular TikTok app, Alix decided to sign up and give it a go. She immediately saw the potential to reach a wider audience than ever before.
With its unique platform and visuals, she took advantage of the opportunity to share her content with more and more people. Plus, it was easier for fans to interact with her directly through the app and create a community around her work - something that had been more difficult for her to do on YouTube.
Her First Venture
Alix's first TikTok Video in February 2020 showed her friends in college dressed in trash bags before heading off to an 'anything but clothes' college party. Much to her surprise, it exploded with 2+ million views, far exceeding other social media posts at that time!
Immediately, she secured herself a faithful following of passionate fans who just wanted to know what crazy adventure she was up to next. But in early 2023, things took a turn when her TikTok followers tripled in number. Clearly, there's something unique about Ms. Earle, and we're investigating what that is.
The Get Ready With Me (GRWM) concept has been tried and tested since the birth of social media. Influencers talk their followers through their makeup routines, pointing out each product as they go. This earned them major brand deals and staggering followings as people rushed to know the 'it' new products.
The University of Miami senior marking major decided to shake things up regarding the formula of GRWM - and has welcomed significant fame for doing so! Rather than noting each product, Earle merely uses them in front of the camera while talking about her life adventures.
A Unique Approach
With 3.4 million followers on TikTok and 1.3 million on Instagram, Earle is clearly doing something right. With these numbers, she is considered one of the fastest-growing creators of all time. So what is it behind her approach that has her standing out from the influencer crowds and leading her way through the ranks of TikTok?
In fact, an entire subset of TikTok videos has been developed, with many users analyzing and discussing the works of Alix. Hundreds attempt to understand what she's doing right - while others use the platform to point out her controversial side. Whatever side they're taking, Miss Earle has got everyone talking.
Show, Not Tell
Coco Mocoe, a TikTok trend forecaster, explained that Alix's "show-not-tell method is working" well to attract brands and consumers to her page. "If you do something cool, you don't have to talk about how cool it is. If audiences appreciate the video, they're going to actively seek out what it is you're doing," she explained.
"And they're going to feel more inclined to buy it because you didn't pressure them," she continued. "In the time you save not talking about the product, you can start talking about yourself and forming that emotional connection with the audience."
Pulling Up the Receipts
Demonstrating just how true this is and how influential Earle is without even trying, TikTok users are creating their own videos based on her footage, discussing her life and routine. Diana Melstrad spent hours working out which products she uses and breaking them down for her followers.
The video seemingly met an overwhelming demand, accumulating 80,00 likes within days. "Immediate follow!! You should have seen me at Ulta playing different GRWM videos of Alix's trying to find products [laughing emoji]," one user commented. All in all, the 18 products totaled $497.
Recreating the Magic
Other TikTok users have also tried to recreate Earle's magic by copying her makeup routine on camera. Celebrity makeup artist @facesbydanii, who has 13,800 followers, uploaded a video doing so - and racked up almost 300,000 views and 13,00 likes before the end of the day.
Using products such as MAC Cosmetics Strobe Cream, Drunk Elephant Bronzing Drops, and Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Liner, Danii showed her fans how they could look like their favorite influencer with these products. Evidently, it was the tutorial everyone was looking for.
But there's more to Alix Earle's appeal than just her playful and fun GRWM videos. With her blonde hair and pouty lips, there's something else that's attracting millions of people to her page. Alix Earle is a relatable queen who shares her real struggles with her followers!
Unlike other influencers who strive to give over the image of perfection, she presents an approachable persona, discussing issues such as anxiety, depression, and friendship. "Because she feels like your cool best friend, you feel like you know her, and that means you'll be loyal to her," explained user @samanthatannor.
Her Acne Journey
She's gone to great lengths to expose her genuine struggles with acne and her consequential experience on Accutane. Through weekly photos, she tracked the progress of her skin while on the medication. "Acne is normal, OK? So this is just a reminder that it's not the end of the world, and it's gonna be OK," she captioned the post.
"I thought that my life was over, and I thought it was never gonna get better," she told her followers about her acne struggle. "If I can post that online for millions of people to see, then you can leave your house, you can go to class, you can go to the grocery store, you're fine."
Behind Closed Doors
"The Instagram era of perfect, photoshopped lives, where everything you do is perfect and beautiful, is over," said creative TikTok strategist Keith Blackmer (@keith_toks; 30,000 followers) in a Dec. 2022 video. "If you want to be a viral account on TikTok, you've got to be imperfect, open, honest, authentic."
"She is both transparent and relatable while also having an aspirational lifestyle," he told Glossy. "It's being stunning and perfect but also having an incredibly messy room. She's able to be natural and authentic." When the influencer showcased her chaotic college apartment, fans were elated to see she was also a "messy girl."
