Alix Earle Unfiltered

The June 2024 SI Swimsuit cover model opens up on her motivations, strategies and passions.
Alix Earle
Alix Earle / Yu Tsai/Sports Illustrated

Alix Earle is a brand, but she’s also a regular girl from New Jersey who happens to have millions of TikTok followers. It’s a distinction Earle herself sometimes finds blurry. She’s constantly thinking about how to define and grow that brand, which is a testament to her recent marketing degree from the University of Miami, but, like everything Earle does, that process is thoughtful and self-aware without being overly calculated. It makes complete sense when she explains that the Alix Earle brand is about “being authentically yourself.”

“That’s what I try to preach and show,” says Earle, speaking over Zoom from her childhood bedroom while visiting her family. “I definitely think of it as a brand. But that’s also a weird dynamic because it’s also me as a person. It’s been weird to rationalize in my mind, but I think I’ve done a pretty good job at it.”

Earle acknowledges that it takes a real feat of inner strength to willingly share yourself with the world. It can be scary at times. She’s not immune to criticism or backlash or hateful comments, and she’s made a few missteps. But like anyone, she’s always learning. And the upside of being honest online is greater than any downside. “You feel like if something fails that you’re failing, because I am the brand,” she admits. “But there’s so much reward to it.”

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It’s hard to imagine someone who isn’t aware of Earle, an omnipresent content creator, social media personality and podcast host whose TikTok feed grew exponentially at the end of 2022 after she shared a vulnerable video about her acne. Before that it had been a slower burn, making the success appear to have happened overnight (it didn’t). Alix joined TikTok in 2019 during her freshman year at Miami and built up around 100,000 followers with her amiable, chatty clips. She started feeling guilty about posting things that were too “filtered and smoothed out,” but she was terrified that acknowledging a flaw online would cause followers to flee. 

“I thought no one was ever going to talk to me again,” Earle says. “It sounds stupid, but your skin can take such a mental toll on you and I had been at such a mentally low place. And for me to post that online was very, very scary. But immediately the response I was getting was girls saying Thank you for this or This is helping me so much or This is so nice to see real skin… That was really a catapult for me to realizing how important it is to share everything about you and not just only the good, highlighted, perfect parts.” 

In the months that followed, Earle captivated more and more people with her honest admissions and off-the-cuff storytelling, including in her popular “Get Ready With Me” series. After graduating in May of 2023, Alix partnered with Alexandra Cooper’s The Unwell Network to launch a podcast, Hot Mess with Alix Earle. As of this writing, she has 6.7 million TikTok followers and 3.6 million Instagram followers—something Earle doesn’t take for granted, even if it still sometimes feels surreal. 

“I definitely have a big understanding now of the platform that I have and the change that I can make with that,” she says. “That’s why I always tried to give back or promote small brands. I think that’s very important to uplift other people with my platform.”

She’s especially proud of creating the Alix Earle Scholarship, which is given to two juniors or seniors at the Miami Herbert Business School. The first two recipients, who Earle calls “the best, most inspiring students,” even appeared on Hot Mess

“That’s been a big pinch me moment of my career to be able to graduate as well as having a scholarship at the school,” she says. “A lot of people wondered why I wasn’t dropping out my senior year if I had a set plan. Getting my degree was always very important to me. The school was very motivating and pushed me to be my best self. So I’ve wanted to turn around that support and support other students following their dreams and doing the impossible.”

These days Earle is offered an enormous amount of opportunities. Some, like this SI Swimsuit shoot, come as a surprise, while others are part of what she calls her “five-year plan.” And whatever she’s doing, she’s involved. She sets up and records her own podcast, taking the gear on the road with her, and she shoots and edits every video that appears on her social media pages. She has numerous Zoom meetings every day. Does she sleep? Not really, but she’s young and she has the energy, so to her it makes sense to go in full force.  

