With the growing popularity of being ‘internet famous’, social media has experienced a tidal wave of young, smart individuals looking to get their names out there and the get the recognition accorded to celebrities in the more mainstream media. The more business-savvy trendsetters have turned ‘likes’ into loot by being paid to promote products for companies on their social media pages. Among these internet celebrities are BET’s The Westbrooks. This is a family of five girls, their brother and parents as they navigate the life of social media socialites. The girls, whose names are (in order from youngest to oldest) India, Crystal, Bree, Morgan and Brooke have a combined Instagram following of two million and have made the most of this support by earning through marketing products to their followers and getting their own reality show.
Brooke, the oldest of the Westbrooks, is a mother of three and has a business of selling waist-trainers; a garment that can be described as a modern-day corset used for creating the illusion of a smaller waist and can help shred a few inches around the stomach. Morgan is a music promoter for her own sound as well as other musicians. She’s also a motorcycle enthusiast and perhaps the most ‘gangster’ of her family with both her arms fully tattooed and her signature thug-meets-biker-meets-girly-girl sense of style. Bree is a plus-size model who aspires to give the industry a voice. The industry for plus-size modelling is small and the opportunities are few so she makes her own as she works at creating chances for others like herself. Crystal is a self-proclaimed hippie with her signature curly golden mane which she insists that no-one touches and keeps it natural. She’s an aspiring actress and model. India, the youngest and most famous of the sisters, with an Instagram following of a million, is a model and promotes a countless number of products ranging from hair to skin care. It is rumored that these girls cash thousands of dollars on a weekly basis and as their following grows, it seems the only way is up for these ladies.
In addition to their careers, their personal lives are quite interesting. From India’s self-absorbed and stuck-up persona, Brooke and Bree’s tumultuous relationships with their boyfriends, to the girls firing their manager who also happened to be their uncle and father’s best friend, this show practically sells itself. And as if that was not enough, the family is categorized as African-American, with their father being black. This appeals to a dynamic different than that usually catered for in Hollywood.
The reason I refer to them as ‘the commoner’s Kardashians’ is that their lives are more similar to our own and yet they have a lifestyle that can be easily compared to that of the Kardashian clan. Both families have reality shows and their fair share of haters as well as fans. Their lives are centered on being famous and both families have the feuds that only families in the limelight could have. However, the Westbrook’s are more relatable; although they may earn more than the average Joe, their lives are still realistic. India, Crystal and Bree still live with their parents, and true to a strict upbringing the ladies do not talk back or disrespect their parents, unlike the Kardashians, with the exception of India’s eye-rolling.
They do not splurge on fancy cars or pricey real estate and do not vacation in exclusive villas every time they need a break. They are, in several ways, a regular family. In show business, there’s no certainty when it comes to the durability of a concept’s popularity, but it is, without a doubt a fact that The Westbrooks will be here for a while.