The Sunday Read: ‘The Beauty of 78.5 Million Followers’

How social media stars like Addison Rae gave the cosmetics industry a makeover.,

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The Sunday Read: ‘The Beauty of 78.5 Million Followers’

How social media stars like Addison Rae gave the cosmetics industry a makeover.

Produced by Anna Martin and Marion Lozano; music by Marion Lozano; edited by John Woo; written and introduced by Vanessa Grigoriadis; and narrated by Julia Whelan.

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April 4, 2021, 9:00 a.m. ET


During the pandemic, cheerleader-ish girls performing slithery hip-hop dances to rap music on TikTok has been the height of entertainment — enjoyed both genuinely and for laughs.

Addison Rae, one such TikToker, is the second-most-popular human being on the platform, having amassed a following larger than the population of the United Kingdom.

In seeking to monetize this popularity, she has followed a path forged by many social media stars and A-list celebrities like Rihanna and Kylie Jenner: She has started her own beauty brand.

On today’s Sunday Read, a look at how beauty has entered a phase of total pop-culture domination and how influencers are changing the way the sell works by mining the intimate relationships they have with their fans.

This story was written by Vanessa Grigoriadis and recorded by Audm. To hear more audio stories from publishers like The New York Times, download Audm for iPhone or Android.


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Additional production for The Sunday Read was contributed by Emma Kehlbeck, Parin Behrooz, Carson Leigh Brown, Anna Diamond, Elena Hecht, Desiree Ibekwe, Tanya Perez, Margaret Willison and Kate Winslett. Special thanks to Mike Benoist, Sam Dolnick, Laura Kim, Julia Simon, Lisa Tobin, Blake Wilson and Ryan Wegner.

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