explainer

Who is Caroline Calloway? What you need to know about the infamous influencer.

Caroline Calloway has been exposed as a complete scam. And she’s embracing it.

Last week, New York Magazine’s The Cut published an explosive essay by Caroline’s former best friend, Natalie Beach. The article details their destructive friendship and Caroline’s problematic method of achieving success in the influencer world.

But as the story spiralled into a series of subsequent subplots, it became a confusing one to catch up with.

So here, we explain the whole damn thing. Strap in.

Who is Caroline Calloway?

Caroline Calloway is a 27-year-old Instagram influencer with about 800,000 followers.

Her real name isn’t Caroline Calloway; It’s Caroline Gotschall. She changed it at age 17, because Calloway, her middle name, “will look better on book covers someday.”

She studied at the University of Cambridge where she catalogued her days in lengthy, intricate captions on Instagram.

“I always knew I wanted to be a writer,” Calloway told Man Repeller last year. “I’ve always been convinced that I have stories to tell and that I would be successful at telling them.”

Her aim was to land a book deal, which she achieved in 2016 with Flatiron Publishing. The book was a memoir titled, “And We Were Like”.

But in 2017, she withdrew the deal, because she felt she had sold a facade to the publisher that didn’t depict her authentic self. However, Calloway had already spent her book advance money when she pulled the plug, which she is reportedly still paying back.

who is caroline calloway
Caroline Calloway became famous on Instagram when she studied at the University of Cambridge. Image: Instagram.
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Her name next piqued public interest earlier this year.

She offered her fans a "Creativity Workshop" tour, charging US$165 a ticket for the four hour seminar.

Journalist Kayleigh Donaldson exposed the tour as a "Fyre Fest in the waiting" and Calloway's name quickly became synonymous with the word "scam".

The first two seminars went ahead, with attendees reporting their disappointment at the lack of organisation. Calloway cancelled the remaining workshops and the "scam" went viral.

"I think that criticism is really valid and I apologise to anyone who felt cheated by the price point of $165," she wrote on her Instagram Stories at the time.

"I take full responsibility for letting my total inexperience with event planning and GREED create a situation where the details of the tour were ever-changing, preparation was inadequate, and the event did not match the description by the time it went on."

Then in July, eight weeks ago, she announced she would conduct another seminar, this time called "The Scam".

"I am hosting my first event since I went viral," she told her Instagram followers. "It is...............The exact same fucking event as before, but with a different name."

"Come make friends. Hang out with me. Work on your art. Laugh about art. Eat salad on the floor. Drink oat milk. Take photos with flowers in our hair. Consider pain. Discuss self-love. Be scammed."

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Saturday, August 3rd near the West Village I am hosting my first event since I went viral. It is...............The exact same fucking event as before, but with a different name. The main thing that’s different is that this time I want you to bring a piece of writing to workshop and possibly share with the group. Oh, and I’ll be a better teacher because the lessons I’ve learned this spring have been INTENSE and my summer self is EN FUEGO. Come make friends. Hang out with me. Work on your art. Laugh about art. Eat salad on the floor. Drink oat milk. Take photos with flowers in our hair. Consider pain. Discuss self-love. Be scammed. Limited spots available. Link in bio. Beautiful floral art by @philjohnperry Beautiful photographic art by @shotbygobes Shoot location @shortstories OF COURSE????

A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on

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So... Why is everyone talking about Caroline Calloway now?

Earlier this month, Calloway revealed her former best-friend, Natalie Beach, was writing an essay about their friendship for The Cut.

Once again embracing her infamy, Calloway uploaded a plethora of posts about the essay in anticipation for its publication.

"Everything in Natalie’s article will be brilliant and beautifully expressed and true. I know this not because I have read her essay but because Natalie is the best writer I know," she said in an Instagram post earlier this month.

"You should read Natalie’s article when it comes out," she told her fans. "I’ll post a link when it does. Go leave a comment on nymag.com even if it’s insulting me. Every digital impression will be another reason for The Cut to hire Natalie again and to pay her even more next time."

