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Meet the Prom Queen of Instagram

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By the standards of real celebrity, Hymowitz’s following isn’t especially impressive, but for an anonymous teenager lacking famous parents or, by her own admission, a particular skill — “I can’t, like, sing” — she is unusually popular online: not quite Instagram famous, but known well beyond the walls of any one school or the connections of any particular circle of real-life friends. For the aspirational caste that makes up much of the city’s teenage (and adult) population, Hymowitz represents, as one of them put it, an “Insta-ideal.”


Insta-ideal is a great word. 

It isn’t possible, objectively speaking, to declare one person the most popular teenager in New York City, but if you were making a list, there would be worse places to start than with Lilli Hymowitz. She is 16, the third of three sisters, and the owner of 7,989 followers on Instagram (at press time), where she presents her life as a perpetual party, much of which takes place by a pool. I first heard about her from a friend’s 15-year-old brother, who had been in the same room as Hymowitz before but was confident she had no idea who he was. This was a great disappointment to him. “Everyone wants to know about her,” he said. “She’s like a celebrity.” He knew whom she was dating, where her five tattoos were located, and when she had patched things up with her best friend after nine months of not speaking. He said that “Lilli’s Dark Circus,” her 16th-birthday party at Le Bain, had been the “party of the year.” Jason Derulo performed, and Hymowitz wore a low-cut black dress that made room for a necklace in the shape of red lips smoking a cigarette. “She’s rich and she’s pretty and she does whatever she wants,” he explained, before adding that her notoriety was of a particularly modern variety. “I guess you could say I know a lot about her from Instagram. I don’t really know her.”

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