Austin says she and the other influencers were invited to Portland for an influencer trip with a clothing boutique, Goodnight Macaroon. About two days later, the photo started appearing on meme accounts like @thefatjewish and @heyladiesbook, while notable Twitter accounts tweeted out the photo. The accounts made fun of the 10 women for being "basic," meaning they like things other women like — fall, coffee, big sweaters and knee-high boots.
Austin says the photo was meant as an advertisement for the clothing boutique, but as soon as the women shot the photo, they had a feeling it would be turned into a meme.
"I know that from the outside looking in it all can appear pretty ridiculous," Austin says. "It's also really easy to craft a narrative that we all just showed up and 'accidentally' dressed alike because we are 'basic.' The reality is that the brand wanted us in their clothing and boots and pushed for the picture. The best part of the story is that when we saw the picture so many of us said, 'We are going to be a meme tomorrow.' I think that the internet is a pretty hateful place these days, but this all seemed like good fun (minus some comments)."
Stephanie McNeal, BuzzFeed's deputy breaking news director and author of the BuzzFeed's influencer newsletter, Please Like Me, wrote in the newsletter that it's unfair to make fun of Austin for liking fall and over-the-knee boots.
"This reeks of misogyny," McNeal writes. "Men can be literally the most basic dressers of all time (see @MidTownUniform for evidence) and get a fraction of the hate. Some women like dressing cute, putting on a hat and boots, and going to the pumpkin patch. Decorating your home for the holidays can spark joy. There is so much crap in the world — do you really need to spend your energy hating this?"
Austin hadn't seen what McNeal wrote about her until we showed her, but she says it's nice to have support.
"I think it's rare to see people stick up for influencers these days," Austin says. "It's easier to join the bandwagon of snark and condescension for an industry very few understand the complexities of. Any time that a journalist can reveal just a little bit more of the work ethic that is required for this industry then I'm in support. I think we all unanimously thought this meme stream was just really hilarious though."