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Do you guys have any friendships that have ended that still bring you pain? This afternoon I found out that one of the two people I have hurt the most in this world will be publishing an essay about our friendship for The Cut. I don’t know when this essay will go live. But it will be different than the articles that called me a scammer for clickbait. Everything in Natalie’s article will be brilliant and beautifully expressed and true. I know this not because I have read her essay but because Natalie is the best writer I know. I still love her. Our friendship ended 2 years ago, but I still walk around New York sometimes, listening to music, running errands, thinking about her. Amsterdam. I’ll let her tell you about that trip because it put her in danger—not me—so maybe it is hers to tell. Maybe she has custody of that story. Sometimes I all but gag with guilt. Sometimes I write emails to her in my head. Sometimes I imagine a future where we’re friends again! Natalie suffered all the consequences of being loved by an addict and none of the benefits of being loved by the woman that recovery made me into. In early August Natalie liked one of my Instagram photos by accident. I knew it was by accident because I know Natalie. But still! I thought: Maybe she is checking in on me because she still wants to be friends! Maybe she still loves me, too. I realize now that she must have been working on the article about us that will be published soon by New York Magazine. My team asked two things of me: To ignore this essay in my posts so I don’t drive traffic to it and to give them Natalie’s email so they could reach out. This is the first time I’ve disobeyed them. You should read Natalie’s article when it comes out. I’ll post a link when it does. Go leave a comment on nymag.com even if it’s insulting me. Every digital impression will be another reason for The Cut to hire Natalie again and to pay her even more next time. And The Cut doesn’t have access to the audience most interested in hating and loving Caroline Calloway. I do. So start anticipating this article. Get excited. Read it. I hope I can support Natalie now in ways I never did during my addiction.

A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on

Five days later the essay, "I Was Caroline Calloway", was uploaded.

Beach reflects on her experience as Calloway's unknown paid ghostwriter, revealing she was the voice behind many of her famous captions. She later would also work with Calloway on her aforementioned book proposal.

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"My involvement was uncredited, as the entire selling point of Caroline was that she was an ingénue," Beach wrote.

She also claimed that Calloway in fact bought followers early on, therefore undermining the entire 'authentic' brand she had supposedly built organically.

Their friendship ultimately fell apart, alongside the demise of the book deal.

"Caroline was caught between who she was and who she believed herself to be, which in the end may have been the most relatable thing about her," Beach said.

Caroline Calloway bizarrely encourages her followers to read the essay, with the link to the article in her Instagram bio.

What has happened since?

 

View this post on Instagram

 

My um... My Dad just died. Today. I got the call an hour ago. The cause of death is unknown. I’m worried that by even telling this I will cheapen the truth. That I will make this moment into another “notorious misfortune” of mine as the New York Times called them. But I believe deeply in the power of art and social media and being yourself. For many years (2013-2018) I tried to BE my online persona. I tried to make myself seem happier, prettier, more interesting on the internet and then I tried to be that girl in real life. In 2019 I have tried to bring my online persona up to speed with who I really am, flawed, ever-changing, full of goodness, one day at a time. If this media shitstorm WASN’T blowing up right now, I would use my grief to make things that mean things to people. You can call what I’m doing performance art, but it is only a performance when I fail to express honestly what I am feeling. And what I’m feeling right now is shock. I have an interview with NBC News in twenty minutes and I don’t know what to say. I guess I’ll just tell the truth. I don’t know. I can’t think straight. Text someone that you love them today. I didn’t know this would be the last time I ever texted my Dad.

A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on


Two days after the expose, Caroline Calloway's father passed away.

"My um... My Dad just died," she shared on Instagram. "Today. I got the call an hour ago. The cause of death is unknown."

"I’m worried that by even telling this I will cheapen the truth. That I will make this moment into another 'notorious misfortune' of mine as the New York Times called them.

"For many years (2013-2018) I tried to BE my online persona. I tried to make myself seem happier, prettier, more interesting on the internet and then I tried to be that girl in real life."

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