Reflecting the success of Alix's first-ever video, the influencer has remained in college, despite all of her newfound fame. In fact, this choice to finish her higher education has become an essential part of her brand, where people love to hear about her relatable college antics alongside her roommates.
Earle will often feature her friends in the videos, talking about their wild senior year nights out at the University of Miami. She attracted many new followers to her page when she documented her struggle to write and submit a 25-page paper in time for her 22nd Birthday.
Trouble in Paradise
In addition to her relatable habits and issues, Alix significantly boosted her following when she revealed she had broken up with her professional baseball player boyfriend, Tyler Wade. After documenting their three-month relationship on her socials, fans seemed concerned when they noticed his sudden disappearance.
When her eagle-eyed followers noticed his absence in her 22nd birthday weekend footage, they speculated the relationship had ended, which Alix soon confirmed herself. In a video, she lip-synced to the sound, "Damn, y'all broke up? Nah, she broke, I'm up."
Spilling the Tea
Three days later, she appeared in a TikTok live, revealing that they had been "fighting for a bit" and she was "not happy" with how she was feeling. "He wouldn't post me," she explained. "We went to a wedding, and he was like, 'Oh, how many pictures should I post?' and I was thinking, 'Aw, he's going to post me.'"
"And he's like this selfie or this one? He wasn't into the whole social media thing for me," she clarified. Users praised the influencer for her transparency over the break-up, not trying to keep the details secret from her followers. After all, nothing bonds strangers like a good, old heartbreak.
A Family Gal
One glance at Alix's TikTok and Instagram pages, and one thing is abundantly clear - the influencer loves her family, and her fans adore her for it! As the oldest of five children, she takes her big sister role seriously, sharing the spotlight with them as much as she can.
Her sister, Ashtin Earle, has appeared in many of her videos, showing off their close sister bond. Her three other half-siblings, who are the children of her father and stepmother, Ashley Dupre, also frequently make their appearances in her GRWM videos.
Cracked the Code
TikToker Brianna "Chickenfry" LaPaglia, who boasts an impressive 1.1 million TikTok followers herself, believes she has cracked the code behind Alix's unprecedented rise to fame. As far as she is concerned, it's because Earle has changed the traditional relationship between the public and influencers.
"If you look at when Addison and Charli blew up, all of their fans were like fandoms of little kids," LaPaglia explained on her podcast PlanBriUncut. "They're just like, 'Oh, she's so pretty! Who is she dating?' But people are an army behind Alix Earle already. It's like they actually care about what she's saying."
Alix is connected with many of the biggest brands that recognize her influential power. In the fall of 2022, she was invited by Tarte to attend an influencer trip in Florida. Beauty icon Selena Gomez asked her to attend a RareBeauty event in New York, and she's secured major deals with Grubhub and White Fox Boutique.
Earle has quickly risen to success on the TikTok app, and it's no surprise that she has earned numerous opportunities along the way. Her popularity on social media has allowed her to attend red-carpet events and - talk about a dream come true - even meet several of her favorite celebs, including Hailey Bieber (above).
Talking to Glossy, influencer marketing manager Amanda (@letstalkpopculture) explained that "Engagement, follower count, and audience analytics all go into negotiating brand deals... I personally care the most about a talent's actual influence," she added.
"You can get a sense of this by how interactive they are with their audience, like how often they host lives and whether they respond to comments," Amanda continued. "Talent that does a great job at engaging with their audience have an incredible community that trusts them."
From Fan to Family
Closely and personally interacting with her fans is something Alix does better than anyone else. Not only does she frequently host lives and reply to fan comments, but she also opens up her inbox for those seeking advice. "My DMs are open if you're struggling and want to talk," she captioned a video about her acne journey.
After a fan named Diana Kirk made a video praising Alix and her influence, thanking her for "making me feel beautiful," she reposted it with an emotional response. "You guys have no idea how much you mean to me," she responded before telling Diana she would be gifting her a Dyson Airwrap.
Not one to put all her eggs in one basket, Earle is a multi-talented social media star with a variety of work to her credit. Not only has she gained popularity on TikTok, but she has also explored her creative side by taking on more mainstream roles. Her resume includes some modeling and acting gigs.
She has done photoshoots throughout the United States and has had plenty of opportunities to show off her expressive style on camera, working as both an extra and starring in some music videos. Whatever project Alix takes on, she always puts her imagination and bubbly personality into it, making it truly special.
It's clear that Earle understands the privilege of having so many people watching her platform and is using it to discuss topics that are often ignored due to a lack of knowledge or interest. Her ability to boldly speak up is admirable and inspiring.
