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Does your kid's grandmother take
selfies at frat parties? Does she have more than 1 million followers on
Instagram? Did she recently walk the red carpet at the MTV Music Awards? Of
course not. Because your kid's grandma isn't Baddie Winkle.
Baddie is, as People Magazine put
it, "the most bad-ass 87-year-old" around. Born Helen Van Winkle, Baddie has
taken the world by storm as of late, showing up everywhere from the "Orange Is the New Black" premiere to
magazine ads as the new
face of DimePiece clothing.
She didn't always rock beanies and bathing
suits baring racy slogans, though. It wasn't until a year and a half ago that
her great-granddaughter, Kennedy, 19, came home to find her great-grandma
wearing her (Kennedy's) tie-dyed Grateful Dead tee and jean shorts, snapped a
pic of her and posted it to Instagram,
along with the caption, "Peace and Love."
Pandemonium ensued, and
the octogenarian now has a celebrity following, along with her own Twitter
account (@BaddieWinkle, tagline: "87 and killing it.")
I've been trying to score an
interview with Baddie since September 7. Twenty-four emails later, she was able
to squeeze me in, just before she jetted off to Atlanta for a music video shoot
with Vice Magazine. Considering
September is home to National Grandparents Day, I wanted to ask the Knoxville,
Tennessee grandmother of five and great-grandmother of three about her hottest
tips for being a kickass grandparent. Here's
what she had to say.
1. Always be available.
"Have fun with your grandkids. I helped raise my grandchildren. When my grandkids
were younger, we played I Spy. We watched TV—they loved "The Price is Right." I attended every event of theirs. That sends a
message of unconditional love."
2. It's OK if you
argue, so long as you make up.
"I live with Kennedy and my granddaughter, Dawn.
Most of the time we get along, sometimes we fight, but we get over it—we're
friends within half an hour. Most of the time we forgive and forget. Sometimes Dawn
and I will take a walk. You have to be
very tolerant for their ups and downs and be there for them at all times."
3. Don't be afraid to be
"In April 2014, Kennedy was in school, I was laying out in the sun and
had put on a pair of her cut-off shorts and tee shirt. I like to get my suntan
early, before it gets too hot. Kennedy came home and said, 'Oh, Granny, you
look so cute.' We took a picture, put it on Twitter. It went wild."
They judge me, but some of them aren't very good judges. A lot of people think I'm crazy, but that's their opinion.
Do you think technology
can bring the generations together?
"Absolutely. Especially people my age and a lot younger—50 and up. They don't know anything about social media. Some
of them do have Facebook, which is good, but there's so much to learn. I just
got a Facebook page and I'm learning how to [use it]. I've learned how to take
a selfie—Kennedy taught me how to do that. At that time [of my first photo], I didn't
know much about Twitter at all, but I'm learning more everyday. Get on Facebook
with [your grandkids], get on the phone."
out with Miley Cyrus—she's even called you her role model. But Miley
catches a lot of flack for her antics. What do you think?
"I went to the MTV
Awards with Miley—she's a great kid, by the way. She does wild things, but
that's the trend. She's down to earth. That's Miley. She reinvented herself. And I reinvented myself. We have
lots of things in common. She's from Tennessee; I live in Tennessee. I lived in
Kentucky for 50 years and her entire family is from Kentucky."
Maybe one of your
tips for grandparents, then, is "Don't judge a book by its cover"?
"Yes, I don't think you should judge. I know people do. They
judge me, but some of them aren't very good judges. A lot of people think I'm
crazy, but that's their opinion. I just kind of blow it off. You have one
judge, and that's God. I think he approves of what I do; I think he gets a big
kick out of me."