The Atlantic

How Parents of Child Influencers Package Their Kids’ Lives for Instagram

The platform’s youngest stars owe their fame to their parents’ intense work behind the scenes.
Source: Courtesy of Mia Foos

Something peculiar happened when Ryker Wixom Googled his name recently. Instead of finding unrelated links and the Facebook accounts of people with similar names, the 8-year-old was greeted with photos of himself as a toddler atop the first page of results. A little farther down was an entry for him on a website called FamousBirthdays.com. A little more scrolling revealed a Daily Mail video of a 4-year-old Ryker attempting a magic trick.

Ryker’s classmate, who also participated in the online self-sleuthing, did not have such a digital trail. “I liked it because we just typed in Ryker, and a bunch of pictures of me came up,” Ryker said. (His mom asked him my questions and sent me a voice recording of his answers.) “When we typed in [my friend’s] name, there was only an old president’s picture. He was like, ‘What the heck?’ We both laughed really hard.”

“He came home and asked me if he’s famous,” said Ryker’s mom, Collette Wixom. Her reply: “‘You’re not famous, but people know who you are.’ And his friend thought it was the coolest thing ever.”

Ryker always knew that his mom liked taking pictures of him, but he was never explicitly aware that people actually them, Collette explained. However, these photos have led to a small amount of fame for Ryker and his little brothers, 6-year-old Grey and 2-year-old Wyatt: an audience on Instagram. As , Collette Wixom amassed more than 300,000 followers by posting photos of her sons of men’s-wear (what she calls a “mini style hack”). When she started the account in 2014, it only featured photos of Ryker, her oldest. Now the @ministylehacker feed is full of pictures of all three of her sons ; ; .

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