Careful not to promote unhealthy and unrealistic beauty standards for the young, impressionable girls watching, Alix has always been transparent about the cosmetic procedures she has had done to look the way she does. That includes lip fillers and a breast augmentation "she had been interested in for years."
Not for Everyone
While many users are going crazy for the TikTok star, Alix's clips have also caused quite a stir in the online community. Millions of people from all over the world have viewed and commented on the videos, with some expressing admiration. But others have quite a contrary opinion.
This lack of consensus has resulted in heated debates across social media. Despite Alix's transparency, the influencer is still accused of promoting unrealistic beauty standards for her predominantly young audience. Regardless of how one feels about these videos, it's hard to deny their impact.
Sold Out - & Called Out
Recently, Earle caused a stir when on December 27, she posted her favorite Amazon beauty products of 2022. It was one item in particular that got people buzzing - a $10 Mielle Organics' Rosemary Mint Scalp and Hair Strengthening Oil intended for Black consumers with textured hair.
"I've only been using this for a little over a month, and I've already seen tremendous hair growth," Earle told her 3+ million followers about the product. As with most products she recommends, thousands flocked to her Amazon storefront to purchase the item, selling it out in minutes.
However, one group of her fans were not impressed by this recommendation, publicly calling Earle out for attracting so many people to the brand favored by Black women. Their concern was that this increased popularity would result in the Black-owned brand selling out in two ways.
Firstly, they feared that the product so valuable to the Black women community would be bought out, leaving limited supplies for those who really needed it. Secondly, they feared the company would expand greatly due to the increased sales and adapt its formula, market, and prices accordingly.
"DAMN, now Mielle is gonna be outta stock/expensive. Sisters we gotta start gatekeeping," one user complained. "Gotta start buying in bulk," another agreed. Critics complained that products such as these, which are aimed at Black people, are already difficult enough to find in stores.
"Black women have legitimate reasons to side-eye white folks' discovering' Mielle hair oil," another user insisted. "When brands BW single-handedly kept afloat start chasing white money, they raise prices, change formulas, and erase Black women from their image."
A Different Perspective
Despite the negative response taking over the narrative, not everyone seems to be as concerned. TikTok user and Black business owner Alyssa Wilson talked to Glossy about the scandal, offering a more positive viewpoint on the matter. "I personally took no offense to [Earle's] honest review," she said.
"I felt it was great for Mielle Organics to be recognized outside of its target demographic," she said. "I understand how difficult it is in business to have your product breakthrough into a new space. The majority are plant-based products that can be used on different textures," she noted.
Although she did not have an issue with the particular case of Earle and Mielle, Alyssa was sure to credit the general concerns of these Black consumers. "Has this happened before? Yes, with Carol's Daughter, Shea Moisture, and, most recently, Mane Choice," she reflected.
"My rebuttal to this is that Mielle has not implied that it is changing its products or target demographic," she concluded. The brand's founder Monique Rodriquez has publicly assured its clients that it has "no plans to change the formula for Rosemary Mint Oil or any of our products."
Amidst the ongoing discussion surrounding Earle's likely salary, TikTok influencer marketing manager Jessica Lilliann took to the app to share her insights on the matter. She revealed that Alix is rumored to charge between $40,000 and $70,000 per brand partnership, depending on the campaign's details.
According to this, Alix could post just 1 video monthly and earn $500,000 per year! Although Jessica believes the star is worth her price tags, these numbers had many furious. "I think it's kinda ridiculous she gets paid that much for one video when we as a society can't even properly pay our teachers, but that's just me," one user wrote.
With all this success, one can't help but speculate about what's next for the star. Will she follow in the footsteps of TikTok legends like Addison Rae and land herself a movie or record deal? Maybe a stint on Dancing With The Stars like Charlie D'Amelio? Her considerable influence suggests endless opportunities.
Earle has made no secret of her desire to secure an interview with the Call Her Daddy podcast. In response to a video by Amanda (@letstalkpopculture) which predicted this Alex-Alix collaboration, Earle promised to reveal all the details of her break-up if she lands a spot on the famous podcast.
Taking the Mic
TikTok users have been flocking to the site to put forward their theories of what the iconic influencer 'it' girl will do next. Amanda predicted that "Alix Earle will be everywhere next year, and if it's not Call Her Daddy, it's probably a reality TV show. The people want to know more!"
Amanda also believes Alix could start her own podcast sometime soon, just like fellow TikTok star Christina Najjar. Considering her followers already consider her their "hot best friend," they're sure to tune in. Whatever project she attempts next, something tells us she'll be sticking around for a while...