At just 17 years old, Charli D’Amelio is well on her way to taking over the world — and our hearts while she’s at it. Nicknamed “TikTok’s Sweetheart,” the professional dancer has 118.1 million followers on the app, making her the most followed account on TikTok in the world. And once you get to know her, it’s not hard to see why.
Having risen to fame for her adorable dancing videos — many of which include her sister and parents — D’Amelio has since transformed her genuine online presence into a majorly lucrative brand. In the mere two years since initially posting content on TikTok, D’Amelio has landed a Hulu reality show starring her and her family plus a plethora of impressive professional partnerships, from a Dunkin’ drink and matching merch to a Hollister clothing collection to these limited edition Invisalign cases, everything D’Amelio touches turns to gold — or, at least, goes viral.
SheKnows caught up with the TikTok tycoon to discuss her accelerated ascent to fame, the D’Amelio family dynamic, how she handles cyber-bullying and the demand to seem “perfect” online at all times, and more. Read on for what the TikTok star had to say.
SheKnows: We’re such big fans of how close the D’Amelio family is. It’s so refreshing to see, especially on TikTok, which is primarily a very young platform. Do you think that your familial bond has helped you in finding a healthy balance in terms of setting boundaries online while rising to fame?
Charli D’Amelio: Being online with my family is the one thing that’s kept me sane throughout all of this. I honestly don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have my family here supporting me. Even if it’s just a little bit of support here and there, or being there when I’m really down. We’re obviously all learning this at the same time, so we’re going through it together, but it’s very helpful to have people that loved you without any followers really be there for you and give you the unconditional love that my family gives me.
SK: What’s it like rising to fame at the same time as your sister? Is it nice kind of having this built-in support system who gets it or can it actually be hard juggling it at the same time?
CD: It’s super awesome to be able to get to do this with my sister. She’s obviously my best friend, so it makes it very easy for me to be able to talk things through with her. The one thing about our relationship that I think makes this so much easier is that we don’t compete. We’re not those people. We don’t do that. That’s not our relationship. We never have. Not only are we happy for each other’s successes, but even when doing the same things, we both thrive in different ways because we are such different people. I feel like that’s so important. A lot of people try to make this world a competition. I think that’s why it’s so awesome to have someone that I never have to worry about that with.
SK: You’re obviously active online, which provides an amazing opportunity to interact with your fans, but also comes with the downside of occasional cyberbullying or hateful comments. How do you deal with people who might say mean things to do online and does your family help you find ways to remember that’s not even real life?
CD: It took a very long time for me to really understand how to deal with this. I think I’m still learning…every day is a different day. I could hear the same thing at two different times of the day and feel two different ways. I think it’s really important that I know that my feelings are not only valid, but it’s okay and it’s also normal to be upset. That’s something that I talk about a lot because I feel like we’re thrown into this perceived notion that everyone online is just so happy and so perfect all the time, and their lives are picture perfect 24/7, and that’s not reality for anyone.
No matter how many times people call me a cry baby, or call me whatever they want for showing my real emotions, at the end of the day, it’s real. And that’s not going to change with any amount of followers that anyone has. That’s just not reality. That’s not anything that anyone could ever become accustomed to 24/7. I’m going to continue to be the same person that I am, and hopefully people will be able to understand that we’re all just trying to do this together. I mean, this is my life. I put a lot of my life out there and no one’s life is 100% awesome 24/7.
[What] I think makes this so much easier is that [my sister and I] don’t compete. We’re not those people. We don’t do that.
SK: I’m so glad that you addressed how people tend to share perfect versions of their lives online, whether that’s just choosing exactly what to share or by using filters or editing their photos. Research actually shows that this idealized imagery can be really hard on teens’ confidence in particular. How do you personally avoid comparing yourself to others and/or remind yourself that the photos you’re seeing on social media don’t necessarily reflect reality?
CD: I think the most important thing for young people of this generation to know is that social media is a highlight reel of everyone’s life. Even I sometimes wonder, because I see it the same way everyone else does. It’s difficult to see all of these people having the time of their life 24/7 and never seeming to have an off day. And as difficult as it is to watch, it’s even more difficult to live up to that perceived notion 24/7. I feel like that’s why I’ve made it a point to let everyone know like, “it’s not real life.”
I mean, I posted myself with my face swollen like a balloon and bruised because so many people get their wisdom teeth out. Almost everyone gets their wisdom teeth out! That’s a normal thing. But a lot of people would shy away from that, and I feel like it’s better to be honest. I’d rather be too honest and then, maybe one day look back and be like, “that’s a horrible picture of me,” or, “that might’ve been too much information.” But it might’ve also helped some people.
no more wisdom!
SK: I love how honest and open you were about getting your nose surgery. Is that same idea the reason why you opened up to your fans?
CD: I think that it’s very, very important for — anyone, really — who sees someone look different one day, and [feels] like, “Well, they grew up and looked like that, and I grew up, and I look this way. Why didn’t that happen to me?” Now, [by being honest], people will be like, “No, that’s not 100% normal.” People don’t necessarily have to be honest about it, but it makes me feel more comfortable [to] put a lot of stuff out there, and just let everyone know what you see is what you get. There’s no hiding behind the scenes.
It’s definitely difficult, because it’s obviously up to whoever’s body it is, but I think it’s also really cool to let people know everything. I go back and forth with it, because I understand why some people might want to not talk about it, but for me, I just feel more comfortable sharing.
SK: So you’ve partnered with Invisalign, a brand that prides itself on helping people overcome insecurities by elevating their smile. What led you to seek out Invisalign treatment?
CD: Honestly, just the fact that I was unhappy with my smile. I wanted to feel more confident and I wanted my teeth to be the way that I wanted them, and they weren’t like that. I was very upset because I had gone through plenty of times of going and getting my teeth fixed: I had braces twice before I tried Invisalign, and I still wasn’t happy. That’s super upsetting.
Seeing the way my Invisalign treatment has worked out so far, and seeing how much more confident I’ve become just since starting, is something that I’m very excited about. That’s why I talk about Invisalign so openly. It’s truly made me so much more confident, and it’s so easy, especially with what I do. I obviously have a very hectic schedule, so I feel it’s very important that I not only get to help myself, but do it in the best way for me.
Social media is a highlight reel of everyone’s life. Even I sometimes wonder, because I see it the same way everyone else does.
SK: Speaking of boosting confidence, more and more teens and 20-somethings have become interested in injectables and things like Botox and filler, and research shows it’s because they actually want to look like what they see on social media. How do you feel about that? Do you think you would ever try injectables, and how do you think what you see on social media influences what you want to do with your appearance — if it all?
CD: I think it’s a wonderful thing that you’re able to make yourself more confident in any way that you please. As of right now, I don’t have any plans for that in the future, but who knows? At the end of the day, if I can be happy with myself or make myself more confident, I think that’s an awesome thing to do. But I am still 17, and I would have to get the okay from my parents. I would want to make sure that I truly want it before I were to ever try anything so that’s not on my radar right now. But who knows for the future?
SK: Is there anything else that you want to tell your fans to keep an eye out for in the next year?
CD: I think I’m most excited for my Invisalign aligner case coming out. I cannot wait for other people to be able to get that. It will be available on Amazon, and it embodies me to a tee. I think that that’s super, super awesome and I’m super excited for people to see it.
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