“Doing it yourself you get something different out of it and appreciate the work that goes into it,” she says. “I could work—and I do work—24/7 on all that I’m doing because I’m passionate about it.” Alix Earle After-Party Gallery. More Alix Earle. Alix Earle: Model Page. Alix Earle Miami Swim Gallery

Watching her TikTok feed or listening to Hot Mess, it seems like there’s not much we don’t know about Earle. She’s been open about her breast augmentation and in a podcast episode last fall she described her struggles with disordered eating, recounting what she called a “a toxic cycle” of binging and purging. The hour-long podcast felt like the right place to reveal it because it allowed Earle to really elaborate, something she did through tears. 

“Social media sometimes is harsh with the comments and things can get taken a certain way, and I really wanted to be able to tell my full story, which took 30 minutes to tell,” she recalls. “I just wouldn’t have been able to get that same story out or those same emotions out through a short clip. I’m able to share a lot online, but I think there are those moments where dealing with a bigger story like that you need to give all the context.”

It was an emotional experience, but one that exemplifies why Earle continues to open herself up online. “As scared as I was to share that, I have girls come up to me and they’re also in tears telling me how much that has changed something for them or motivated them or helped one of their friends,” she says. “And I think that’s what makes it all worth it.”

Over the past year, as her following has accelerated, Earle has taken a slightly more cautious approach to that sharing. Her family, friends and boyfriend, Miami Dolphins player Braxton Berrios, don’t seem to mind being the supporting cast in her online cinematic universe. But there are some memories she’s realized she should keep for herself.  

“Especially with my relationship, I have learned that keeping some of the intimate moments between us and certain date nights and certain special things between us is nice,” Earle says. “At first I was sharing a lot of that online and then I just realized that I want those moments to be between us and I think that helps keep the spark alive. I don’t think everything in a relationship needs to be shared online.”

Although her camera is always rolling, Earle has recently taught herself to “dial that back in certain moments.” “I still do want to live and be present in the moment,” she says. “I’ve really learned how to balance that. When I am capturing a moment that I still want to be present in, I have figured out a way where I can take the clips of the moment or get it done, but then the rest of the night my phone is off and I’m present in the moment and present with the people that I’m around.”

Social media is, after all, a highlights reel, not The Truman Show. Earle generally feels that her audience knows her and she always strives to be as genuine as possible in every video and podcast episode. But a TikTok clip can’t capture everything. “People assume they’re seeing everything just from a little video,” she says. “[But] there’s so much more to a person or to a story than a one-minute video you’re seeing online.”

Being online famous comes with a lot of perks, like trips to Coachella and deals with makeup brands, but the internet is also filled with hate. Earle deals with that inevitability by tuning it out as much as possible and by staying focused on what matters: her audience. After all, it’s easy to form an opinion or make a snap judgment about someone this successful. 

“I definitely think people have misconceptions about me,” says Earle. “There’s millions of people online who get it wrong all the time. And I think my audience has a good understanding of who I am and why I post what I post. People who have a misunderstanding about me don’t really engage in all of my content and see everything that I do. It’s easy to say that I’m too crazy or I’m going out too much or whatever it is. But I’m young and I’m having fun, and I also work very hard. The people who actually follow me know that and understand that. The people who get that wrong are outside not actually paying attention to everything I do in depth.”

If it sounds like Earle is busy, she is. She’s rarely home in Miami and she rarely does anything that’s not work-related. Although her videos appear effortless, the amount of work and complexity involved is almost shocking. But Earle is nothing but enthusiastic and joyful about her chosen career, which is perhaps why the line between person and brand is so hazy. 

“I love what I do so much,” she says. “That’s why I stress about being able to make the most out of it that I can and sustain this because I am having so much fun in creating content. But I always say if all of this were to go away tomorrow, I would still be making videos and posts because I just have fun doing it. Of course it’s amazing that I have such a massive audience watching. But, at the same time, I would continue to do that without that audience.”

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Emily Zemler


Emily Zemler is a freelance writer based in London. She regularly contributes to Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, Conde Nast Traveler, and Observer, and is the author of five books. Follow her on Twitter @emilyzemler.